A word you SHOULD delete from your dictionary

Before you go ahead with the article, here is something I ask you to do. Read the title of the post again, take a pause, and think of that word that was most impactful among them all? Maybe re-read the title, and think thrice. Or more.

Let me guess. It has to be ‘SHOULD’.

Let’s go back to the history of this word. This word was added to the dictionary to motivate us, to give us a sense of urgency so that we could categorize and prioritize. So that we could make the right choice when it came to decision making.

However, here is what it did! It did exactly the opposite of what it was expected to do. Words color our behavior. And the word did color our behavior by putting us in a state of urgency, by making us feel pressured, and resentful.

Don’t believe me! Look for yourself.

I say this to myself every morning, ‘I should have gotten up early.’

Every time I miss my exercise (which happens rarely), I say, ‘I should be regular’.

When my husband does something I don’t approve of, ‘You should not have behaved this way.’

When my manager thinks that I have not done the work as per his level of perfection he says, ‘This should be done this way.’

Source: Pixabay

Albert Ellis calls this ‘musturbation.’

When this ‘should’ is directed towards me, I criticize myself and get myself into self-loathing behavior while when it is directed towards the other person, it makes me feel frustrated.

‘Why didn’t you do it the way I wanted?’

‘Should’ statements generate a lot of emotional turmoil in our bodies. And how I wish it could have ended here. But it goes way further. These are the aftereffects of using this word frequently.

  1. Labeling and Mislabeling: ‘I am such a waste. I can’t follow a routine.’ Do you do this too? I do it every time I miss getting up in the morning. I hate myself and the self-critical mode remains on throughout the day.
  2. Jumping to the conclusion: ‘He always does this to me. When will he learn to be nice’.Once I have an expectation from someone (and that someone can be myself too) and is not taken care of, my mind just loves to jump to the conclusion. I mean you should really listen to me once I argue with my family members.
  3. Magnification: ‘Oh my God! This person is so terrible! I can’t stand him.’ Even if the ‘should’ word came up in a normal situation, once I get into the thinking trap, it loves to magnify and minimize the events. I tend to magnify my end of stories and minimize the other’s end efforts.
  4. Generalization: ‘I think I am bound to suffer. My luck never supports me.’ I always had this belief that my luck never supported me. I now see how I had the habit of generalizing everything once I disappointed myself. ‘You should have got this job, Ankita. But you did not. I see how unlucky you are!!’

Parting thoughts

There are already a lot of unsaid expectations by the world on us. Expectation to be a good child, parent, worker, sibling, a society member, etc. Among all this, our ‘inner-self’ is overburdened by our critical approach.

Emotional pain is all that we do to ourselves because we love to follow the ‘Should’ approach to life. Such statements cause a lot of emotional turbulence in our daily lives!

They make us frustrated, angry, resentful, and overdramatic.

All that it brings is ‘not-so-good-feeling’. A feeling of uneasiness. A feeling we don’t like to experience but don’t know a way through it.

Maybe it does not involve taking big steps, but a baby step of removing a small word from our dictionary.

Now that we know what that word is!



I am a terminal Cancer Survivor and I provide free consultation to Cancer patients. Send me a message on Quora https://www.quora.com/profile/Ankita-Sinha-517

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I am a terminal Cancer Survivor and I provide free consultation to Cancer patients. Send me a message on Quora https://www.quora.com/profile/Ankita-Sinha-517