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Should is a Four Letter Word

August 10, 2011

The most damaging word in the English language is probably not the word you would expect.  It is not a racial epithet, a derogatory defamation, or the word hate.  The most damaging word in the English language is should.

Should is the word we use to undermine the talents, skills, abilities, differences, qualities, quirks, and true uniqueness of other people that makes them who they are.

You should be able to get better grades.  You should have played harder in the soccer game today.  You should have gotten a promotion already.  You should lose 20 pounds.   You should make more money at your age.  You should have kids.  You should not have had so many kids.  You should be doing more with your life.  You should have made more of yourself.

It is also the word we use to do that to ourselves.

I should be able to run faster.  I should be able to make more money.  I should be thinner, taller, richer, more loving, less picky, more fit, or less scattered.  I should, I should, I should.

The problem with all these shoulds is that they send the message that regardless of what you ARE doing, it isn’t enough.

It tells your child “Even though I know you love to paint and you have a unique talent for creating art, that doesn’t matter because you aren’t getting A’s in math and science.  Being good at art isn’t good enough.  You should study more, try harder, and once you have an A in math and an A in science, you will be good enough”.

It says to your spouse “Even though you are caring, kind, loving, emotionally supportive, and an amazing parent, it isn’t enough because you aren’t making more money and we can’t afford to go on vacation this year.  You should make more money, and then you will be good enough.”

It says to your psyche “While I can clearly see that you have lost 75 pounds, you are still too fat. You should lose 25 more pounds, and then you will be good enough”.

Should shoves all the special things about us – our dreams, our accomplishments, our skills, and our talents to the side simply because there are some things at which we don’t excel.

We can literally waste our lives in the pursuit of all the things we should do rather than relishing all the things we can do.

Freedom is letting go of the requirement that we must be good at everything.  It is refusing to become personality contortionists in an effort to bend and break and reform ourselves into someone else’s idea of who we should be.

Freedom is being who you truly are and seeing all the glorious things that make you talented, unique, amazing, and worthy instead of only seeing all the things you should be, but aren’t.

Call me today to find out how to make “should” a four letter word in your life.

Turning Leaf Life Coaching


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