If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I really should <insert something like ‘track my protein intake’> this week,” I’d be able to finally buy myself a goat farm.
Show of hands: How many of you have feel frustrated by what feels like self-sabotage in some of the biggest places you’re trying to change? (You can’t see me, but both my hands are up.)
Follow Up: How many of you are SHOULDING all over yourselves?
I looked up the word SHOULD last week, frustrated because I couldn’t break down the etymology, and found out that it’s not actually a word in our current use of the English language. (NERD SIDEBAR: “I SHOULD” is the future perfect tense of “I SHALL.” We use “I WILL” because “I shall go to the bathroom after this blog post is complete!” makes one sound more uptight than one already is.)
All that means is: When you say “I SHOULD,” your brain is actually saying “I WOULD, BUT ….”
(Other versions of this that are a little sneakier but tend to hide under good intentions include: “I could…” or “I need to…”)This is important because
- There’s a part of your brain that thinks – because you’ve stated an intention – you’ve already started the task or achieved the target. (“Hooray!!” it says. “You said you were gonna count your protein grams — you must be so energized from the increase in nutrient density!”)
- You’ve implied an unspoken – probably unknown – excuse not to follow through. (“I WOULD ask for accountability BUT that means I might feel ashamed if I screw up.)
The end result is: you actually think you’ve started and failed, and start to operate based on a belief around failure. And you haven’t failed! You just used the wrong word.
Drop me a comment / talk to each other! How has “SHOULD” contributed to self-sabotage in your life?
Next week: The RIGHT words.