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  • Alyssa Abrahamson

Stop "Shoulding" Yourself

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

How often do you “should” yourself with, I should eat healthier, I should do yoga, I should be more grateful, or I should be more productive.

When you “should” yourself you are telling yourself that you have an obligation to do something different from what you are actually doing.

The problem with “shoulding” yourself is that you’re effectively telling yourself you aren’t good enough, setting in motion unrealistic expectations that can take a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Unfortunately, our society has made it acceptable to think we need to be hard on ourselves, that we need to “should” ourselves into action and change. This can lead to feelings of guilt, incompetence, shame, insecurity, failure, and lack of self-control and self-trust.

These feelings breed inaction and keep us stuck. Plus, the more you feel like you “should” do something, the less likely you’ll actually do it. Right?

So if this pattern fits you, it’s time to break the cycle.

Here are 3 ways to stop shoulding yourself:

1. Become more self aware

This first step is becoming aware of your thoughts and self-talk. Observe, without judgment, how often you are shoulding yourself. Get curious about the origins of this impulse. Each time you catch this happening, ask yourself questions like: Why should I? Who says I should? Do I really want to do this?

2. Change your words

We use the word “should” so frequently that it takes the place of more accurate and powerful phrases like: I want, I can, I will, and I choose. Swapping words can help you feel empowered and more in control of your life. “I choose to do the dishes,” feels a heck of a lot better and more motivating than, “I should do the dishes.” When you shift your inner dialogue it helps relieve unnecessary pressure, stress, and guilt.

3. Get specific & make a plan

Often when we should ourselves it’s something we want to do, like exercise or eating healthier, but we keep our “should” so vague it’s difficult to actually follow through.However, when you create a specific plan of action, it’s easier to be proactive, create change, and avoid shame or guilt. So if your goal is to eat healthier, get specific – instead of “I should eat healthier” – change your words and make a plan. “I want to feel better so I will eat greens at least 3 times this week.”

Remember: progress over perfection.

Giving yourself clarity and realistic achievable goals creates momentum and builds self-trust and self-confidence.

When you stop shoulding yourself it opens up opportunities for more self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-love.

If this resonates, let’s talk.

I want to hear about your health concerns and share how I can help you build your self-trust and help you on your personal holistic health journey.

Love, Your Wellness Coach,


P.S. For more, tune into odcast episode 95, "Stop 'Shoulding' Yourself."

October 19, 2022


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