No Shoulds

Or, why ‘should’ is possibly the worst word in the English language.

Wait, really? Worst word? What about hate or intolerance, certainly those words are worse than should.

Hate? I know we’re taught to love everyone, blah blah blah. Personally, I hate child molesters. Is anyone going to argue with me that that is wrong? Or an inappropriate use of the word? I bet there are things you hate that are perfectly valid. Hate is useful, it tells us what is absolutely intolerable.

Speaking of intolerance. I am intolerant of willful ignorance. Again, are you going to honestly argue that intolerance doesn’t have it’s better uses? Are there better words that could be used in it’s stead? Sure. But intolerance, when correctly applied, is a useful tool.

Just like we need the negative to highlight the positive, words like hate show us the truth behind love.

So, why is should so evil?

I wasn’t really sure, at first. I’d been reading some new-to-me blogs recently and noticing the bad press that the seemingly harmless word was getting. Something like ‘no shoulds’ would be stated outright or I’d hear the idea expressed that if it’s something you feel like you should be doing, it’s exactly what you shouldn’t. The negative connotation was strong but I didn’t really get why. I use should all of the time, what’s wrong with that?

Finally, the third place I encountered it, the Manifesto (pdf) over at Freak Revolution, came with an explanation:

Doing something because you “should” is you bowing to someone else’s control.

In a world of “shoulds”, we do things not because we want to but because we’re obligated to, because we have no choice in the matter. In a world without “should”, we may do the very same things but we do them more mindfully, aware of what our own personal goal is and how those actions or inactions affect what we want out of life.

I love the example they use (because I can totally relate):

“I want to sleep in, but I should get up because I have to go to work today.”

That sneaky “should” is actually robbing you of your personal power! How would it feel if instead you said this:

“I want to sleep in, but I also want to keep my job, so I’ll choose to go to work today because I want that more than I want to sleep in.”

And I love to sleep in. But I also have so much I want to do that sleeping in, while enjoyable, isn’t the best way to accomplish it.

(Though if you find someone willing to pay people to sleep for them, I’m totally your girl!)

“Stinkin’ thinkin'” is what comes to mind when words like “should” or “can’t” are presented in this light. Are they still valid parts of the English language? Yes. But they don’t have to be part of MY dictionary. This is something I will be working on, eliminating the concept of should from my life and rewiring my brain, as it were, to be more take-charge, more positive and more (to use a buzzword) proactive and powerful.

Join me, if you want. But not because I think you should.

6 thoughts on “No Shoulds

  1. I love this post. I am emailing it to all my friends. Yup. Thank you so much for the bit on hate. And the wilful ignorance part too.

    Exceptionally well put.

    I’ll be back for more!

    Have a great weekend. But only if you want to : )


  2. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop shouldding all over the place! This post was a great reminder too.

    1. I’m glad I was able to shed some light on the matter–I had those same ‘what’s wrong with should’ thoughts, too 🙂

  3. I got curious on ‘no should’ and when I read the entry I have to agree… kept on nodding here… whoa, if you could only see me.

    Thanks for the post. It surely is a reminder on how to properly use our free will.

    1. Glad you found it useful. Our words, our thoughts, have more power than we give them credit for. Being mindful of it all is so important.

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