The Case of the Should Haves*

19Sep09

I hate the word should.

As far as I’m concerned it needs to be banned from the English language. Think that’s harsh? Take a minute to think of the instances where we use the word should.

I should be doing this.
I should have done that.
I should’ve.

Were any of those instances positive? Not at all.

Whichever way you use the word should, it tells us we’re not doing enough, or it denotes regret. The word should, by its dictionary definition, is used to indicate duty, propriety or expediency.  None of which are positive.

Why then, is that word ingrained in our brains? Why is it so programmed into us that we constantly get cases of The Should Haves.  My tummy does saltos just thinking about it, and I’m not exactly a gymnast.

Whether directly from our parents, or indirectly from outside sources, we are taught from a young age to do more, be more, and want more. However, the only way to achieve the elusive more dream is by doing something all the time, every minute of every day.

I have a day off. I should get in to see the doctor, do groceries, get my errands done.
I have an hour with nothing to do. I should clean the litter box, colour my hair, etc.
I have five minutes to myself. I should put the dishes away.

While being uber productive gets things done, it leaves no time for loved ones, hobbies, or downright fun. That’s when The Should Haves sneak in the backdoor.

I’ve started to personify The Should Haves, turning them into a little gang of unsightly creatures with too many legs and sharp dripping teeth. And of course they move really fast and jump at me. When they take hold it feels like being attacked by something. Even at the end of a very productive day I sometimes feel them lurking in the closet… or worse… under the bed… their teeth dripping with venomous saliva, their claws scrapping down my spine. Up come the covers, right over my head, until they find a juicier treat.

Most of the time when I catch myself saying, “Oh, I should have done that today” it’s in reference to something I actually really enjoy doing, like reading, sewing or writing. Even in the case of enjoyable chores, a Should starts sinking its teeth in. I find myself getting dragged down by the Shoulds more and more.

I’ve decided the only way to keep them at bay is to turn them into something positive. Instead of saying, “I should work on this today,” I’ve started to say, “I’d like to work on this today.”

By changing should to like, it automatically switches my thinking from the negative to the positive. In doing so, it also changes the entire way I look at, and feel about, the activity I’m thinking about. It even takes away the internal, and sometimes external, groan that goes along with The Should Haves.

Once we start noticing the negative effects that this one little word has on our psyche, it’s a matter of replacing that word with its more positive counterpoint. After a few weeks of implementing this word swap, I find myself doing and enjoying more than ever before, without any negativity weighing me down. Using the word should makes things seem like an unpleasant chore. Using the word like automatically denotes warm fuzzy feelings. It puts the pleasure back into things.

Give it a try. Whether it’s an old hobby that’s fallen by the wayside, or everyday dishes, after doing this for a few short weeks you may find yourself, not just being more productive, but sincerely enjoying things more.

At the very least, it should be an interesting experiment! 😉

* as posted in The Naughty Gypsy Women’s Group on Facebook. I really, really, really hate the word should and wanted to share this again.

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