The should story-part 2

Posted on January 25, 2013


Eco energy saving light bulb, the different concept

The use of the word “should” is a good indicator that you’re arguing with reality. The only time we use this verb is when we’re lamenting something that didn’t happen (as in: I should have saved more money) or when we’re upset about something that happened (as in: He should not have cheated on me.)

If you want to start really transforming your life, you have to start shifting your thought patterns. One of the best ways to figure out where your deeply entrenched beliefs reside is to observe when you use the word ‘should’. It’s simple and it’s straightforward but boy oh boy oh boy does this exercise get a bunch of resistance. 

Wait just a minute! you may be saying to yourself right now. Are you saying I shouldn’t have saved more money?! But I’m completely in debt! It’s screwed up my whole life! I can’t even buy a new car and I need one!


Why on earth would I want to accept the fact that he *should* have cheated on me? Are you saying I’m not attractive and that I deserve this? Are you saying that all men are scum and women should just accept when they treat us like crap? What the hell are you saying?! 

Here’s what I’m saying: Things happen. Your judgment of what happens has the power to either make you miserable or bring you peace. 

Let’s take the first example I used earlier: I should have saved more money. This is one I hear a lot from women in their late 30’s.

Who knows? Maybe you’ve been spending money irresponsibly for some time now. Maybe you live in a cushy downtown apartment you can’t afford, are driving a luxury car that’s beyond your budget and have a wardrobe that exists only because you have a credit card. Maybe those are the facts. And yes, it’s probably high time you learned how to be financially responsible and to save and invest wisely. I’m not going to argue with you on those points. 

But how is the thought-I should have saved more money-serving you in this moment? It’s taking up valuable energy and real estate in your head. Repeatedly entertaining that thought does nothing to solve your current problem. All it does is distract your mind from analyzing where you’ve gone wrong with your financial plans.

You don’t have time to sit here and think, over and over again, I should have saved more money. What you need to be using that brain to do instead is to figure out how you can make some changes now to get your finances in order. 

And this other one, the one I hear in various forms from various clients, about how an ex-partner should not have done you wrong. The example I used was He should not have cheated on me but you can sub in whatever you’d like there.

Who knows what should and should not have happened? He was a jerk, he cheated on you and what has happened has happened. Do I wish he treated you with more respect? Of course. Do I wish you weren’t hurt? Yep. Do I wish you could learn how to have a happy and healthy relationship? Yes, to all of the above.

But how does sitting here, saying to yourself, “He should not have cheated on me?” do you any good? Over and over again I’ve stated on this blog about how the first step to misery is believing that others’ actions actually mean something about you and your worth. You wanna live an unhappy life? Go around and take everything personally and then you’ll have a miserable life in no time. This thought is going to make you very unhappy. 

The He should not have cheated on me thought doesn’t solve the problem. What is does is make you miserable. A more productive use of your gray matter is to learn what you need to learn from your own life’s experiences so that you can make more conscious decisions in the future.