Combatting your “Should’s”

Combatting your “Should’s”

Family Therapist in Bethesda, MD

Back to school season is upon us. If you’re thinking, where did the summer go? I’m right there with you. Today I’d like to talk about a non-traditional back to school topic, though, that can come in handy at any time: combatting your ‘should’s.

We hold ourselves to high standards, and what we believe we should do becomes more apparent during the busy back to school transition. I should be at every school event or soccer practice. I should never bring work home. I really should be exercising. Maybe some of these things are goals or boundaries that you have drawn for yourself, and if so, great! But sometimes these thoughts–or the feelings we have about them–can make us get stuck.

Sometimes this comes in the form of observing those around us. Seeing someone else attain a promotion at work, or have their hair perfectly done in the carpool line makes us think that we should be there, too. Often, though, these standards are self-imposed. I should be there, but I’m only here, so I’m not as good or not good enough. We often feel guilty or stressed when we fail to meet our ‘should’s. We have an idea of the perfect house, or the perfect weight, or the perfect relationship, and may beat ourselves up if we don’t attain it. What would it be like instead to accept ourselves right where we are, while also striving for more?

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I really should ________?” The next time you do, catch yourself. Ask yourself, “what is this causing me to think about myself? How is it making me feel? What benefit am I gaining from giving so much power to these ‘should’s?” Think to yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen if I don’t meet this ‘should’?”

We all engage in this type of thinking. But typically, it isn’t doing us any favors. Make an effort to think more mindfully about what you tell yourself, and try to treat yourself with the kindness and compassion you show to others.