If you ever want to give yourself a real challenge, try taking a commonly used word out of your vocabulary. Go ahead try it. I suggest you target “should.”
I’ve been trying and it is rocking my world. At first glance, should seems innocent enough. It’s used to give advice to ourselves and others. A common staple of our inner and outer dialogue. But when you really look at it, should has a dark side. A very dark side.
Just think of your most recent should statement you made to yourself or another person. What is the feeling behind it? Is it a good feeling? To me, should is kind of threatening. For me, should usually comes up in the context of fear or failure (or fear of failure). And yet, it invites failure because it’s not very motivating. Saying “I should go for a run/clean the house/stop eating that/go to bed,” doesn’t really move me to do anything other than feel badly for not doing what I thought to do. Should highlights my failures to myself, my friends, my family, and my co-workers. Should doesn’t care what I already have done or what else is going on. Should just reminds me of what I didn’t do and implies that others are better than me. Should shames me.
Now consider how those feelings soften and change when I change “should” to “could.” Just typing it lifts a weight off me. “I could go for a run/clean the house/stop eating that/go to bed.” Could invites me to consider everything I could do in a given moment and to make the best choice for that time. It’s less about duty and more about balance. It’s kinder. It reminds me that I am strong and that I cram a heck of a lot of things into any given day. I choose could because I deserve better than what happens when I should myself. Even though it means I’ll be saying “ssshhhoo---could” for a while.
I got this idea from a wonderful St. Louis parent educator named Suzanne Tucker. I met her just days before having my baby and have continued to go back to her for guidance on how to show love to myself, my family, and everyone I encounter. I have taken her infant massage class, her Positive Parenting tots to teens class, and her power struggles workshop. They have all been great. Thanks to the tools she has shared with me, I’m developing a confidence in myself that I didn't even realize I lacked.
How about you? What seemingly small change has made a big impact on your life?