When talking to yourself, it’s easy to go down the ‘should’ route.
“I should call my brother.”
“I should tidy the room.”
“I should go for a run.”
You probably realise how negative this is, how it takes the joy out of doing things, and punishes you if you procrastinate. The best advice is to rephrase the directive using ‘could‘. Replace every ‘should‘ with ‘could‘ and you give yourself more options, making it a positive statement.
I have another idea to share with you, beyond the above standard advice.
If you ever find yourself thinking, or saying “You should” to a colleague or loved one, reflect on what you could do instead.
What I mean is, often we think ‘you should do x and y’ even if we then phrase it out loud in more friendly terms. I suggest that as the thought arises, you might turn it upon yourself.
Instead of telling the other person what they should or could do, think about what you could do.
The thought ‘you should bring coffee to our next meeting‘ might turn into ‘I could bring coffee to our next meeting‘.
The wish ‘you should arrange more days out for us‘ might turn into ‘I could arrange more days out for us’.
This isn’t about taking on other people’s responsibilities or tasks, it’s about reflecting on that first thought you have when you want someone to act or change. Are you directing them or asking them for their benefit or for your own?
Don’t let this reflection disempower others (oftenthey need to get things done themselves) and don’t let this reflection rob you of your time and energy (it’s not for you to do everything). Use this reflection, from ‘you should‘ to ‘I could‘, just to test whether the task in hand is really for you to manage.
We can’t change other people, we can change ourselves.
Image credit: shashchatter
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