Down with the Shoulds // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

I was going over my big list of “shoulds” the other day – and feeling quite guilty about all of the things I ought to be doing.

“I should plan better.”
“I should spend more quality time with my family.”
“I should exercise more.”
“I should pray more.”
“I should be better organized.”
“I should become a better communicator.”
Now, these are all important issues – but feeling guilty didn’t help me do better at any of them.

The burdensome “shoulds” sap the joy right out of living. They make us feel crummy.

Each “should” weighs about 200 pounds. Ten of them weigh a ton! Now, that’s a monstrous load to be carrying around on your shoulders.

Focusing on failures, faults, and shortcomings produces an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. Where do we begin when we have so many different areas to improve?

Then the light bulb went on!

“Shoulds” don’t change anything! Feeling guilty doesn’t get us any closer to where we want to be. (For some reason, managing guilt seems more attractive than managing change.)

I realized that if I’m really serious about personal growth, and making significant differences in my life, I have to change the “shoulds and oughts” to “wills and musts”.

“I will plan better.”
“I must spend more quality time with my family.”
“I will exercise more.”
“I must be better organized.”

Do you see the difference? “I will” and “I must” are declarations of commitment.

I’ll quit making excuses and start making progress! I’ll stop pondering my need for improvement, and do something about it! I’ll turn the thought into a plan. I’ll exchange guilt for hope as I anticipate the next steps.

Problems are solved when we have the courage to tackle them.

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