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:
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:
Step Two: Add a get out clause
Now add a get out clause using ‘but’. For example:
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!