“I should be eating healthy.” “I should not eat that.” “I should have lost more weight by now.” “I should start exercising.” You might not see anything out of place with these statements. It’s a common habit to motivate ourselves to change with this approach. However, should statements generate unnecessary emotional turmoil. When the reality of your own behavior falls short of your intentions, your should’s and shouldn’t create guilt, self-loathing, and frustration. Should statements do not work because they are pain-based, and in the long run, most people tend to avoid painful experiences. We are wired to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. Simply put, motivation that includes should and should not statements will most likely backfire.
What happens when you say “I should lose weight?” Chances are you created a heavy emotional burden. Just because you “should” be exercising, does not mean it’s a part of your routine. Just because you “should not” have that extra helping, does not mean you’re not eating it when no one is looking. These statements shout loud and clear “I should, but I do not want to.” It’s not only that you do not want to, but also that you will not.
Most likely, you get up every morning with a new plan of what you should do today, what your menu should look like, what you should not binge on, and when you should go work out. Your words insist that there is some set of external rules which demand how your behavior, choices, or actions are supposed to be. However, these are not the rules you want to follow, but the rules you should be following. Should absolutely translate into “I do not think so!” as choice is replaced by obligation. Should statements make us feel pressured, resentful and rebellious. As a result we respond with resistance and defiance, and follow the urge to do just the opposite.
Should statements fail to connect with the clarity and joy of choosing to do the work of achieving a certain desire or dream. They pull us from our center and from the joy of taking care of ourselves. Notice how many times a day you say “I should do this,” or “I should not have done that.” How does it feel to say those words? Listen to your words and see if you are really saying what you mean. Notice if your statements statement fuel desire and passion, or if they fuel resistance and resentment. As you move forward in your attempt to create change, are you filled with a loving perspective? Or do your rules seem punitive? Creating distinctions in the subtleties of your language can lead to a major shift in inspired, energetic, and long-term motivation.