A few years ago I read a couple of self-help books. At the time, I was thinking negatively. I realised that my thoughts were restricting what I thought I could do and what I thought I should do. This was making me unhappy and when you think about the word ‘should’, it usually comes with a big dose of negative.
I didn’t know how to stop my negative thinking, so I searched on the internet about changing thought patterns. It was cognitive behaviour therapy that popped up first and I bought a book about it. What really stood out was a chapter on the word ‘should’ and to this day I remind myself of the dangers of this word. I even wrote a poem and called it The Exhausting Perils of Should.
Here is my poem.
If you think about it, when has the word ‘should’ ever served you? ‘Should’ is what you think you should be, ‘should’ is what you think others think you should be, ‘should’ is the what you think you should of said, ‘should’ is the things you think you should of done and ‘should’ is the thing that you think you should be doing. Exhausting, right?
The self-help book highlighted that instead of ‘should’ put ‘would like’ in its place. By doing this, you are more likely to see if it is something you actually want. Or is it something you think you should want. At the time, I had a thought that I should be married. When I switched ‘should’ with ‘would like’, I realised that it actually wasn’t that important. My relationship was good enough as it was, and I realised what joy it gave me. The realisation made me happier.
The moral of this post? Don’t let the ‘shoulds’ get you down!
A.J. York is a middle grade and children's writer. Author of Delilah Dusticle, Eliza Bluebell and A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story. A.J York has a Swedish and British background and currently lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.