The word should is such a small seemingly innocent little word but it packs a lot of punch. This is the dictionary definition of it: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.
It brings with it a boat load of guilt and unrealistic expectations. Have a think about the last time you used the word ‘should’ I bet you say it more often that you realise.
When you hear yourself say ‘I should have tried harder to breast feed’ or even ‘I shouldn’t have shouted at my toddler’ how does that make you feel when you say those words? I am going to guess its not a great feeling. As soon as we say I should have, or I should not have it immediately implies we have done something wrong which then leads to a feeling of guilt.
When we use the word Should it has the opposite effect. Imagine saying to yourself ‘I should do the washing’ how does that make you feel? Does it make you feel more like doing it or less like it?
The same goes for the words ‘have to’ they also carry a load of unrealistic expectation.
So, let’s try a little experiment. Let us try changing a few words and see if that changes how we feel.
Let us change should for could.
So ‘I should be making home made food for my children all the time’ becomes ‘I could be making homemade food every day for my children, but I accept that’s not always going to be possible’. Does that feel different?
I could be making home made food for my children every night, but I am choosing to spend my time doing other things.
This takes back your power. Your choice. It eliminates the feelings of guilt and the weight of expectation.
Think of this scenario. You are feeling resentful because you don’t feel as though your partner is helping you out enough at home or with your children. Have a think of the way the conversation would go if you started with ‘You SHOULD be helping me more’. What do you think their reply will be?
Now imagine saying ‘I would love it if you COULD help me more around the house or with the children’. Do you think that would go any better?
Give it a go and let me know if you see a difference in how you feel but just changing one tiny word.