I think the word “should” can be problematic. I used to live in a cloud of shoulds, but have recently worked to replace the word “should” with “can,” “would like to,” or “would benefit from ____ because____”

Example: “I should go to the gym.” or “I would benefit from going to the gym because I need to take a break from schoolwork and endorphins can’t hurt.” The second isn’t filled with guilt. It is just a statement of what the benefit of a former “should” is. I can assess this benefit and move forward.

This may seem like semantics. It is FAR from semantics. “Should” is filled with obligation, guilt, and doesn’t sit well with people. Think of the tone of someone’s voice when they say they should do something. It isn’t a tone of merriment or wonder, but dread, fear, obligation, and the like.

I have become keenly aware of how shoulds affect others. I read an article titled “10 things to say to yourself when you don’t feel like working out.” In the article, the writer offered the phrase “A workout today is your body tomorrow.” First of all, nope. Second of all, this is a perfect example of shaming oneself into working out because your current self is inadequate. That’s a dangerous place to live.

How about this list of things to tell yourself when you don’t want to work out instead?

If you’re sleepy: “Endorphins might help me power through the afternoon. And listening to Daft Punk while walking can’t hurt.”

If it is raining: “A dance party in my house could improve the rainy-day blah feeling. Let’s try to dance with Beyonce again, then laugh when it is impossible to keep up. Laughing is the best.”

If you are sick: Don’t.

If you’re bummed: “Is there a place I could go walk around to change my mindset? Target? A park? Maybe I can get out of the house and see if that helps.”

If you haven’t worked out in a while: “I am going to put on my workout clothes and go to the gym. If I walk into the gym and STILL want to leave, I totally can.”

These seem to be filled with less of the should mentality and more of the could mentality. Just my two cents.

If you’ll excuse me, I should go get ready… I am going to get dressed to volunteer because people may be confused by my side ponytail and workout clothes if I don’t….


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