Tyrannised by 'Shoulds'?

Tyrannised by 'Shoulds'?

Do you tyrannise yourself with ‘shoulds’?
Try these softening steps.

Albert Ellis, a pioneer of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) observed that the demands we make of the world and ourselves are littered with words like ‘should’, ‘must’, and ‘ought’ (together with their opposite, ‘not’).

He even coined a special word for it - ‘musturbation’ - to describe these inflexible demands.  

Should-ing regularly comes up in coaching. Especially when clients have high standards, and drive themselves hard to do well. And yes, I used to be a huge musturbator too, so I know all about it!

The trouble is, when we ‘should’ ourselves, our motivation is often based on a sense of obligation, rather than a genuine want or desire. The result can be exhausting, disempowering and self-defeating.

So... how do you stop?

Consciously and deliberately replace your demanding ‘should’ language with instructions that are more constructive.

Change your language in order to change your mindset.

How? Here’s a two-step process:

  1. Replace the rigid demand with a softer alternative.
  2. Add a get-out clause.

Step One: Replace the rigid demand with a softer alternative

Identify the words ‘must’ / ‘should’ / ‘ought’ and replace them with words like ‘I’d like to’ / ‘I’d prefer’ / ‘it would be nice’.  For example:

  • I must get a perfect result… becomes… I'd like to get a perfect result
  • I should know everything about this… becomes… It would be nice to know everything about this
  • I must not fail… becomes… I’d prefer not to fail

Step Two: Add a get out clause

Now add a get out clause using ‘but’. For example:

  • I'd like to get a perfect result…. but if I don’t, I’ll find a way to make this work
  • It would be nice to know everything about this… but I know there’s always more to learn
  • I’d prefer not to fail… but, whatever happens, I know I can learn from it

Why not give it a go? As a strategy to tackle the should-er in you, this one's a great start.

From my own experience, and that of hundreds of clients, I can vouch for the fact that liberating yourself from should-ing will not only benefit your mental health, it will improve your focus, productivity and confidence too.

P.S. If your challenge is more that you ‘should’ other people, this process is equally effective – and equally desirable!

Found this helpful? Great! If you recognise you're a 'should-er' and you’d like support to stop, do get in touch. I’m here and ready to help. Let’s master those musturbations! 

 

Newsletter