There are many words in the dictionary that I adore. Words that fill me with a sense of hope and excitement. Equally there are words that infuriate me. Right at the top of that list is ‘should’. It’s a dangerous word. In my opinion, one of the most dangerous words for women. I genuinely believe we need to stop with the should. 

Conventional wisdom seems to dictate that we, as women, are our own worst enemies and despite the cliché, at times the idea rings true. As I turned 29 last week, I cannot tell you the number of people who brought up my impending 30th and all the things I ‘should’ do before I get there, I should have a big party, I should make sure I have a big celebration, never mind what I want to do. People enjoy sharing all the shoulds. 

stop with the should

‘Shoulds’ in the media

There are even lists informing women what they should stop doing. I am a big fan of The Huffington Post and it’s vibrant leader Arianna Huffington. However I was saddened to see that they have a whole article entitled “23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing”. Although the tone of the article is aimed at inspiring women to break free from stereotypes and limitations it is in fact simply another layer of pressure for women. 

Various other articles I’ve found on websites edited for and by strong, independent women include;

  • 50 Mistakes Every Woman Should Make
  • Why Should You Always Date 3 Guys At Once
  • 83 Things Every Woman Should Know How To Do

The more I looked into this the more I found I wasn’t alone. In fact I uncovered numerous articles, both editorial and educational, stressing the dangers of the impact ‘should’ has on individuals. Tiny Buddha provided an article that really rang true with me, especially this section;

“The truth is, we will continue to occasionally make regretful decisions, lash out when we feel emotion, remain stagnant in unfavourable environments for fear of change, send one too many text messages to unresponsive people, or even lie to remove ourselves from uncomfortable situations. All things we’re programmed to know we shouldn’t do.”

stop with the should 2

I will not ‘should’

In a world where the pressures laid on the shoulders of women seem to be ever-increasing, I’m trying my absolute best to remove the should from my life. That’s not to say that I won’t spend time considering the best ways in which to do things, or feeling concern if things don’t work out how I want, but what I will no longer be doing is should-ing myself into feelings of guilt and disappointment.

My concern is that we are ‘should-ing’ ourselves to distraction, all day, every day, telling ourselves and others what we/they ‘should’ do. It makes me wonder if we have all forgotten what we want out of life.  Maybe by silencing the shoulds we will start to hear the wants again. 

Three little tips to help

1. Ask yourself throughout the day “Am I doing this because I want to or because I should?” If the answer is “should,” then “Why do I believe I should?” “What will happen if I don’t do it?” 

2. Create a little time each day that is “should-free” where you simply deal with your “wants”. Anything “should” related can be dealt with later.

3. Stop ‘should-ing” others. If you want to help yourself focus less on the shoulds, it makes sense to start with others. Take pause if you find yourself doing it. Think about what you really mean and re-ask the question. 

Are you a ‘should-er’? Do you feel as though it takes over a little? Do you feel you’ve lost your wants? I would love to know…

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