(99) How to Stop Shoulding (& Follow Your Heart)

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

The world's worst word. And everybody uses it.

There are some things in life to be avoided: ice-water showers, on-coming traffic, irate mothers-in-law and one awful word.

Supposedly, this simple word fosters delusions and cultivates the heaviness of guilt.

It is probably not that bad, but should has never had anything to do with reality, and it never will.

Like last Saturday morning. This is the time I should do some in-house stuff, but the sun was shining, the air was warm, and I wanted to go outside.

If I had stayed in to work, I would have felt irritable, even angry; so, I went out, which turned my should into a should have, and I was left with an underlying feeling of unease (read guilt).

Do you think I am over-reacting, dramatizing?

Then, how about exercise? Lately, my program has felt somewhat difficult and a bit boring, but because it is good for me, I should stay with it.​​​​​​​

Now, I have been through this before, and I know that the feeling of difficult/boring will continue to grow, until I finally quit.

When I do quit, my should becomes yet another should have and I feel uneasy.

And then there is my Father. Most will agree that I should love him, which too often means that I should not have any negative feelings toward him. If a negative feeling does come up, my should not can keep me from acknowledging it.

And if I do any acknowledging, I will feel badly, because I should not be feeling that way.

Even worse, what happens when one of my should nots backlashes into a should not have?

Should automatically creates a no-win situation; and, no matter where the word comes from (me, them or thee), it always feels as if a morally-weighted finger is wagging in my direction.

Oh, and the word itself is lifeless; it contains zero energy, and it is often accompanied by a sigh.

What I really should do is stop shoulding all over myself (and those around me), because:

Without should in my exercise program, I can admit that the exercises are hard and boring; and instead of pushing myself to climb stairs that have no end, ride a bike that goes nowhere or run a treadmill to the same place, I can look for some movement that is -- are you ready for it? -- fun.

Without should on Saturday morning, I can freely re-schedule the work, without guilt, and fully enjoy a beautiful morning.

And without should constipating my emotions, I can acknowledge any negative feelings I have for my Dad, and begin to let them go. I would then be less defensive with him, be more accepting of him and able to share more of myself with him.


Choice, on the other hand, is full of life. Choosing comes with a wonderful feeling of freedom, and the words, I want to! are energizing. They can propel us, enliven our lives and even stir those around us.

But wait! What about religious directives?

Even moral and religious commands can be empowering choices rather than shoulds.


To sum up: I should but don’t want to and probably didn’t. I shouldn’t but want to and maybe did. Did I?

Should we then delete the word from the dictionary, along with its ill-bred spawn (should have, should not and should not have)?

Should we pull in, highlight and

otherwise focus on the word choice and then start choosing?

Well, we probably shouldn’t, but some of us want to, and even are.

And as we do, we are letting in more intuition and the joy of following our hearts.

For more info on the subject of shoulds, this link: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-the-word-should-can-be-harmful-3-empowering-alternatives/

Trust yourself? Here is a way to tap into your deepest answers:


The very foundation of personal improvement is self-care/self-love. At this link:


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