I Stopped Saying the Word “Should” for One Month

I Stopped Saying "Should" | Denver Metro Moms Blog
Photo by Volkan Olmez

Not too long ago, I reached a point in motherhood where I constantly talked about the things I “should” be doing: I should take care of my health. I should spend more time reading with my child. I should go to school. I should, should, should. I got so caught up in what I “should” be doing that I lost sight of what I would, could, or wanted to be doing. I was stuck in a state of passiveness.

Here’s the deal with the word “should”: It has multiple meanings. It can mean there is something you ought to be doing. “I should improve my diet.” It can be a judgement. “I should be more patient.” It can also be a side step from doing something or from facing a reality. “I should work out more {but I’m not going to}.”

One day, I got tired of feeling overwhelmed and removed the word “should” from my vocabulary. My husband and I were learning about meditation practices, some of which encouraged us to come up with a physical or mental exercise to address habits or harmful thought processes. I chose to create my own practice, which involved an entire month where I could not use the word “should.” Let me tell you, that was not easy! I sounded ridiculous at first. I had to stop and restart my sentences many times because I had to rethink everything I said. After a while of reworking my vocabulary, here’s what I learned:

Decision Making

Instead of saying I should be doing something, I had to say that I would or would not. I didn’t turn into Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man,” saying “yes” to everything. I just wasn’t allowed to say “should,” so I had to evaluate the situation, make a decision, and move forward.

Grace and Honesty

Instead of passing judgement on myself, I strove to evaluate each situation honestly and graciously. Why do I feel I “should” be doing this? Am I being reasonable? Is this really important enough to pursue? I’m not going to feel guilty about this anymore, so how can I act on it or let it go?


Instead of avoiding topics, I had to face them. Am I avoiding a decision? If so, why? What realities do I need to face, and what can I do or say to get these burdens, not just off my shoulders, but handled well and constructively?

Overall, my should-free month changed the way I spoke and the way I thought. There is still room to improve, but I appreciate having a greater awareness of my success or failure in evaluating what I will do, can do, and want to do– not what I “should” do. If you are constantly struggling with self-doubt or unhappiness, I challenge you to pay attention to your language. See if you find yourself using any particular language over and over again. Take a month to eliminate that language from your vocabulary. You may find the challenge of expressing your ideas without that particular word or phrase helps you find some answers to your struggles.

Will you accept our challenge? What are you removing from your vocabulary this month?

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Audra is a Colorado mountain girl turned Denver Metro suburbanite. She is wife to her high school sweetheart, mother to a wonderfully unconventional teenager, and servant to a variety of four-legged creatures. She has enjoyed the experience of staying home with her son, loving (and sometimes simply surviving) the many tasks of motherhood. Hand in hand with her husband and kiddo, she’s faced bugs and mud, picky eating wars, teenage challenges, and the many stages of autism. Through it all, she has found strength, love, and a healthy appreciation for good humor (also wine). Currently, she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, embracing her passion for technology and working towards a career in software development.


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