Well, it has finally happened.

My creative well has run dry.

I’ve got writer’s block.

Yep… I’ve been sitting here for about 6 hours, twirling my hair and trying to squeeze out an entertaining blog post for you. But nothin’s happenin’.

This is not the norm. Usually, I bounce out of bed at 6am, do some yoga, and by the time I’ve slurped the last slurp of a delicious green smoothie, I’ve already written a masterpiece in my head.

But not today. Know why?

Because I’m “should-ing” myself.

Lucky for me, I’m not the only one that “shoulds”. I’d even make a sweet bet that you’re should-ing all over yourself without even knowing it. But before you make a break for your stain remover, let me explain exactly what “should-ing” is.

Should-ing is the practice of telling yourself what you SHOULD do. It’s the little voice in your head says:

“I should be less judgmental.”

“I should go to the gym.”

“I should be nice to my weirdo boss.”

“I should eat healthier food.”

“I should write a blog post today.”

Sound familiar??? Thought so. We all have this little should-ster on our shoulder.

The problem with the word “should” is that it implies that you are wrong. Positive results are impossible because you’re doomed right off the bat. How can you possibly expect to create something awesome if you think there’s something wrong with you???

When you tell yourself you “should”, it’s also likely that you’re trying to fit in to someone else’s standards. And we all know that when you don’t stay true to YOU, the best you can hope for is mediocrity.

The solution is to replace the word “should” with “could”. “Could” gives you a choice. “Could” liberates you from being wrong.

Notice the difference:

“I could be less judgmental.”

“I could  go to the gym.”

“I could be nice to my weirdo boss.”

“I could eat healthier food.”

“I could write a blog post today.”

See??? Complete freedom.

What’s on your “should list”? ☺

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9 thoughts on “Stop “Should-ing” Yourself

  1. dionne

    Oh boy, i totally relate! Except i find the last few weeks this dialogue is constantly nagging in my head and suddenly the day has passed, we are onto the next with an extended “to do” list! I really like the technique you use to turn it around though, feels MUCH better when i look at it like that! thanks!


  2. Lindsay

    I do the same thing with “shouldn’t” – “I shouldn’t have that cookie” turns into “I could have that cookie”. Then I can decide if I truly want it or not.


  3. leslie

    Why is “should ing” such an easy bad habit to fall into? I know to use “could”, but yet time and time again I fall into the “shoulds”.


  4. Kaleena

    I should write 1000 words a day.
    I should be further along in my career.
    I should be like Person X.
    I should have accomplished more today.

    Bah. None of those thoughts are ever particularly helpful, but damned if I can’t stop shoving them down my throat like a box of cookies*. It is incredibly self defeating. I’ve been giving this a bit of thought these last few days, but then I read something like this:

    “The problem with the word “should” is that it implies that you are wrong.”

    And a little light bulb goes off. For every “should” that comes around, the higher self kicks in and says, “You’re fine, love. You’re fine.”

    *Unlike self-defeating thoughts, cookies are wonderful and in reasonable doses, can be downright uplifting.


  5. Brad

    Coincidence? Ha! I think not. I woke up this morning with this vague anxiety and realized that it was because I thought that I SHOULD be doing something or that things SHOULD be “better” (isn’t everything in our world already perfect as it is?). The next moment I found your post on Facebook about this article. And “should” has so far been the theme for my whole day.

    Who decides for us what should or shouldn’t be? Guy Finley (http://www.guyfinley.org/) calls it the “Committee”. It’s that group of voices in our head that is constantly scrutinizing and criticizing everything we do and think. I *could* listen to the Committee, but today I choose not to.

    Thank you KB. You always inspire me. :)


  6. Carly

    So funny, just yesterday I was thinking the same thing to myself, “you are shoulding all over yourself!!”

    I have been shoulding over my documentary proposal but I think that’s a slightly different case. Over the past few weeks I fell into a massive black hole of procrastonation and the shoulds were so blocked up I was creatively constapated!!!

    Good luck with your inspiration! Sounds like in this case the lack of inspiration turned into the inspiration!


  7. Bianca

    Oh KB, thank you so much for this post, i’ve found myself doing too much “should-ings” these days and I was really feeling the side-effects of it, it really felt exactly how you discribed it “doomed right off the bat”, like a bucket of cold water ruining my day haha

    thanks KB, I’ll certainly be practicing your teaching.

    =) peace!


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