Thursday, July 22, 2010

letting go of the should list

One of the books I am currently reading is Louise L. Hay's You Can Heal Your Life. I just did an exercise from her book that I found very beneficial. And, I was actually a little surprised with my answers. I'd like to share the exercise with you--but I'd ask that you actually DO it. (You will just need a pen and piece of paper).

"Exercise: I Should

The next thing I do is give them a pad and pen and ask them to write on the top of a piece of paper:


They are to make a list of five or six ways to finish that sentence."

(Actually do this-then read on!)

"...I then ask them to read the list to me one at a time, beginning each sentence with 'I Should...' As they read each one, I ask, "Why?"

(Actually do this---answering the why question-then read on.)

"The answers that come out are interesting and revealing, such as:

My mother said I should.
Because I am afraid not to.
Because I have to be perfect.
Well, everybody has to do that.
Because I am too lazy, too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, too dumb, too ugly, too worthless.

These answers show me where they are stuck in their beliefs and what they think their limitations are.

I make no comments on their answers. When they are through with their list, I talk about the word SHOULD.

You see, I believe that should is one of the most damaging words in our language. Every time we use the word should, we are in effect saying 'wrong.' Either we are wrong or we were wrong or we are going to be wrong. I don't think we need more wrongs in our life. We need to have more freedom of choice. I would like to take the word should and remove if rom the vocabulary forever. I'd replace it with the word could. Could gives us choice, and we are never wrong.

I ask them to reread the list one item at a time, except this time to begin each sentence by saying, 'If I really wanted to, I could ____________." This puts a whole new light on the subject.

As they do this, I ask them gently, 'Why haven't you?'

(Do this-then read on.)

"Now we hear different answers:

I don't want to.
I am afraid.
I don't know how.
Because I am not good enough.
And so on.

We often find they have been berating themselves for years for something they never wanted to do in the first place. Or they have been criticizing themselves for not doing something when it was never their idea to begin with. Often it was just something someone esle said the 'should' do. When they can see that, they can just drop it from the 'should list.' What a relief that is."

Hopefully, you can join me and let go of your "should list." It doesn't serve you, or anyone else for that matter, well. If you really wanted to, you could drop it. It's your choice. Goodbye should.



Rachel @ SuburbanYogini said...

The word should is banned in this house. You either do or you don't. It doesn't always work but it's interesting to watch how often you say it!

LizF said...

I've done this exercise before, and there are lots of good ones in this book. I catch myself more these days when I get a case of the "shoulds". Thanks for sharing this!

Kelsey said...

Wow. powerful. I don't think I like the reasons "why" I "should" do things. Makes me sad. I will do this with my students in the Fall. Thanks for sharing Leslie.