Today I made a potentially life-changing decision: I banned the word should from my vocabulary. It is gone, banished just like in a good old-fashioned fairy tale. To be honest, I have been slowly working toward making this move, but now is the right time to finally make the break. Yes, I’m breaking up with “should” and it feels completely liberating.
To be perfectly honest, the actual use of the word “should” will probably stick around for some time but the sentiment, the hold of its meaning on me, is consciously being let go. What the word implies for me is an emphasis on outside expectations. Things which I “should” do became synonymous with things I am “required” to do, things which I really don’t want to do but feel I need to do. I “should” do them out of obligation or tradition or because of an arbitrary standard set by popular culture. “Should” implies judgement, as if what I would choose for myself is somehow not valid.
I’ve balked at giving up the “shoulds” out of fear it would make me lazy. After all, I should vacuum, wash the dishes and take care of other seemingly uninspiring tasks like returning emails and phone calls. I should do the extra bit of work, give the extra effort, strive for perfection in multiple areas of my life and generally be productive at all times.
But in this dialogue of “should” I have learned some universal truths about myself and my life: 1. I am not lazy. 2. Rest and recovery are crucial. 3. No one else will look after my happiness. That task is up to me. 4. Looking after my happiness is the most important job I will ever have. 5. I am stronger than I think I am and I am capable of much more than I think. It’s not laziness that holds me back, it’s lack of confidence.
If I want confidence to be my currency, I can’t get caught up in my “shoulds.” I need to trust myself. The advantage of this heat wave gripping the Northeastern United States is that it forces me to slow down, to choose wisely and with purpose what I want to do and when. Instead of looking for relief from the heat, I can look at what it’s giving me — a chance for rest and recovery along with opportunity to evaluate what it is I really want in this moment.