I hear three little words containing just 13 letters of the alphabet that come from almost every woman I work with. These 3 little words hold thousands and maybe even millions of women prisoners in their own lives. They have us do things we don’t really want to. They prevent us from doing the things we really yearn to. They steal our dreams
and our life energy. They keep us small and add significantly to our already stressful lives. These three powerful words are ‘should’ and ‘ought to’.
How frequently do the words ‘should’ and ‘ought to’ come up during the course of your day? Have they shown up at important times in your life? As in, I really should exercise today, I really should take this job, I really should go to this networking event tonight, or thisÃ¢Â?Â¦.although I’d really like to ________, I really ought to _________. You fill in the blanks.
Beyond energy and dream stealing, doing things from the motivation of should or ‘ought to’ is often joyless and can lead to feelings of resentment and guilt. What’s next – an entire chorus of inner critics eager to hold you small.
So why do we ‘should’ ourselves? We’re all conditioned by our upbringing, culture, friends, society and more. We often feel the world around us ‘should’ us to fill up our lives with activities out of obligation rather than joy.
These words are powerful motivators that push us into taking action, or not. When we give in to our shoulds, we may be giving up on what’s really important to ourselves and that starts an entirely different conversation with ourselves. “If only I _______, I could have __________.”
Do you want to break free from the habit of ‘shoulding’ yourself? Follow these few simple steps. The steps are simple. Doing them can be the hard work. If you’ve been doing this for years, you may be on automatic pilot. So have patience with yourself and with others too.
Step 1. Notice – Pay attention to when you ‘should’ yourself (Notice – does not mean criticize or beat yourself up about it. Just notice.)
Step 2. Pause to interrupt the habit of reacting to your should
Step 3. Choose a new reply or a new course of action
Step 4. Celebrate the energy reversal or freedom that comes from doing what’s right for you
Here’s an example to get you started Ã¢Â?Â¦Ã¢Â?Â¦
FROMÃ¢Â?Â¦.. I really should go for a run because I’m supposed to, it’s run day.
Yuk! Feels like drudgery, might push you forward but it’s with a big effort. Likely takes longer to get out there and run.
TO………. It’s run day. I’m excited to go for my run today as it gives me more energy to help me create a great day.
Do you feel the positive energy? It’s that shift in energy that pulls us forward and saves more energy for the run.
Now it’s your turn. Take a moment to practice to find an example from your own life?
Examining your ‘shoulds’ is more than saying no, although that can be a strategy to get you started. Awareness of your conditioning, your values, what’s important to you and more, combined with the willingness to make changes can put you on the path of a more inspired life. On that path you get to do more of what you’re meant to and others get to see more of your individual greatness.