You ‘SHOULD’ DO THIS
Have you ever been told you should do something? Maybe you were the one telling yourself that you should.
You should get a real job.
You should put on the washing as soon as you wake up.
You should go to your cousin’s wedding on the other side of the country.
Shoulds are the best friend of people-pleasing and if I had my way the word should, would be removed from the dictionary.
MY SHOULD STORY
I haven’t always been so anti-should. In fact, back in the day, the word ‘should’ defined my life. I was a perpetual people pleaser. I always did what I was told and followed what was expected of me. I went from being a curious, confident child with dreams of seeing my name in lights to a quiet, shy, little girl, always sweet but never herself. I was obedient and I followed the rules of doing what I should because I thought it would make me fit in and feel more accepted. I wanted to be liked, but the problem was I lost myself in the process. I lived by other people’s expectations of what I should be doing. I borrowed other people’s values and standards because I couldn’t identify my own, they were lost in the wash. Even in my late 20’s, I was a sad, little girl, a shell of the dreamer of my childhood days. That visionary no longer existed, and ‘should’ was to blame.
Things finally changed when I turned 30. I went through a breakup and had a massive epiphany. I realised I didn’t have my own life, everything I was doing, everyone I was being, was for everyone except myself. I was on the people-pleasing ‘should’ train and it wasn’t pretty.
So I slowly started setting boundaries and getting really clear on my boundaries, and it was through this process that I discovered my true identity and my soul. I let go of the ‘shoulds’ and I started living for me.
You can do the same. You don’t have to wait 30 years either. Start living for you today.
WHERE IS THE WORD ‘SHOULD’ RUNNING YOUR LIFE?
I invite you to take an inventory of your life. Where are you letting the word ‘should’ run your life?
Spend at least a week doing this. Pay attention to every interaction you have with other people, take note of when people tell you what you ‘should’ be doing. Write it down.
Pay attention to when you agree to other people’s requests (or demands) even when it doesn’t feel aligned for you, write these down too.
Finally, you get to focus on yourself, listen to your self-talk and monitor your actions closely. What are you doing because you think you ‘should’ do it? Is there anything you are berating yourself for not doing?
Write this all down, what do you notice? Are there any patterns? Any areas of your life that are dominated by more ‘shoulds’? What is the reasoning behind this?
Let me be clear, I am not asking you to skirt responsibility, sometimes there are things we just have to do. This exercise is about getting really clear about how you are people-pleasing and where the word ‘should’ is showing up in your life.
WHAT IF YOU COULD?
Now I invite you to play. Go through your inventory and reframe every ‘should’ with ‘could’, how does that feel?
From here, spend at least a day consciously reframing your language. Anytime you use the word ‘should’ replace it with ‘could’. How does that feel? What comes up for you?
Define your core values, get it down to 10, and then highlight your top 5 values. Are you living in alignment with these? What could you do to bring them more into the forefront of your life?
Our language is a predisposition for action. What you speak, you create, it becomes your reality. ‘Should’ may not seem like the most dangerous word, but take my story onboard. My reality was created from it, I don’t want you to experience that too.
One of the great ‘shoulds’ of our society is that we should have a house, a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, you know the drill. I lived this from my early 20’s, I had a stable job, a mortgage, a few years later I had the partner, and marriage was on the horizon. I was living the dream, well, society’s dream. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate for growing your wealth, owning a home, meeting your soulmate all those things when they are on your terms. The entire time I had this dream life I wanted to travel, I wanted to quit my job and pursue entrepreneurship but I didn’t because I felt trapped by other people’s expectations and I let their ‘shoulds’ stop me from chasing my dreams. In fact, it was only after I met my current partner that everything changed. We’d both been homeowners from a young age, and yearned to travel, and so when we got together we started slowly testing the waters of living life from our personal values. We started trusting our intuition and listening to our soul’s calling. It led us from WA to QLD to NSW and eventually we sold the dream home and pursued our own dreams of travelling the world. We spent 4 wonderful months overseas with our son and created new careers for ourselves. This was the best decision I ever made and it only happened because I let go of people-pleasing. If we had listened to what other people told us we should do, my partner would still be working 12 hour days as a tradie, destroying his mental health (and mine). Instead, we both are pursuing our dreams and live with more joy than ever before.
I want you to have it all, take an inventory of your life, and remove the word should from your language. Start getting curious about what you really want, get really clear on your values and lean into them so you can embrace all the dreams you may have shelved. You don’t have to sell your house and travel the world, but maybe, just maybe you can take that art class you’ve been daydreaming about. Let go of what you should be doing, even for an hour a week, and go do something fulfilling for your soul.