I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

I absolutely welcome comments. It's nice to know how people relate to what I'm saying.
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Friday, 22 April 2011

The Most Evil Word in the English Langauge

Lately it's been coming up a lot - and I've been trying really hard to purge it, but it keeps coming back.


It's the most distancing, most unachieveable, most depressing, most negative and most tenacious concept there is. If I could draw horns and a tail on it, just to further my point, I would.

Recent conversations have really brought my attention to how I use it. I should be happy. I should lose weight. I should clean my car. I should, I should, I should. It's so vague, and judgmental. And the other day, I almost kicked myself for using it with my son. It's the last of the patterns I want to pass on to him. The worst though, is when I think "I should be well by now," because it simply is not true, but saying it that way makes me think badly of myself and my situation.

Think about it - every time we use the word should we remove ourselves from our current reality. We refuse ownership of the situation, and place someone else's - the elusive "they" that say so much - values where ours rightly belong. Here's an example from my drive today - this is truly a conversation that really did happen in my head:

Driving on the highway, there was a really slow truck in the middle lane that was blocking my progress.
Reaction: Expletive! That truck should be in the right-hand lane!
Then: There's should again. What if I change it?
Modified reaction: I don't like that that truck is in the middle lane.
New reaction: Wow - that really works! I own it, and it's ok that his driving habits are pissing me off! And nobody else has anything to do with it. So what are my options? [change lanes] He probably doesn't want to get off at the next exit anyway... I wonder where he's going? We still have a ways to go...
And off it went to thinking of puppy dogs and butterflies, or something like that.

So instead of blaming the bad driver (if he even is a bad driver - you can't really tell from driving behind someone for less than a minute), the driving courses, the licensing offices, or the Province for not making it a law to use the left and middle lanes for passing only, I was able to realize my own role in the situation, and fix it more easily, let go of my frustration and get back on track with things that actually make me happy.

Now here's a more destructive example: Sitting in my living room, watching some stupid show, I think "I should just meditate." Then I get agitated because I'm not meditating enough. Ok, so now not only am I not meditating, but now I've made my resting mechanism (allowing my mind some escape from my not-always pleasant reality while my body rests) less effective.

So reflecting on those recent conversations, I started thinking - what if I can change it: "I could be meditating right now." That gifts me with possibility. "I'm not meditating right now." That is a simple statement of fact, an acceptance of the present moment without judgment. "I would like to meditate more." Well, that one gives me the power to make a decision, doesn't it? It also honours my desire to do everything in my power to get better. Now, whether or not I do, that's a whole other conversation I need to have with my therapist.

No matter what it is used for, the evil word is a denial of actual circumstance. It reveals a lack of acceptance of any given situation, but more than that, it denies our own role in it: the responsibility to either change or accept it. It certainly does not make any activity more palatable or enjoyable. It just makes us feel guilty that we're not doing something, or being some way. And that is just plain awful.

I am doing the best I can. Period. End of story.


  1. You should have thought of and written this a long time ago.......jajajajaja
    Well said my love, well said.
    Te quiero,

  2. Thanks, Cu. Glad you got a laugh today!

  3. My therapist calls me on it when I start shoulding all over myself (she says in a way that makes it sound like she is saying sh&!ing on myself :) It is a good lesson to remember, the language we use and our own self-talk can really impact us. This is a good reminder to start to use different words and reframe so we can live more happy and grounded lives. Great insights as always! Take care.