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Stop Shoulding on Yourself

When you can't think straight, "should" is a good word to eliminate from your vocabulary. It resonates with judgment and guilt, and is often followed by a knee-jerk reaction rather than a deliberate decision. First, post this reminder on your telephone or daily calendar: "There are no shoulds." Then try this quick-lift.

  • Check your to-do list for any "shoulds." If you find any, ask a few questions: Am I doing this to avoid conflict? To look good? Out of guilt? Because I want to?
  • If you answer, "Because I want to," why are you perceiving it as a "should"? Reframe how you think about it, making it a choice. "I want to" energizes; "I have to" depletes.
  • If you can't say, "Because I want to," don't do it! Risk displeasing someone, ignore your ego, or find another way to deal with any guilt.
"Shoulding" indicates you have surrendered your power of choice and are following someone else's rules. The next time you find yourself thinking, "I should," ask yourself, "Who says?" The answer may surprise you.
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A series of "quick-lifts" excerpted from Recharge in Minutes, ©2003, by Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.

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