From time-to-time those two little words – “I should” – enter our life without us even realizing that they’ve stolen our authenticity and individuality.
It is because everything that follows “should” is (usually) a projection from others – societal norms, family beliefs, friends’ expectations, etc. Rarely does a “should” represent our real needs, personal truths or motivations. And yet we so easily accept them because we want to belong, be loved and feel validated.
We believe that “shoulds” push us forward, make us better, help us to succeed and achieve. “I should act stronger;” “I should lose some weight;” “I should work harder;” or “I should be more positive.” But because “should” originate outside of us, they only create resistance and leave us feeling drained.
Actually, “shoulds” are one of our greatest sources of unhappiness. The more actions or thoughts that originate from “should”, the more we push ourselves away from who we truly are. In other words, “shoulds” are a false confirmation of self, which makes them an amazing container of self-hate. When we create a “should” we dismiss our true selves and needs, and place a greater respect on others’. It’s like saying: Who I am and what I need is not good enough; and instead saying: I need to be, feel, think or act like someone else. What’s worse, when we use “should,” we assess ourselves based on a set of standards that are subjective, false and ever-changing (e.g., fashion, beauty, body image).
One of the first, easy steps to diminish “shoulds” is to replace this word with something more empowering. For example, instead of saying “I should”, “I must” or “I have to”, try “I go to…” or “I choose to…” Feel the difference in energy these new words introduce (“I should go to gym now” versus “I choose to go to gym now”). They shift you from a state of victimhood to one of liberation, and increase your awareness that every single decision you make is your choice.
If you compromise who you are and strive to be someone who you aren’t, you will never truly express yourself authentically. You were created with your unique set of skills, abilities, and gifts, and only these can lead you to success.
So, who do you choose to be – someone who “shoulds” or someone who allows and accepts your true needs?