Don’t Should On Yourself

Don’t Should On Yourself January 3, 2023

To-Do #1: Stop before you start beating yourself up

You promised your spouse that you would clean your kitchen mess before they arrived home with their new boss in tow. But you got engrossed in your own work project and totally forgot. So things are a mess and your spouse is embarrassed – and so are you. What do you do next?

The temptation is to “should” on yourself – to beat yourself up. (“I can’t believe I did that to my spouse. I should have started cleaning up right away instead of procrastinating. I should have not made the mess in the first place…”) Even though your inner “should” statements may in fact be true, beating yourself up won’t actually change things, except to make them worse.

Why worse? Because “shoulds” lead to shame, shame leads to defensiveness, and defensiveness prevents learning and actively protects bad behavior.

So catch yourself when the “shoulds” start, and instead do the one thing (To-Do #2) that will interrupt that damaging cycle – and allow you to start a positive one instead.

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