Don’t Shoulda’ On Me

If you judge people, you have
no time to love them.
—Mother Teresa

Do you love it when people tell you what you “should have done”? No, we typically hate it! When I was first learning Choice Theory, I had a trainer named Jeanette McDaniel. She is this incredibly sweet powerhouse of a woman with the best Southern drawl. We giggled like crazy when she told us not to “shoulda’ all over everyone.” It is funny to think of it that way, but it is so true. When we shoulda’ all over others, we are implying something negative. Saying, “You should have done this,” is saying, “You were wrong,” and “I know better than you.” Even worse, we often shoulda’ on people before we ask questions or learn enough about the situation to make an informed judgement.

What might happen if we wipe the word “should” from our vocabulary entirely? I have been working to replace “should” with words like “could” or “might,” and it is not easy, but it is possible. Replacing a judgment-filled word like “should” with words that are more open can lead to great discussions rather than defensiveness. Choosing our words carefully is an important part of being compassionate and people centered.

There are many words that we use pretty freely that have big emotional implications, and, believe it or not, “should” is one of those words. People don’t need our judgment; they need our love and support. That does not mean that we never tell others what we think or how we feel. Instead, it means that we only tell others what we think and how we feel if it will help them and if they want that kind of input.

People don’t need our judgment; they need our love and support.

The one person we all shoulda’ on the most is ourselves. From the time we wake up saying, “Oh, I should have gotten more sleep last night,” to the time we go to bed thinking, “I should have done this or that today,” we tend to constantly shoulda’ all over ourselves. It is just as important to wipe the word “should” out of our self-talk because it prohibits growth and keeps us stuck in some harmful patterns of behavior.

The same guidelines that apply to our conversations with others apply to our conversations with ourselves. Surfer Laird Hamilton is credited with saying, “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.” How is it that we are okay with saying things to ourselves that we would never even imagine saying to someone else? The words we tell ourselves have even more power than the words we tell others. The battle is hard, but it is so worth the fight—let’s be our own hero rather than our own enemy. Let’s be our own biggest fans because if we don’t believe in ourselves, how can we expect others to believe in us? Oh my dear friends, believe me when I tell you that I write this for myself just as much as I write it for you.

Let’s be our own hero rather than our own enemy.

One of my morning rituals is listening to inspiring videos, podcasts, songs, or books that will help me prioritize who I need to be to make the most out of the day over what I need to accomplish. Educational leader Lisa Dabbs introduced me to a motivational YouTube video that includes a moving speech about the power of what follows “I am…” by pastor Joel Osteen.

Whatever follows your “I am” will always come looking for you—you’re handing it an invitation, opening the door, and giving it permission to be in your life. The good news is you get to choose what follows “I am.” Go through the day saying, “I am blessed,” and blessings will come looking for you. Declare, “I am talented,” and talent will come looking for you. You may not feel up to par, but when you say it, you’re inviting that into your life. -Pastor Joel Osteen

What are you inviting into your life? What follows your “I am”? I am so grateful? I am so strong? I am more than enough? I am better every day? Let’s all take a moment to think about the amazing people we are, and the even more amazing people we are working to become.

This post is an excerpt from Through the Lens of Serendipity: Helping Others Discover the Best in Themselves (Even if Life has Shown Them Its Worst)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s