Stop Shoulding On Yourself!

Written by Darren Kanthal

May 4, 2021

How often do you say I should or shouldn’t do this, that or the other? Have you heard the saying I should-ed or I’m should-ing all over myself? The first time I heard that I laughed. I was the king of shoulding all over myself. These days, as I coach my clients, I find “should” to be a dangerous word. Instead of saying “should,” I coach my clients to accept what they are willing or unwilling to do and empower that decision. Now, why would acceptance be so important in the face of should’ing ourselves?

Should adds burden.

If you do or don’t do what you should, what’s wrong with you? “Should” often leads to the adverse action of what you want to get. You’re now spending time bashing yourself for what you think you “should” have done, rather than focus on what you can or want to do.

Webster’s dictionary interpretation of “should” sums it up quite well: “used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.”

Should, therefore, is the literal depiction of a duty or obligation and typically used to criticize. Who wants or needs that??

If you SHOULD find a new job, but don’t – what is wrong with you?!?! Why aren’t you finding the new job???

If you SHOULD stop eating that last half-gallon of ice cream or start a workout routine to reach your goal weight, but don’t – what’s wrong with you?!?!? Why aren’t you taking the necessary steps to achieve your goals???

On the flip side, check out Webster’s dictionary’s interpretation of willing: “ready, eager, or prepared to do something.” Doesn’t this immediately elicit a more positive connection?!

Willing! It’s empowering! It elicits control over your decisions and actions. You have overarching ownership of what you do or don’t do. If you’re unwilling to take the steps to find a new job or to lose the weight, that’s on you. No pointing fingers at anything other than your willingness, or lack thereof, to take action.

Do or do not, there is no should!

As the burden of “should” is removed, and we’re still unwilling to take action, there is typically a deeper meaning. Think of the ‘peeling the onion back’ analogy. If we’re willing to accept the status quo – in other words “I’m prepared and ready NOT to make change” – there’s often more under the surface. It could be self-judgment, fear of being judged by others, uneasiness about failing (by the way, all FAIL really means is First Attempt In Learning), allowing our survival brain to keep us ‘safe’, or any other reasons we make true in our minds.

What is your willingness or unwillingness holding you back from? What if you had the courage, stepped into your brave, wise, Sage self, and addressed challenges head-on? Think of all the positive change you’d create for yourself, while never once shoulding on yourself.

Just one small change.

Our brains struggle when we see the totality of everything that needs to get done, like thinking that Rome was built in a day, or spending all your time thinking about all the work it’ll take to find that next job, or all the changes you’ll need to make to lose the weight. The impact of all those to-do’s and pressure is colossal and when we only look at that laundry list, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and “should” on ourselves as we wallow in not knowing where to start.

You’re in luck! It doesn’t need to be that hard, and you don’t need to go at it alone. All you need to do is start – right now! – with just one step. Just one! It doesn’t matter how big or small it is – all it takes is one simple change. That change is up to you. Stop shoulding on yourself. It takes courage to be the person you always knew you could be. Be willing to start today with just one small change. Give us a call at The Kanthal Group and we’ll get you walking towards your goal.



Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.

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