Should statements are unhelpful and give away our power. Reclaim your power and focus on what you need instead of what “should” be.
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Welcome to I Can, I Am, I Will the podcast designed to motivate and encourage you so you can build your confidence your self-empowerment.
Today we’re going to talk about a cognitive distortion called “should”. Or what I call—I refer to it as— “shoulda woulda coulda.” Because I’m like really cool, not dorky in like any way at all what so ever.
For those of you who are new, my name is Lyndsey. And with this podcast we talk about concepts and topics that are going to help you change your mindset to a powered empowered mindset. We’re going to help you build your confidence, get empowered, take healthy risks so you can live a life that you will love.
Before we dive in make sure to hit that like and subscribe button. You can contact me, find transcripts of episodes, read articles, and support the podcast at canamwill.com. Thank you for your support I really appreciate it, and I would love to hear from you.
Should Statements and Giving Away Power
I talked about cognitive distortions in episode 60 with emotional reasoning. Cognitive distortions are unhelpful thinking habits. So think of cognitive as a fancy way of saying thought. So it’s a thought distortion. It’s when you think with distorted thoughts.
Related article: 7 Examples of Emotional Reasoning and 11 Ways It’s Keeping You Stuck
Think of it like looking at life with like a dirty lens. Aaron T Beck is the founder of cognitive behavioral therapy and with his patients he noticed that they had very similar thinking patterns. There are 15 thinking patterns, he named them cognitive distortions, the thinking distortions. And they were all associated with patients who had anxiety and depression.
We are going to talk about “should statements” today because they are something that can contribute to anxiety and depression. Not only that, they can take away your power. You give away your power when you focus on the way that things should be instead of focusing on what you need them to be in order for you to feel fulfilled.
A should statement is a statement with the word “should” in it. It can be externally or internal. What I mean by that is externally you could say everyone “should” be kind to everyone, or people should mind their own business.
Then it can be internally with yourself if you think “I should be more talkative” or “I should be more extroverted” or “I should be more this or that”. Both of these, the internal and external statements, are negatively impactful because they create an expectation.
Should Statements, Expectations and Let Downs
Of course we all have expectations. However just because we have a particular expectation does not mean that everyone else got that memo. Also we cannot control other people. So while you may think everyone “should be kind.” Another person could have been brought up in an environment where they don’t necessarily think that they need to be kind to anyone except themselves and their immediate family.
You might think that if you invite someone over to your house they “should” offer to bring something. Someone else might think that if they are a guest they shouldn’t have to bring anything at all.
These should statements are going to create a rift between you and your environment. It could be between you and a specific person, or it could be you and the world in general. Because they feel really heavy.
We have these expectations. And if we feel like the world is not adhering to our expectations of what “should” be then we can start to feel anxious, nervous, depressed, stressed. Then we’re giving our power away because we’re focused on what should be instead of what is.
When we operate in the world we are operating with what is not what should be. Think of it like a tool box. You’re working with the toolbox you were given. Going back to the law of attraction. We’re working with a manifested reality.
And, yes everyone “should” be kind. Children should be born healthy. There shouldn’t be any such thing as childhood cancer. Everyone should love each other just as much as they love themselves. They should know how to love themselves.
Is that reality, though? No.
Reframing “Should” Statements with Needs
Should we be focused on what isn’t? No.
It’s not healthy. The same thing for internal. So if you’re thinking, “I should be more this” or “I should be less that” I want you to ask yourself “why?” Why should you? Did someone tell you that? Or are you telling yourself that?
Did you read it somewhere? Why should you? Ask yourself and then when you answer that question ask yourself again. And keep asking “why?” until you get down to that deep rooted reasoning that you believe you “should” be something.
I want you to also consider reframing “should”. So put a little query alert in your brain. Every time you use the word “should” put a little ping. Then you bring it to conscious awareness— conscious thought— when you use the word should.
You’ll consciously acknowledge it, and instead of saying “should” try using the word “need”. This is how you do it. Say you’re going out on a date and you think that the date should be an active listener, should be attentive, and shouldn’t be on their phone.
That’s what you think “should” happen. And then say you go out on a date and then the person is on their phone, not actively listening. And you’re sitting there wondering what is going on, thinking this should not happen, this should not be happening.
Instead of thinking that. Think, “when I go on out on a date, in order for me to be interested in someone, I need them to: actively listen, to be attentive and not be hung up on their phone.”
So then if you go out on a date and the person’s not listening, and they’re on their phone. In your mind you’ll be thinking, “well I need someone not on their phone and to actively listen in order for me to be interested. This is obviously not a good fit. Bye”
Do you see the difference there?
If you go out on a date and the person is not listening. Then when you go home after the date, instead of mulling it over and thinking, “they should have listened to me, they should have done this”. And instead of giving your power away and focusing on them and what they should have been doing, you’re focusing on yourself.
You’re saying, “I need attentiveness, I need someone to not be on their phone. That person is not a good look for me. I’m not liking that journey.” And that’s it. Done! You’re going to come from a more empowered place because you’re focusing on what you need not what “should” be.
Going back to that law of attraction, when you focus on what you need then you are calling it forward. You are commanding it into presence. instead of thinking what you don’t want or what someone else is doing, you’re focused on what you need. You’re telling the universe, “ this is what I’m asking for.”
Focusing on Your Needs
This is also a great opportunity for you to figure out what you need. Sometimes we don’t even think about it because we’re taught to focus on other people.
What do you need in a partner? What do you need on a date? What do you need at work for a good job? What do you need?
Because when you use the word “should” an you’re saying how things “should” be what you’re actually doing is just saying what you particularly need, but you’re coming from a place of low empowerment. So change that by switching out those words and focus on what you need in order for you to consider a day successful, or job successful, or friendship, or whatever else.
In regards to you internally and what you “should” be. Like if you think you “should” be more extroverted, ask yourself?: why? Is it because you’re going to do a podcast? Then yeah you’re going to need to be like a little bit more extroverted.
But besides that, why should you do anything besides be yourself? Maybe you need to work on improving your emotional intelligence in order to connect better with other people. But if you’re telling yourself you “should” do it, I feel like should is a couch word. You say you should do something and then you don’t get off the couch. You flip to another thing on the TV.
But if you need to do something, then you are telling yourself with momentum. You need to do this. That’s a different kind of statement you’re making. You are you’re telling yourself “this is something I need to do” and then you are more likely to do it than if you say you should do it.
With that we’re going to end with our I affirming statements. You can say them with me, you do not have to. You can do whatever you would like.
Are you ready?
Have a great day.
Related article: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Thoughts
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