Conversations with myself used to be filled with shoulds and shouldn’ts.
I should have said that.
I shouldn’t have done that.
I shouldn’t have opened my mouth.
I shouldn’t have pressed snooze.
I should have known better.
I should have called.
I shouldn’t have interfered.
I should have thought of that.
Also, Conversations with my kids used to be filled with shoulds and shouldn’ts.
You should have worn your coat.
You should have gone to bed earlier.
You should get up a little earlier.
You should have asked first.
You should have thought of that last night.
You shouldn’t go out with wet hair.
You shouldn’t have said that.
You should have known better.
You know what you should do now … (cringe!)
… and the list goes on!
This was until I began to pay attention to
1) my INTENTION and
2) my TONE OF VOICE
behind each should / shouldn’t message.
I realised my shoulds/shouldn’ts were filled with judgement.
The underlying message to myself was that I had messed up or I had made a mistake or said/done something wrong.
Similarly, the underlying message when I spoke with my kids (or anyone else) was that you’ve made a mistake, listen to me because I know better than you and you need my advice and my help!
So I decided to BAN THE SHOULD 😊
As soon as I began to pay attention to my words, I realised shoulds/shouldn’ts were popping up all over my conversations!!! I was totally unaware of how frequently I was using should/shouldn’t.
With practise, I began to catch myself just before saying ‘should/shouldn’t’ and rephrasing what I was about to say with words that were less critical and therefore building more loving relationships with myself, my kids and others.
Example: ‘I should … … …’
I agree to meet a friend after work at 8pm. I also know I’ll be working till 7pm so I’ve put myself under pressure to meet at 8pm but I stick with the arrangement. That evening I’m rushing and feeling stressed to be there on time. I dash home, grab a banana as a quick snack and dash out again, without a moment to pause.
Later I hear myself saying to myself
- ‘I shouldn’t have agreed to 8 o’clock at all.
- I should have rescheduled.
- I should have thought it through.
- I should have known better.
- I should, should, should …!’
When I notice my ‘shoulds’ and my ‘shouldn’ts’ I have an opportunity to rephrase my judgement of myself and practise being kinder with myself. I can instead say compassionately
- ‘I was trying to fit in everything and I put myself under pressure (facts).
- Next time I’ll remember that I need more time after work before going back out (compassion, forgiveness and kindness for self)’.
Each time I practise catching and rephrasing a ‘should/shouldn’t’, I’m increasing my own conscious awareness around the language I use.
My conversations with myself have become kinder.
My conversations with my kids and everyone else are less judgemental and more respectful.
My conversations aren’t 100% ‘should’-free, but nowadays when I say ‘should/shouldn’t’ I notice (most of the time) and take a moment to rephrase what I was about to say, and quite often I realise I don’t want to say it any more!
I love this practise.
It makes a big difference in my life and in all my relationships.
*Notice the SHOULD, Rephrase the SHOULD, Ban the SHOULD 😊