Are you a numbers or words person? Maybe you’re both.
I’m a words girl. I love language and I’m fascinated by the power of seemingly small and innocent words.
One of the words I wish we could all be more aware of is good-old ‘Should’.
You see, ‘Should’ and it’s companions ‘Have to, must, ought, need to’ are words I hear women using all the time.
And not in a helpful way.
Just listen to these statements I’ve heard in the past two weeks:
I should exercise in the mornings
I need to be more organized
I have to learn to be more patient
I’ve got to be a more effective leader
I should be better at this
I have to relax more
Now let me be clear. I’m all for high expectations, self improvement and self awareness. But for those of us with high expectations of ourselves, who tend to perfectionism and are our own worst critics. We could do with being a little less harsh on ourselves and a little more encouraging and kind.
Should is a small word with a powerful subtext.
- When you say ‘I should… ‘or ‘ I have to…’ or ‘I need to…’, What you are actually saying is ‘I am not good enough as I am’.
- When you say ‘I should… ‘or ‘ I have to…’ or ‘I need to…’, you are focused on the negative. You are focused on what you are not doing.
- When you say ‘I should… ‘or ‘ I have to…’ or ‘I need to…’, you are adding another thing to your already overwhelming to-do list.
So what can you do?
- Self awareness is key. Become aware of your ‘Shoulds’. Simply make a mental note each time you hear yourself use it.
- Swap the shoulds for more helpful, encouraging, motivating language. For example:
Instead of I should exercise in the mornings try I feel/think/operate better all day when I get up and move early in the day
Instead of I need to be more organized try It’s important to me to have structure and organization in my life so that things flow well.
Instead of I have to learn to be more patient try I value patience and want to be known as a patient person.
Instead of I should be better at this try I’m learning to … or I’m getting better every day at…
So I encourage you to give it a go. Listen to your language. Notice how you speak to yourself and play around with swapping out some of the ‘I’m not enough’ statements into something more motivating.