Healthy Mind Self Care

Drop those 'should' statements like a bad habit.

February 18, 2017

As a therapist, one thing I find myself taking to clients about are ‘should’ statements. These are things we tell ourselves such as…..

  • I should be skinnier
  • I should eat healthier
  • I should be in a healthy and thriving successful relationship
  • I should be happy 
  • I should go to the gym every day
  • I should be able to draw better
  • I should be able to handle all of my responsibilities
  • I should have a better job

The things about should statements are that they put these expectations on ourselves and make us feel bad when we don’t live up to them. The healthier (and more self caring) thing to do would be to take these statements and turn them into more helpful thoughts that actually encourage change or acceptance. 
For example…..

  • I should be skinner.  I would like to work on my physical appearance. Maybe by changing my diet or exercising. OR Today’s body standards are unrealistic, I am beautiful just the way i am
  • I should eat healthier  I would like to make some healthy changes to my diet
  • I should be in a healthy and thriving successful relationship Relatinships take work, everyone goes through hard times. OR I would like to meet someone, maybe I could ask a friend to set me up on a date or go meet people at yoga/art class/ church/ the gym
  • I should be happy I would like to feel happier, everyone has hard days
  • I should go to the gym every day  I would like to make more time to focus on my health
  • I should be able to draw better Drawing is hard for me
  • I should be able to handle all of my responsibilities I have a lot on my plate right now and am feeling overwhelmed
  • I should have a better job  I am employed and would like to look for other jobs OR I am thankful for the job I have to provide for myself an my family

The idea is not to replace the should statements with unrealistic happy thoughts like “I will be a millionaire tomorrow and a famous celebrity and I will have everything i want”. That wouldn’t be helpful; that would be delusional. The idea is to take the expectation and turn it into something you can work with. Like a goal or a statement of acceptance or a statement that normalizes the feeling. This allows us to actually make change or sit in acceptance. Taking away the should statement reduces shame and provides you with options. 
Wishing you well,
Kylee Alyse

Only registered users can comment.

  1. All excellent points. I like to avoid “should” statements as well as “I can’t” statements as much as possible, though I sometimes say it without even thinking. I honestly believe that doing so forces you to be much more mindful and accountable.

    1. Yes it definitely does! I feel like for me often “I can’t” statements are actually I CHOOSE not to statements. When we acknowledge choice I feel it gives us more power and control. Also more responsibility.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *