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It’s a word we all love to use but hate to hear. It’s loaded with pointed fingers and feelings of instant guilt. Occasionally, it could be used for positive motivation, but mostly negative. Merriam Webster adds new words to the dictionary frequently. They should delete this one. Please? The word is SHOULD. Regardless of the tense in which it’s used, none of them make me feel particularly happy with myself.
Should. It’s like a loaded baked potato. Something about tasting it makes us feel powerful and satisfied, but after digesting, the contents were really just empty, worthless fillers that make us look and feel bad.
Used in past tense, either I should have done something or I shouldn’t have done something. Just put on the punching gloves and beat myself to a pulp. Way to drum up guilt and bad mojo, Bobbe.
Used in future tense, should heaps big apprehension on a person: you should, I should, we should do something. Guilting someone else or ourselves into doing something is rarely productive.
Many times I’ve said or heard, “We should go do this!” And you said, with a devilish twinkle in your eye, “You’re right! WE SHOULD!” trouble often results with us saying, “We really shouldn’t have done that, should we have?”
Today I should go workout, walk the dog, visit my parents, clean the house, fold the laundry, pack for vacation, finish my project, finalize the August staffing schedule, de-clutter my parents’ home and, oh yes, I should read as much as I can. After all, it’s the week-end, right? I should do a lot of things, but that word makes me feel amazingly defeated. Nice work, Bob. Loretta Laroche, well-known motivational speaker, calls this, “Shoulding all over yourself.” (Wish I’d thought of that one!) What’s worse than shoulding all over yourself? When someone else shoulds on me. I want to poke them in the eyes with my index fingers and say, “You shouldn’t tell me what to do, because I’m going to do the exact opposite of what you say I should do!” Oh yeah, that’s a positive approach. Awesome. Do we really think telling our kids they should or shouldn’t do something is going to work? “You should clean up your room/study/lose weight/smile more/cut your hair/go to church/stay home with us/invite Mary Francine to your party.” Don’t make me laugh. None of that is happening. Huh-uh.
We should all put a red flag on should mentally, so when tempted to should on ourselves or someone else, we stop and rephrase. Unless it’s used like this: “I should/you should treat myself/yourself to ________________(Starbucks, Dairy Queen, pedicure) today.” In which case, “Yes, I should! And you should too!” Otherwise, should is just a dumb word. bw