I have a particular issue with the words should and must. They seem quite innocent and inoffensive but they can put huge limits on our choices in life and they are also straight from the mouth of our inner critic.
If we have too many shoulds in our lives then it usually means we are following a set of rules and expectations that may not match our values and personality. We have fallen into the “should and must” trap.
These rules come from messages we picked up as children from parents, school, friends and society. We then reinforce them over the years to become beliefs that we accept as adults. Could it be time to challenge those beliefs?
To understand how rules and beliefs were affecting my life I chose to count for a week the number of times I used these two words, either in speaking or thinking. I can honestly say I was shocked at the result. I had thought it was a habit I’d broken but obviously not!
My inner critic had a wonderful time telling me “I should be working when I was out with the kids” or “I should be spending time with the kids when I was with clients”, I can’t win. Other favourites were “I should be having a night off wine” and “I must eat at the table and have good conversation with my husband tonight” and these were just the ones in my head.
If you have a tendency to use the words should and must I suggest you try my experiment and see how often you use them, what sort of rules you are putting on yourself and ask where do those rules come from?
Then try replacing should or must with could, which is a much softer word and your less likely to beat yourself up about it.