I should be thinner. I should do more housework. I should mow my lawn more often. I should stick up for myself more. I should wash all toxic people right out of my hair. I should not let people get to me. I should keep my opinions to myself. I should train my dog, wash my car, learn to wear makeup, toughen up, be more girly, shut up and take it, and for God’s sake, stop asking so many questions.
At some point in my life, all of these things have been said to me, quite often more than once. And then a funny thing happens. I start saying all those things to myself. I am great at beating myself up. That should be the first item on my resume.
I’m just curious about that foggy transition period. How do external criticisms become internalized? It’s as if they get injected into your very soul, and somehow you don’t even feel the puncture.
I think “should” is the most toxic word in the English language. It implies that what you’re doing isn’t good enough. It says you have good reason to be stressed out and depressed. It adds a whole host of unwritten items to your to-do list, thus insuring that you’ll never have a genuine feeling of accomplishment. It’s a judgment, and you’ll never be found innocent.
I think the only thing we should do in this world is stop saying should.
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