Should I Say Should?

Should I Say Should?

Self-actualisation is the process where humans find out what life they really want to live, and then make the choices necessary to live that life. Evolving their thoughts, feelings and behaviours to fulfil their desires and potential.

The good news is that the software needed to do this is preprogramed in to us at birth. The bad news is that for a lot of people, the process at play operates in the subconscious layer of the mind. This means we will feel the effect of the process but will not necessarily be able to tap in to the cause.

The simplest way to describe this is that we all build up a definition of what the perfect human looks like in our minds – this is part of what is programmed in to us as kids.

To help us achieve self-actualisation, our minds then compare our recent history of thoughts, feelings and actions to that definition, and where there is a difference, we start to tell ourselves what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

I will explore this subject in much greater detail when we delve in to the creating congruence tool as part of the introspection tool kit; but for now, lets have a look at “shoulding” in a bit more detail.

Could there be another way?…

What Should I Say Instead of Should?

We say should to ourselves. We say should to other people. Shoulding the shit out of the world around us, completely oblivious to the choice that we are making.

Let me put it this way: What could I say instead of should?

Does that sound a bit easier on the ear?

Should is like a slap; could is like a caress. Should is a directive with a consequence for noncompliance (often more shoulding and mental anguish); could is an offering of choice with no emotional baggage attached, just responsibility.

A simple change in your choice of language can make a significant difference to your overall sense of wellbeing. When I say language, this applies to both your internal and external dialogue; that means the words that come out of your mouth and the words that you use when you think.

Your Choice

It all stats with how we phrase things when we think. Let me give you an example: you see your trusty but tired looking old car parked on the drive and your foreman pipes up; “you should have a nicer car than that.”

Now, you could choose to take those words at face value and repeat in your mind: “yes I should have a nicer car than that”. You have just tipped the boulder over the edge of this hill and so will unfold a tirade of logic, excuses, and reasons for why you don’t have a nicer car. As you run through this dialogue in your mind, you will have a feeling of unease and a self-defensive tone.

Alternatively, you could choose to take control of the dialogue and respond with: “yes I could have a nicer car than that”.

The word could in this context flips the whole sentiment behind the sentence in to one of acceptance, optimism and possibility. “I could if I wanted to”, “I could at some point in the future”.

Should places an emphasis on what is not.

Could implies acceptance of what is and the acknowledgement of the other possible choices.

Challenging the use of the word should is just as much a choice about your outlook on life, as it is a choice about learning to manage your self-limiting behaviours and though patterns.

Inner Change

The process is pretty simple, condition yourself through perseverance to pretty much remove the world should from your vocabulary. Reclassify it as an offensive swear word so that it feels like there is an alarm going off when you hear it.

Try where possible, to choose not to say should either to yourself or to other people. If you do use it in your internal dialogue, hit the pause button and replay the same sentence but with your new chosen wording.

If your foreman starts piping up and shoulding you, hit the pause button and repeat what was said in your mind but using your new chosen wording. Your foreman will learn over time this is how you want to be spoken to.

NOTE: The foreman is part of our ego. You could think of it as the voice of the egoic part of our mind. Our ego is where we store the definition of the perfect human and the neurological centre where we do all of the comparing. It is in essence the source of our inner shoulding. The ego is something we will explore in much greater detail in future posts as part of the introspection toolkit.

Outer Change

Dealing with “shoulding” from other people is a little more complex, purely because of the range of different permutations such as the situational context and the type of relationship you have with that person.

Here are some general rules you could choose to apply:

  • Correct the person by restating what they have said using your updated wording – This allows you to acknowledge what has been said and also represents an opportunity to spread the message of replacing should with could. It is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the person.
  • Restate what the person has said in your internal dialogue using your new wording – This will maintain your internal integrity and allow you to take some value from what the person has said without risking potential conflict and awkward conversation.
  • Completely ignore and disregard what the person has said – In one ear and other the other.
  • Accept what the person is saying and get on with it! – Not all shoulding is bad! Think about examples like you should execute your work to the required standard or, you should use heat protecting gloves when getting hot food out of the oven.

The choice you make is up to you, and it will have different implications in different situations. You won’t get it right all of the time, and other times, you will simply forget the choice is even available.

Choosing the right vocabulary is a skill. The more you do it, the better you will get at it, and the easier it will be. Eventually, it will not even feel like a choice, you will just do it.

You could give it a go today if you wanted!

Enjoy, for now.

Previous Post – Choosing to Establish Equilibrium

All Posts