Gisa Ellis-Mawer
Gisa Ellis-Mawer
The Founder of Gisa Ellis Consulting

Have you noticed how uncomfortable it makes you feel when you ‘should yourself’ or even worse ‘shouldn’t yourself’? Like for example ‘I should go to the gym’ or ‘I shouldn’t eat so many sweets’ and so on? 

The thing is, that not only does it make you feel uncomfortable but it also does nothing positive for yourself or your life. Here is why:

  1. You are basically criticising yourself and telling yourself that you are not doing the right thing, not doing enough or what you are doing is not good enough. You are putting yourself down, and making yourself feel bad. How is that going to help you spring into positive action?
  2. Somewhere you are glossing over an internal conflict you are having, like it or not. Some part of you wants to, but the other one does not. Like you want to lose weight, but you don’t want to forsake the sweets. Sounds familiar? 
  3. You are skirting around setting proper goals, standards, values that will make you accountable and take responsibility. This means that you are leaving yourself room for manoeuvre, excuses and non-action whenever you choose to.
  4. You deny yourself the self-worth that comes from positive achievements in line with what you truly want. This includes finding out if ‘the should’ is really what you want in your life, or would it just look and sound good if you would do it? 

So, the question is what to do instead?

Here are some suggestions that help me to avoid the should’s and shouldn’ts:

  1. Think about what you truly want and why, not only in the short term, but only in the long term. Emphasise the benefits it will bring you, write them down and remind yourself on a regular basis. 
  2. Set realistic goals. Of course, it would be great to lose 10kg in one week, but that is not going to happen. Setting unrealistic goals means setting yourself up for failure. 
  3. Accept that you are human and cut yourself some slack sometime. Even with the best goals and intentions you will have little setback blips sometimes. That is OK, try again tomorrow and don’t allow yourself to go into a negative spiral.
  4. Don’t compare yourself with others, monitor your own progress instead. Everybody is different and unique. If you compare yourself, you compare apples with pears, and you might miss how much personal progress you have made so far. 
  5. Cut the should’s and shouldn’ts out of your vocabulary as much as you possibly can. Replace with I will, I do, I am. This will support positive action, focus and persistence. 

I would love to hear your thoughts! 


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