There are some words we say to ourselves that have way more power than we give them credit for.
Should, for instance, packs a powerful punch of judgment and shame.
But maybe even worse.
When you “should” on yourself, you move right past what you’re feeling, or the thoughts that are stopping you from doing something in the first place.
So, what do you do?
Do you shame yourself for not acting or thinking or feeling like “they” tell say you should?
I have another suggestion that comes with a lot less guilt and will potentially move you forward in life faster than “shoulding”.
Check out this episode for more insights on “shoulding”, a simple exercise to help you around it, and a way you can get even more support in working through the reasons you don’t do what you “should” do.
Read Full Transcript Below:
This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.
Hello, Hello, friends. Welcome to another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer.
And very excited that you're here with me today. It's been an exciting week, an exciting, busy couple weeks a month, and coming up on a really super exciting April because April 4th, Sunday, April 4th is the day that I opened the revived membership experience. And I'm really, really excited about this.
I'm excited for all the women who are already in it. And for those of you who are to come.
And you do have until this Sunday, April 4 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time to join as a founding member, which means a founding member, you guys put a little more faith in me and he joined it before it was even opening, you got to check it out. And I promise I'm going to make it worth your while.
And I've added some extra bonuses for founding members which are really exciting. You can find all the details at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived R-E-V-I-V-E-D, /revived and other details are there very excited about it.
So I hope you'll check it out. And I hope you'll join me as a founding member and get some extra goodies because I'm a big fan of extra goodies.
All right, so let's jump into the show. I want to start the show off by sharing a definition with you. Because you know, we use words all the time without really thinking about them.
And on some level though, the choice of words that we use and the verbiage that we use, it has some meaning to us. And we feel a certain way when we speak a certain way. So this word is one that I know you use all the time because we all do. It's a word that I give a lot of thought to. Because I hear members, I hear clients use it all the time. And it just reminds me of how we are so conditioned to think so that we fit in, right?
And this conditioning, it's so powerful, that even if it causes us to hurt ourselves with the way we're thinking, we tell ourselves, we deserve it. Because we're conditioned to think this way, it's pretty wild. So let me tell you exactly what I'm talking about.
So the word we're going to talk about is should. And if you kind of cringed a little bit when you heard it, that damn word should, then I don't blame you because it's cringe-worthy.
And I recently heard someone give a definition of sure to refer to it in a way that I thought was brilliant. And she said should just means could with shame attached to it.
And I thought oh my god that is spot on. And that "S" in should is totally representing shame. And here's how the Webster's dictionary here's the official definition of should.
It's a verb used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness and typically used when criticizing someone's actions, hmmm.
I thought that was pretty dang powerful. Because for as frequently as we use the word should think about all of that guilt and shame we're putting on ourselves with I should do this means I feel obligated. I feel like there's a duty. I feel like I'm not being correct. If I don't, I'm criticizing myself, I shouldn't do it. Same thing. I shouldn't do it. I'm not acting correctly. I'm not good enough. There's so much power in that word. Because when it comes down to it, yeah, we do use should towards other people. He shouldn't do that they shouldn't do that. And we're criticizing and judging and saying this person isn't acting correctly.
But what I'm most concerned with and what we're going to talk about in this podcast is you criticizing your own actions or nonactions. Because it's when we change and have that awareness of ourselves or in ourselves that everything else around us will start to change.
So here's the most popular quote-unquote should phrases that I hear because should comes in all shapes and sizes, right?
But here's some popular ones:
I feel sad and angry I should just be grateful to be alive. Well, I didn't have to go through chemo so I shouldn't complain about how I feel. I was lucky they caught it early, so I shouldn't be worried.
Now I could go on and on. I could do a whole podcast on the list of should and shouldn't that I hear that I've used myself throughout my life that are just common to the way we judge ourselves and beat ourselves up the way we shame ourselves.
When you say things like this, like these should and shouldn't statements, what you're really doing is dismissing your feelings, you're minimizing them, you shame yourself, for having the feelings you're having. And in doing so that stops you from allowing yourself the time and the space to process those feelings. And to release that energy that's pent up inside of you and causing you to suffer.
Even things as simple as I should exercise more. When you say that, it's like saying, okay, I acknowledge that the correct lifestyle habit to have is more exercise, I slapped myself on the wrist, because I'm not doing it, you know, I acknowledged my shame for not doing what I could be doing. And then you move on.
And 99.9% of the time you move on not going to the gym, right?
So using this word should not only makes you feel bad, but it actually stunts your development. It's a distraction. It's like a red herring is this distraction from the real problem. But it allows you to glaze over it and move on. Right? Because you acknowledged it, you said I should. And now we can move on.
So here's what I would like to suggest as a little exercise to work on the "should's" and "shouldn'ts" in your life.
What if when you hear yourself say I should? Or I shouldn't? Instead, you ask yourself, why do I? or Why don't I?
Let me give you some examples.
I shouldn't be worried, becomes Why do I feel worried? What's going on with that?
I shouldn't complain, becomes Why do I feel the need to complain right now? What do I need right now, at this moment in time?
I should be grateful, becomes Why don't I feel grateful?
And here's the kicker... I think the answer most likely for that question is going to be Oh, I actually do feel grateful. But I'm also sad and angry.
I should eat better or exercise more becomes Why don't I eat better? Why don't I exercise more?
And there's no shame in that because it's just curiosity. And it opens up this whole window to be able to look at what's really going on with you, instead of giving yourself a slap on the wrist and moving on.
But I'd be willing to bet when you preface I should statement or you change an I should statement into a Why do I or why don't I statement, you're immediately going to feel some resistance come up. And your brain will start offering all kinds of excuses on why you quote-unquote, shouldn't go there. As a reminder, there's that shame, right? I don't want to think about it. Because then I'll feel ashamed of not doing the things I could, that I've been told are the best things for me. So I don't even want to go there resistance will come up. And I think one of the big reasons for that is that there's this idea that we're just supposed to be happy all the time.
You know, so in this past month, I think I talked about it a couple of shows ago, and this past month in my Empower Membership, we did a lot of work on buffering, and buffering, in case you didn't hear the other episode is avoiding something that makes you feel bad by turning to something that temporarily makes you feel good. Right?
And so when you change a, I shouldn't or I should statement to a Why am I or why am I not? Then that can bring up all kinds of stuff that doesn't feel good, that has shame attached to it. And then we're like, oh, I do not even want to look at that. And the fundamental thought behind that can be on supposed to be happy. But what if part of the misery that we go through the suffering that we go through is caused by the thought that we're obligated to be happy?
Think about that. How many times have you made yourself feel bad? Because you say I should feel happy? I should feel grateful. I shouldn't feel the way I do. But what if part of life is just feeling bad? And you could say, here it comes, here it comes I'm in sadness now. Let me see what's going on here. What's beneath the sadness that I can learn about myself, and learn about what I'm thinking about life right now?
You know, we're so conditioned to be quote-unquote, "good little girls", right? That we believe that it's a rule of life to have a smile on your face. Right?
How many times in your life Have you heard things like, "you're so much prettier when you smile?"
And we even have a tendency to kind of tell ourselves, you know, I'm not being a good mom or a good person or a grateful person if I'm not always happy. And so here's the ironic thing. The key to more happiness in your life is to stop fighting your negative emotions and telling yourself you should always be happy. Right?
It's kind of like that old Dixie Chicks songs. Mister heartache or Hello, Mr. Heartache. I think it is where it's like Hello, Mr. heartache I've been expecting you. Right? What if we just knew that negative emotions were a part of life.
And we expected that sometimes we would feel fear, and we would feel sadness. And that, in fact, that would be a natural reaction to getting a diagnosis of cancer. What have you allowed yourself to be frustrated with feeling exhausted, and you stayed there, and you uncovered the expectation behind that frustration?
And then you could adjust to that expectation. And then you could say, Okay, now that I think of this a little differently, I don't have to be so frustrated, I now know when I'm going to be exhausted. And I expect that, and I know how to process it. So that way, you allow yourself to experience the emotions, the thoughts behind them, and then you get to start feeling better.
So I'll give you an example, something this happened just recently in my own life. So last week, we had a great time, had this bucket list moment where myself, my whole family, we rented this iconic historical landmark, that's called the water tower house. And it's across the street from where I live. But I've seen this place since I was a kid. And I always wanted to go inside the water tower house.
Well, we did last week, it was amazing.
We had a great experience. But something I did not realize about the water tower house was that there a lot of downstairs in the water tower house. And I mean, a lot of stairs.
Now, I am healing from cancer in my spine, and in my hip. And walking up and downstairs is something I discovered, thank you water tower house doesn't work for me. It is exhausting. And it creates inflammation apparently in my hip, and it causes me to feel pain.
So I could be really frustrated by that. And I could say to myself, dang it, I took care of myself all that my life. So I shouldn't have to go through this ever. But that doesn't change the fact that I am going through it. Right?
So I could look at that I could say to myself, okay, Note to self, going up and down 12 flights of stairs multiple times in one day is not a good idea. And that way I acknowledge the frustration, but I also look at the thought behind it. You know, the thought behind it is I don't deserve this. But deserving. It has nothing to do with the fact that it's happening. And so I can look at that. And I can process that and look at the thought behind it. When we can change that statement of I should be able to do this, too. What can I do now, then is a little bit different feeling right?
And it's not so hard on yourself.
And I think that's something really important no matter what we're doing in life, whether it's recovering from breast cancer, whether it's working on a relationship, whether it's starting a new project, working towards any goal in life, if we expect things to be challenging if we know things are going to come up, and I don't mean all Eeyoreish like Oh god, this is gonna be miserable...
I don't mean that at all. I mean it from the sense of having an awareness. All right, life doesn't usually flow without any glitches, there are things that are going to come up. And when you try something new, or when you have to recover from something new, it's going to take energy, and it's going to take focus. And typically there's going to be setbacks. But if we tell ourselves first of all, this is a part of life. And life isn't always happy. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a place that we can grow from.
Now, this is a lesson that I've learned. And honestly, it's a lesson that surprised me and took a while to actually sink in. But from coaching other survivors dealing with my own diagnosis and living with cancer, I have discovered that there's a certain peace that comes with accepting the discomforts of life. If you can be okay with the fact that things you won't like will happen, and then you'll figure them out and you'll move through him. There's a freedom in that. You know, you're not attached to the circumstances in life, when you can think like that.
And it's a beautiful thing to get to a place where when fear of a recurrence comes up, or a fear of life-ending pops up, you can say to yourself, yeah, yeah, that is a real thing. And it could happen. And that's all the more reason for me to live fully today.
So the happiness is in letting go of the fight. Do you see that? It's and if I fight the fear I suffer, if I tell myself, I shouldn't think like that, I shouldn't feel like that, and I stuff the negative energy, then I don't train my mind to think differently about fear. When the fear comes up, if I ask myself, how is this fear serving me right now? Why am I feeling this, and I get curious, then I have something I can work with, I can look at the thoughts behind the fear. And for me, some of those thoughts that come up are things like missing special events in life, not accomplishing some of the goals, or seeing some of the things that I wanted to see in life. And when I can look at that and realize that the fear is based on me missing something, then I can start taking action toward making that thing happen in my life, because I'm here as long as I'm here.
And I know that I should be feeling that because I am feeling it. In if I am feeling it, then there's something there. There's an opportunity for me to learn something about myself in that moment, right?
We never learn or grow from the comfort zone, never.
It's in moving forward-facing challenges, facing fears, and going through discomfort, that life actually becomes better. But when we're using should, I should, I shouldn't, then we're stopping ourselves. We're staying in that comfort zone. And we're stunting our growth because we're not getting curious about why we're stuck.
So for this week, I will leave you with this little exercise, creating more awareness when you use the words I should or I shouldn't. And changing them, even if it's in your own mind only and just going Hmmm, why do I? or Why don't I?
And I would love to hear what you come up with. I know I say that on the podcast. And sometimes I get messages in DM's and emails about what women discovered when they did these exercises they hear on the podcast, but I really want to hear it. So come and find me on Facebook, Laura Lummer, come and join our free Facebook group, the breast cancer recovery group. And let me know what did you discover when you ask yourself why do I or why don't I?
Even better yet, the creme de la creme join me in the revived membership experience where when you discover these things, I can actually help you out and you can get coaching and ask questions because I would love to work with you.
So check that out at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived and I will talk to you again next week and until then please be good to yourself and expect other people to be good to you as well.