3rd February 2019

Its hard not to use the word ‘should’!


I thought I would write this blog after a seven day challenge that I recently completed.  I started wondering about the word ‘should’

As a counsellor it is drummed into us that this is a negative word and yet I still found myself using it.

The background to this is that there was a seven day challenge on Instagram. Over the seven days different authors would publish a challenge and anyone taking part was invited to post that they had completed the challenge for that day and what they had experienced during or after completing the challenge. The idea being that these would all be things we could carry through into 2019.

At the end of the seven days the organisers would pick one winner who had consistently engaged with all the challenges. This was to ensure that people actively engaged as opposed to reading the posts and not engaging or simply ignoring one or two days out of the seven.

I decided from the beginning that I would try to look at each post and take action but I knew that what they were looking for were people who were not only stating what they had achieved but actively encouraging others. This may sound selfish, but I just wanted to complete the tasks to add to my own toolkit not to actively encourage others. So, basically, I did not set out to win a prize as I knew that I would not add more than one post per day.

I wrote down my intentions for the challenge

‘To take part in daily challenges for seven days with the aim that it will embed either new practices or remind me of older practices that I can continue into 2019’.

That was it, very straightforward and easy to achieve.

After two or three days of reading the posts, taking part in the challenge and responding, I noticed two or three names consistently appearing numerous times in each feed, encouraging others, making conversation and generally being seen.

My first thoughts were

1, this person wants to win

2 they are looking at getting their page noticed and potential followers

And then the big one– I should be doing that!!!! I should be engaging more! I should be encouraging other people! I should be getting noticed!

I immediately had to give myself a shake. Where did that come from?

What an easy trap to fall into. I was immediately comparing myself to other people, who had entirely different agendas to me, and finding myself lacking.

How many times do we do this? We are happy poodling along and then suddenly we see someone else doing something different and we change direction or we lose motivation because something in our head tells us that we ‘should’ be doing the same as them, or if we did what they were doing we would achieve more.

 We are all guilty of the ‘should be’ disease and it needs constant monitoring, even for those of us who fully understand its impact. How many times do you think the following about yourself? I should have more money, a better job, a better car, house etc, etc, and what feeling does it emit? It will probably be one of failure, of not being good enough. It never leaves any of us feeling positive about ourselves does it?

Luckily I had written down my intentions for the challenge so I could easily look at them and carry on doing my own thing but how many times have I not written down my intentions and taken a detour because I ‘should‘ be doing something? This is where writing our intentions down helps us to focus so that we can stay on track, and I would always recommend it to anyone. Daily journaling helps us to remain focussed and stay on our own path.

So next time you have a thought that has ‘should’ or ‘ought to’ or anything where you start to negatively compare yourself, take a step back, think about what your path is and how individual it is to you and refocus, and then merrily keep on trotting down your own path, leaving the other person to walk down theirs.