Mental Help Net
Wellness and Personal Development
Basic InformationLatest NewsBlog EntriesVideosLinksBook Reviews
Therapist Search
Find a Therapist:
 (USA/CAN only)

Use our Advanced Search to locate a therapist outside of North America.

Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management
Weight Loss
Emotional Resilience

Melanie RudnickMelanie Rudnick
Simple suggestions on how to love your life today...

Stop "Shoulding" All Over Yourself and Others-Everything in Life is a Choice

Melanie Rudnick Updated: Feb 25th 2014

"I should eat healthier." "I should work harder." "I should be doing more." "I should be a better parent/spouse/friend." "I should exercise." "I should be able to get this." Have you ever told yourself any of these things or something similar? I sure have. Actually, the only thing you "should" do, is stop "shoulding" all over yourself! Telling yourself you "should" or "have to" do anything will just make you feel crappy.

hand holding stop signHow does it make you feel when you think you "should" do something? This little word that most people throw around so freely and regularly, causes a whole lot of pain in our lives. "I have to" is equally, an automatic good mood killer. Think of something you "should" or "have to" do. When you think that thought, how does it make you feel? My guess is, not very good. The thing most people don't even realize is that YOU DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO ANYTHING!

A couple of months ago my 1 1/2 year old spilled milk in the backseat of my husband's car, while I was driving it. Now, if anyone reading this has ever spilled milk on something and let it sit overnight, they would understand that by the next day, it literally smelled like something had died in there. I was so cranky about it because I kept telling myself, "I have to take it to the dealership to get it cleaned." This thought lead to other thoughts about how I didn't have the time to deal with this, and how I didn't want to do it, and what if the smell didn't come out (all painful thoughts). My mood increasingly got worse until it dawned on me that I didn't actually HAVE to take the car to get cleaned. I actually WANTED to do it because I didn't want my husband to have to deal with it, and I was CHOOSING to be kind, and take the burden off of my hubby because he already takes care of so many things for us. This thought made me feel sooooo much better, and I was able to go get the car cleaned with little resistance, and the experience was no big deal.

By just changing the words "have to" to "want to", or "choose to", there is a tremendous amount of relief. If you really didn't want to do something, you wouldn't…simple as that. No one is forcing you to do the things you do, except you. Sure, you could argue, that you "have to" go to work every day because if you don't you will lose your job. The truth is, you are choosing to go to work every day so you don't lose your job. Try it…."I should go to the gym today", or "I want to go to the gym today." "I have to have lunch with my mother-in-law", or "I am choosing to have lunch with my mother-in-law." It is always a choice. No one is holding a gun to your head, and even if they were, it would still be up to you to decide what to do!

Another area where that pesky word, "should" gets us in trouble, is when we think other people "should" be/say/act a certain way. Who are we to know what anyone else should do?! It's actually none of our business how anyone else lives his or her life, just like it is no one else's place to tell you how you should live your life. For our moods to be so dependent on other people's behaviors is borderline insane when ya think about it! The only person you have control of is you, so to have expectations of others to be a specific way in order for you to feel good, is giving all of your power away. It's up to you to decide how you want to think about how other people live, and if it bothers you, it has everything to do with you, and not them. No one "should" behave any way other than they way they do. When you think otherwise, you are not only arguing with reality, but you are setting yourself up to be unhappy, and why would you choose to make yourself unhappy?!

Take one day to try and notice how many times you say "should" or "have to". When it pertains to yourself, try and replace it with "I want to", or "I choose to", and notice how it feels. When it comes to someone else, remind yourself that he or she "should" be exactly as they are, because that is exactly who they are. If that is upsetting to you, then take a deeper look at you, and what you are making other people's behavior mean. Once we stop "shoulding" on ourselves and others, there will be more space for loving, and how much better does that feel?!


Melanie Rudnick

Melanie Rudnick is a Certified Life Coach and Weight Loss Coach. She works with healthy people who want to live more fulfilling and happier lives. Melanie works with people who want to better themselves, know themselves, and who have the desire to be the best that they can be. She helps her clients and followers discover what has been holding them back in different areas of their lives, and give them tools to help get unstuck, move forward, and live the life they desire and deserve. Melanie strives to help individuals gain consciousness and teaches them that there is so much more to life!! To learn more about Melanie and her coaching services, visit her at, or email her at

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Follow us on Twitter!

Find us on Facebook!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Powered by CenterSite.Net