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.
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 healthierI would like to make some healthy changes to my diet I should be in a healthy and thriving successful relationshipRelatinships 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 happyI would like to feel happier, everyone has hard days I should go to the gym every dayI would like to make more time to focus on my health I should be able to draw betterDrawing is hard for me I should be able to handle all of my responsibilitiesI have a lot on my plate right now and am feeling overwhelmed I should have a better jobI 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,