Should, Ought, Must


We live in a world of SHOULDs—rules, restrictions, limits, boundaries, and conditions imposed by others—that can make us feel obligated, constrained, and deprived. ‘Shoulds’ come in many variations: ought, must, have to, obligated to, be duty-bound, etc.


The people in your life may be trying to get their own needs met through telling you what you should do or they may be trying to dominate you.


Some shoulds are common sense, like looking both ways before crossing the street, complying with traffic signs, paying your taxes, and brushing your teeth. In spite of this, most shoulds are hurdles that you have to jump over and listening to shoulds endlessly playing in your mind unknowingly fans the flames of resistance.


Examples of sentences that contain the word should that you might be telling yourself:

  • I should save money

  • I should sit down and write my book

  • I should exercise

  • I should eat better

  • I should go to bed earlier

Growing up, there were consequences for not complying with shoulds. Now as an adult, you attempt to self-discipline yourself and use the word ‘should’ to force yourself to do something you really don’t want to do. And all that does is zap you of your energy and leaves you feeling exhausted. Plus, that inner conflict can also lead you to sabotage your own efforts to succeed, especially when it comes to achieving personal goals you’ve set for yourself.


Discovering what you truly want to do versus what you think you should do can help to prevent resistance from surfacing in the first place. You can also consciously choose to use different words as it relates to goal setting and replace the word ‘should’ with words like desire, want, need, to my benefit, to my advantage, and so on. Of course, doing some EFT tapping can help you transform your internal resistance that surfaces.


Whatever route you choose, give yourself permission to remove should-type words from your vocabulary, so you make reaching your goals easier and swifter.

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