Making this one shift we’re talking about here can literally improve your quality of life. No joke.
How many times have you told yourself, I should have done this earlier. Or, I should have done what Mom wanted me to do. Or, I should have kept my mouth shut. Or, I should have asked for a raise. Or, I should not have binged all day on Netflix.
You know what I’m talking about.
These thoughts create rigid rules about how you should be doing something. It also affects your thoughts about other people – how they ought to be or do things.
Now there are times when reflecting about how your approach to a situation or project or problem is healthy. There is wisdom to be gained in learning from your experience.
‘Shoulds’ are full of shame and regret. Who wants to live their life that way? Not me, and if I was a betting gal, I’d bet not you either.
When I first learned about ‘should’ statements as a cognitive distortion, I was confused. We do have obligations and there are things we should be doing to accomplish a specific goal. But… we can get into trouble when our “should” thoughts lead us to feel guilty and discouraged.
‘Shoulds’ have dangerous consequences and overall have a negative impact on our quality of life.
Sounds too dramatic?
Read on because here are 10 dangers (there are more) of living with a ‘should’ mindset:
- Unrealistic expectations: When you’re all about those ‘shoulds,’ you set crazy-high standards for yourself and others. And let’s face it, nobody’s perfect! So, striving for that impossible perfection just leads to stress, disappointment, and major “I’m not good enough” vibes.
- Self-criticism and guilt: That ‘should’ mindset is like your own personal guilt trip. You’re constantly beating yourself up for not meeting those lofty expectations.
- Lack of fulfillment: Being stuck in a ‘should’ mindset keeps you from doing what truly lights you up. It’s like wearing someone else’s shoes when yours are way cooler.
- Limited flexibility and creativity: A ‘should’ mindset is like being stuck in a cage. It stifles your ability to think outside the box.
- Strained relationships: Imposing your ‘shoulds’ on others can be a relationship buzzkill. It’s like trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
- Fear of judgment: Living with a ‘should’ mindset is basically living in fear of what others think.
- Loss of autonomy: That ‘should’ mindset puts you in a self-made prison, robbing you of your freedom to be your true, authentic self.
- Missed opportunities: The problem with ’shoulds’ is that they blind you to amazing opportunities that don’t fit your narrow expectations.
- Increased stress and anxiety: The ‘should’ game is a surefire way to stress yourself out and turn your anxiety up to 11. It’s like wearing a heavy backpack filled with unrealistic expectations.
- Lack of self-acceptance: Living in a ‘should’ world means you’re not fully accepting yourself for the incredible person you are.
🤔Did any of those resonate with you?
➡️ Do you feel like you’re holding yourself back?
➡️ Are you creating unnecessary stress for yourself or others?
➡️ Are you down on yourself most of the time?
➡️ Do you feel that where you spend your time is out of alignment with who you really are?
If you answered yes to any of those, do not worry, friend. I got the answer for you.
Instead of ‘shoulding’ all over yourself try embracing acceptance.
Here are 10 ways make this one shift to ditch the “should” mindset and embrace acceptance:
- Give yourself some love: Cut yourself some slack and show yourself some major kindness. Remember, nobody’s perfect! Embrace those imperfections and realize it’s totally cool to make mistakes or not meet all those ‘should’ expectations. It’s time to kick that guilt to the curb and embrace some self-love.
- Question those ‘should’ thoughts: Seriously, ask yourself if those ‘should’ statements are legit or just a bunch of societal pressure nonsense. Are they really aligned with your values and goals, or are they just what everyone else expects? Time to do some soul-searching, my friend.
- Go with the flow: Flexibility is the name of the game. Be open to changing your plans or taking a different path. Life throws curveballs, and what you thought you ‘should’ do might not be the best move anymore. Adapt and roll with it! Try new things, and embrace your inner trailblazer. Break free and let that creative genius soar!
- Focus on leveling up: Forget about those external expectations and concentrate on your own personal growth. Instead of stressing about what you ‘should’ be doing, ask yourself what you want to learn, improve, or achieve for your own badass self. Embrace what brings you joy and fulfillment, not what you think you ‘should’ be doing.
- Zen it out with mindfulness: Be present, be chill, and observe those thoughts without freaking out. Mindfulness helps you spot those sneaky ‘should’ patterns and gives you the power to let them go. Peace out, unnecessary ‘shoulds’! It’s time to drop that load of ‘shoulds’ and embrace some inner calm and peace.
- Practice the gratitude attitude: Switch your focus to the good stuff you already have in your life and appreciate the hell out of it. Gratitude flips the script from scarcity to acceptance, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
- Set goals you can totally rock: Instead of forcing those rigid ‘should’ statements, set goals that are actually achievable and align with your desires. Break ’em down into bite-sized chunks and give yourself a high-five for each step you crush along the way.
- Rally the squad: Share your struggles with your ride-or-die crew, your family, or a therapist. Chatting about your ‘should’ battles can bring in fresh perspectives and some serious love and support. You’re not alone in this! Return the favor and let people be their fabulous selves without forcing your ‘shoulds on them. Love and accept them for who they are.
- Soul-search with style: Take some chill time to reflect on your values, priorities, and what really lights you up. When you live authentically, those unnecessary ‘shoulds’ can bounce right off you. Be you!! Break those chains and dance to your own tune. Embrace your autonomy and live life on your terms!
- Embrace the wild ride: Life’s a rollercoaster.. Embrace the unpredictability, accept that things won’t always go as planned, and ride that wave of acceptance like a total boss. It’s really about this one shift to acceptance.
To understand whether your ‘should’ statement is rational and not a false sense of obligation, ask yourself, “Why is this important?” When you can provide a reason that is rational and not based on underlying fear or guilt, then it is a relevant thought.
Unhelpful ‘should’ statements can make us inflexible in our decisions and may leave us feeling stuck in our situation. Here are a few examples of how to make this one shift from a ‘should’ mindset to acceptance:
➡️ I should have just said ‘yes’.
I don’t always have to do things to make others happy, especially when I’m exhausted.
➡️ I should have made more progress by now.
I am trying my best. I will get there at my own pace.
➡️ I should not have overshared.
I was emotionally vulnerable and that is okay. It happens to all of us.
➡️ I should have done better.
I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.
➡️ I should not have procrastinated
I will make the most of the time I have left and manage my tasks better moving forward.
Wrapping Up Your ‘Shoulds’
Breaking free from the “should” mindset means living a life that’s true to you, filled with self-love, and sprinkled with authenticity. So, ditch those ‘shoulds’ once and for all.
Remember, ditching the ‘should’ mindset and embracing acceptance is a journey, not an overnight thing. So, be patient, have fun with it.
When you do, you’ll be open to new experiences that will lead you to incredible adventures.
You got this! Embrace your quirks, celebrate your uniqueness, and give yourself a big ol’ hug of self-acceptance.