Before I start my day I set about creating a to do list. I add things to it like the phone calls I want to make, errands I need to do and any marketing or blogging which needs to be done as well personal stuff.
And then more often than not as I get to the end of the list I begin to think about the 'shoulds'!
By adding the 'shoulds' to my list such as “I should make time for exercise” or “I should do ....” I begin to feel pressure mounting.
The dread of doing the things I ‘should’ be doing begins to take my focus away from the present and what had started out with enthusiasm to get the job done begins to feel like a burden adding additional worry with the dreaded fear beginning to creep in!
You may have noticed that you yourself regularly use 'should' statements to describe your everyday life and it is these statements which can cause or contribute to developing anxiety, stress and mental health conditions.
The ‘should’s in your life might sound like...
I should have told him/her to...
I should have done...
I should never have...
I should be doing...
When I look up the meaning of the word 'should' in the Oxford dictionary it describes it as being used to indicate obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticising someone’s actions.
So what can be done about the burdening and imposing ‘should list’?
Here’s a few ideas to help:
Begin to recognise when you use the word ‘should’ and in doing so take a breath using the acronym STOP
Make a note of them so that you can check to see if they are valid 'shoulds' or whether they are contributing to any anxiety or whether they represent guilt or anger.
Notice if they are based on truth or belief
Recognise whether they have a negative influence on your physical health i.e. notice any tension held in the various parts of the body
Reframe the statement where possible and base it on truth - otherwise it won't work
Rather than “I should exercise every day” you might reframe to “ I want to exercise regularly and so I will create a proper plan to do so”
Notice others who impose ‘should’ statements on you - if it doesn’t feel good then it’s probably not based on truth
Lastly don’t beat yourself up about what you should and shouldn’t do as this will only contribute to your worry and anxiety. Worrying is a problem and not a solution.
Seek help if necessary and if you want to include counselling to help you get to the bottom of your ‘should’ statements and negative beliefs then give me a call to arrange an appointment.
Julie Kuhn Counselling for You - 07478754839