Stop Shoulding Check-in

We’re trying something new: a minisode in between regular episodes to check in on how we’re doing with a practice we talked about in a previous episode. We check in on how we’re doing with erasing “should” from our vocabulary, sharing some listener feedback on the subject and some other reasons to stop shoulding.


It Takes Practice to Stop Shoulding

“Should” is so embedded in our culture’s language that when we try to stop using it, we’re undoing decades of conditioning, so it won’t happen overnight! Be patient with yourself, rather than thinking, “You shouldn’t say should!” We definitely don’t want this practice to become a frustration and another reason to judge yourself and others. If it really doesn’t make you happier, don’t do it! But we think it will immediately boost your happiness and well-being.

We’ve made a couple of small but important changes to the language in this podcast. Instead of saying the podcast is “about working on where you need to get it together” – now we’re going to say “where you want to get it together.” We realized that “need to” was a should in sheep’s clothing!

And in the intro to Get It Together / Got It Together, we used to say that we’ll “share something that’s going well for us right now and something that needs work,” we’ll say, “something we’d like to work on.” It’s a good reminder that all of these things are a work in progress.


More Reasons to Stop Shoulding

Melia has been thinking about another couple of reasons to stop shoulding: It absolves you of finding your own why — you just take at face value that something is expected or desirable instead of asking whether it would bring YOU closer to the life you want.

It can also signal to other people that you think they should be doing something, even if you are really only holding yourself to that standard. Like “I should lose weight” — other women will look at you and think, “Well if she thinks she needs to lose weight, then she must think I really need to.” You could say instead, “I’d like to get in shape so my clothes fit better,” and then it’s about your own happiness and goals.

Or with parenting – if you say, “I need to get the kids new outfits for their Easter portraits” then people might think, “To be a good parent, a) Do I need to be taking Easter portraits of my kids, and b) Do they need new outfits for these pictures?” If you phrase it as “I want to get the kids new outfits,” then it frames it as a personal preference and choice, something that will make you happy and not an expectation you have for all parents.

Gill is very susceptible to other people’s “shoulds” and is slowly getting better at questioning them as they come up. Because when other people say, “I should do X, Y and Z,” it can send her into a tailspin because they seem to be doing fine in those areas!


How We’ve Been Doing with the “Stop Shoulding” Practice

Melia hasn’t erased “should” completely, just out of pure convenience, because it takes more time and thought to identify a should and figure out a more intentional way to say it. A baby step is to say “should” with awareness, using air quotes in your mind and translating it into more intentional language for next time.

For example, when Melia drops Avery off at school, instead of asking, “Should she sit here?” another way to say it is “Okay if she sits here?’ It’s a subtle difference, but it takes away a little obligation that doesn’t need to be there. And at work we talk about the tasks we “should” do in the upcoming week, when we mean that it’s something that would benefit them or our team.

Gill has still said “should” plenty in the last few weeks, but this past weekend, Brian and I had a bunch of errands and tasks on our to-do list, and I was proud that I didn’t say, “Ugh, we should get to the store and then finish that project…” I said, “We could do those errands today to get them out of the way. And then what about that other thing? Do we want to do that today or can it wait?” It felt a lot less stressful.


We hope you enjoyed our first minisode and tune in to the next episode!