I generally have problems with the word should. Language and word choice have a powerful effect on thought-forms; certain words can color -- or shade -- the energy of your intentions in subtle ways that you are not consciously aware of.
3 Most Negative Forms of Should In my observations, should shows up over and over again in three major contexts:
- Projective Should -- expressing power over another
- Powerless Should -- giving away your personal power
- Nagging Should -- running an inner dialog of inaction
Projective Should This is the language of advice, command, and control as spoken out loud from one person to another.
"You should…" "You need to…" "You know what you need to do?"
Obviously, when you ask for advice or help -- when it is explicitly solicited -- it is acceptable. But, beware people who communicate to you with sentences that begin in this way, especially when you have not invited them to do so -- they are trying to control you.
For fifteen years, I lived in the shadow of my best friend, whose constant running monologue to everyone around him was "You should…" and "You need to…" I am sure that on some level he believed he was "helping" those he cared about, by offering his advice and leadership. Yet no one around him ever seemed capable of doing anything that wasn't directly in service to his plans for them.
He became angry and distant, even completely ignoring, any plan of action you took on your own whose origins could not be directly traced back to his recommendations. He was most comfortable spending time with people who were hungry for this kind of constant direction. I constantly challenged him, and believed to some degree that the reason I was his "best" friend was that I could always be counted on to rebel.
Ultimately, I misjudged him. I just hadn't rebelled enough. Once I began to blatantly confront the statements of what I should be doing, not to mention implementing plans of my own, I was no longer welcome in his world.
You know, if it's your mother / father / sister / brother communicating with you in this manner, it's understandable where that comes from; but becoming conscious of it and addressing it head on will change your life for the better.
Powerless Should This shows up most often in the form of questions, especially those posed to your spirit guides, guardian angels, or as a preface to prayer. You may also find yourself asking other people these questions, which in essence, gives permission for them to respond with a projective, commanding should.
"What should I do?" "Should I… or should I…?"
Used in rare circumstances, in the context of soliciting advice from someone you trust who is not prone to abuse or control, these statements can be constructive and motivated by love. Know that when you ask "should I…?" you are displaying impotence and expressing powerlessness; you are asking someone or something to take over for you. You are granting another force in your life the power of your free will by proxy. You are allowing them or expecting them to take over for you.
Those who are not hungry for power over you will not be comfortable with assuming this power. They will not jump directly into "You should…" and "What you need to do is…" without some hesitation. They don't desire the responsibility, but will struggle in an attempt to support your power.
Avoid "should I…" in the context of prayer and soliciting assistance from your spirit guides. Remember, that they are not in control, they play a supportive role and require your direction to assist you.
Try reframing requests for divine guidance in the form of a plan. State an intention and a potential course of action, and ask your guides to weigh in:
"I intend to… Is this in line with my highest potential path and purpose? Where are my blind spots regarding this? Is there something I'm missing, here, or is there something I should be prepared to deal with as a result of taking this path? Assist me in taking this course, provide me with the resources and information I need, and present me with signs -- physical, clear signs -- that I'm on the right course. If there is a better solution, inspire me with options…"
Nagging Should The most common occurrence of should, for me personally, is the incessant internal dialogue.
"I really should…" "I need to…" "I must…"
Examine your own internal monologues and dialogues -- are you constantly presented with a laundry list of what you think you're missing? Is there a broken record playing in your head of potential ways that your life would be better, if you only first…?
A nagging logic of options: "If I did ____, then something desirable would occur…" "If I could only make myself ____, everything would fall into place…"
On some level, you're weighing possible courses of action, arguing for or against the various ways you could approach the idea of change or progress.
This internal conversation has the potential to loop to infinity, with absolutely no decision or course of action ever taking place!
"I should, I need to…" You can take this format and fill in the blanks indefinitely and create a constant soundtrack of hesitation and self-doubt. (At its most extreme -- paralyzing psychic noise.)
What about just telling yourself I can? I've been experimenting with various substitute affirmations and re-framing techniques for nagging should and I've come up with an alternative that works really well for me:
I can Take any "I should" statement and substitute the words "I can."
Most of these things that you tell yourself you should do are courses of action you believe to be within your power or else you wouldn't be considering them.
I could You might also use a softer transition I could to shift into a position of empowerment. I could is a healthier presentation of options, and plays off powerful statements of wonder and possibility -- "What if…?" "I wonder…"
Sure you could; of course you could You could do anything, given a commitment of your personal will. Could still leaves too much room for doubt. It lives in hesitation.
I can leaves all your options open, with an acknowledgment of your power. Without nagging you or simply presenting you with fodder for all the things that you're failing to do.
I can is an absolutely true statement with no deadline. It is free of requirements of any kind, it is simply an affirmation of power.
Try it this week -- every time you catch yourself thinking "I should" or "I need to" simply reframe those statements as "I can..." and observe how it shifts your power.
This post is an extension of the conversation started in Better Messages for Manifesting.