≡ Menu

Are you plagued by the shoulds?


Should you or must you?

Hmmm…..doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it?  In fact, you could compare a case of the shoulds to an unpleasant event that happens during flu season, but we won’t go there, will we?  : ) 

I don’t know about you but when I was a child (a long time ago, but I digress), it was very common for my parents to tell me “Sherie, you should clean up your room, now”….”Sherie, you should dress like this”….”Sherie, you need to get straight A’s, anything less is unacceptable” (that was my grandmother who said that, actually).  As I got older, there were other people who told me what I should do.  The church I belonged to said that “All young women should be married by the age of 19”.  I heard  “you should stay home” and “ you should work”…..man, was that confusing or what??  We’ve all been there in one way or another, haven’t we?

I find myself saying that to my own children and have to catch myself in time to stop it before it runs out of my mouth, unbidden.  What’s wrong with saying to your child or yourself that “you should  ____ (fill in the blank here)"? 

I’ll tell you.  In NLP, it is referred to as a modal operator of necessity. Let me explain in somewhat simpler terms. It’s a statement that is being placed on you by someone else that has implicit in its' meaning that it is necessary and there is NO CHOICE.  YOU SHOULD.

Think about it.  Do you feel good about yourself when you say “I SHOULD do the laundry today” ?  Let the words sink in and get in touch with how you feel when you think or say that.  It is not very empowering and for a lot of people, it comes with accompanying bad feelings.  Personally, it makes me shudder.

Get out a pen and paper and make a list of the “shoulds” that you tell yourself on a daily basis.  Go ahead, I’ll wait here………..done?  Great! There might have been another word that snuck in there….MUST….it’s another sneaky one. Now, ask yourself, how does telling myself this inspire me, motivate me to be a better person, empower me in my relationships?  I am interested in that……my clients find that hitting themselves over the head with a hammer (or the words “should” or “must”) is an ineffective way to get what you need done, done.

The next time you hear that little voice in the back of your head saying, for example:

  • I should be at home full time
  • I should work outside of the home
  • I must clean the house thoroughly everyday
  • I must keep the dishes done
  • I should wait until tomorrow


Ask yourself this question right after…..”According to whom?”…..you might be surprised at the answer  you get.

Does this mean that you are given a free pass to leaving the dishes undone, the family unfed, and not filling any of the responsibilities that you have on a daily basis?  Definitely not!  It just means that you understand that you have a choice, it always was your choice, and you  just didn’t know.

It is the change of one word in the sentence and it is a powerful one.  See the difference?  Say these sentences out loud and you will notice that it feels very, very different, in a good way.

  • I choose to be at home full time
  • I choose to work outside of the home
  • It is my choice to clean the house
  • I want to keep the dishes done
  • I can wait until tomorrow

You will find that it is easier to get the things done that you want to get done in a faster, simpler way, if you monitor your self talk and see it as choices instead of should or must.

If this has struck a chord with you, let me know…..here in the comments below or feel free to be in touch on facebook!  I look forward to seeing you over there!

P.S.  There is no gender bias implied here!  The “shoulds” and “musts” have been  applied  to both men and women!!  :  )

Remember, the relationship you have with you is important and knowing yourself is easier than you think!


The following two tabs change content below.


I am a Relationship Coach who helps others create happy, healthy, loving relationships…including the relationship they have with themselves…by breaking through those blocks and barriers to success. I use various techniques gathered through training as a Master Practitioner of NLP, timeline, hypnosis and common sense gathered through life experience.

Comments on this entry are closed.