My friend (and fellow speaker) Mike Robbins, posts a great comment on use of the word should on his blog today. Since that’s one of my favorite topics, I replied at his blog. However, I also wanted to put my comments here. Please add yours too!
You prompted a big one for me!
As a “recovering perfectionist,” I realized that I never measured up so when I lost my weight, I gave up on the word “should” as I realized that was a word used by the “invisible committee of they” to run my life. “You should be a better dad!” “You should be skinnier!” “You should be richer, smarter, taller, faster…” They were messages comparing me to an unattainable ideal with the sole purpose to make me feel bad.
And, on top of that, to whom do you try and explain? There’s no “court of appeal” that gives you the option to learn. THEY just tell you that you’re not good enough.
So, I decided I wouldn’t use the word anymore. However, a good friend of mine became concerned and pointed out that “should” is also the “moral word.” It’s what tells us how to be “good people” and if we don’t do what we “should” do, we might be “bad” (poor choice of words – but I’m sure you get it) people.
I gave some thought to that and was able to work it out by coming up with 3 questions. When I feel like I “should” do something, I ask myself these 3 questions in order:
1) Do I NEED to do that?
This takes care of my responsibilities, such as exercise, doctor’s visits, paying taxes, etc. I might not like doing them, but it’s the “adult” thing to do and the price for not doing them is too high.
2) Do I WANT to do that?
I believe we never grow up, we merely become “wrinkled kids.” That inner child still has dreams. They must be acknowledged. So, this is where I go for walks, relax, play. I don’t “need” to do these per se but life is too bland without them.
3) In the answer to the first 2 questions is “no,” I ask myself: If the roles were reversed, would I want someone else to do this for me?
That takes care of the moral responsibilities. I don’t “need” to donate to charity. I might not even “want” to donate to charity (as example). But should I ever be on the receiving end, Id’s sure hope someone else was there giving. So, I donate…
By using these 3 questions, I have dropped the word “should” completely and I lead a happier, healthier, moral life. I hope it helps.