Well-Being//

Why the Word ‘Should’ is So Dangerous

The six-letter word can wield an enormous amount of power—if we let it.


Imagine there was a word, an image, an object or a person that just sucked the power and life right out of you. You’d stay away I hope! What if I told you there is and that it’s so subtle you’re likely not even aware? We give away our power to the word “should”.

I talk a lot about power. It’s worth noting that I’m always referring to authentic power, that is, connecting with our truest, most authentic self and standing in that truth. External power, or the type of power that is exerted over another is antiquated and obsolete. Much of the world just doesn’t know it yet. 😉

I also like to speak about mind and body. Our minds are beautiful, amazing things that can think and rationalize and logically examine a situation from all angles. They are so powerful, they can often see multiple sides to the same issue and therefore “confuse” us with contradictory thought processes. Our body, on the other hand, connects to that deeper wisdom, our gut feelings, and knows what’s right for us, even though what’s “right” may be different for each person.

Back to that dreadful word, ”should”. Let’s take a look at how this plays out in our lives. I should go to this function (though I’d rather spend the night with my family). I should return this phone call (though I don’t wish to talk to him). I should volunteer for this project or it won’t get done (though I have no interest). I should spend time with this person (though it drains me) because I don’t want her to feel bad. I should apply for a promotion (though I don’t want it). I should pick up extra hours at work (though I need more time for myself). I should stay quiet to avoid conflict (though I’m feeling angry or hurt). I should help my friend move (though I really need a day off).

In each case the “should” is generated by the mind in its rational wisdom. The underlying feelings are held by the body. How often do we ignore or completely dismiss them and do what we “should”? Each time we do that, we tell our Self that we’re not important (or at least not as important as the thing we “should” do). Each time we disconnect a little more from our authentic Self. We give away our authentic power.

People mistakenly think that choosing your Self is being selfish. I disagree. I believe that connecting to Self and then consciously choosing your feelings or actions brings your truest, most connected Self into connection with others and is the biggest gift we have to give. It’s like the oxygen mask on the airplane speech. Put yours on first so you can better help others. Acknowledge your own wants, needs, and desires hidden behind each “should”. Better yet, see the “should” as a red flag that you’re abandoning yourself and look deeper. You’re worth it.

Originally published at medium.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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