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Stop “Shoulding” On Yourself

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “Stop shoulding on yourself”. It’s a kind of humorous play on words that gets the occasional chuckle. But do you really understand what it means?

Let’s break it down a bit. “Stop” is the first word in this phrase. It’s not “cut down on” or “think about quitting”, but “stop”. It’s an absolute. “Don’t do it anymore. Ever.” “Stop” is an action. That means you have to act – even if that action means quitting.

“Shoulding”: ok it’s not a real word. But it’s the meat of this phrase and it needs attention. The typical form we usually see is “should”. “Should” is defined as a verb “used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions”. The addition of “-ing” at the end shifts the meaning slightly but powerfully. “-Ing” transforms this word into a verb you actively do. So “shoulding” becomes a strange collaboration of passive and active rolled into one word. It’s almost like a push and pull where no real action is taken because it is fighting within itself.

The next word is small but mighty: “on”. It indicates a specific direction. “On” also implies a closeness and connectedness – perhaps even too close or connected at times. Imagine if you were to put the cactus “on” the cat rather than “near” the cat. Yikes! I wouldn’t want to be at the receiving end of that interaction!

Finally, we have “yourself”. This word is a combination of “your” and “self” to express an emphasis that it is directed towards YOU. Additionally, when using “yourself” in a phrase or sentence, the speaker insinuates a solitary meaning. No one else necessarily needs involvement in the action.

Now that we’ve broken it all down, we can really understand the meaning. This phrase is action-packed with the only “actor” being you. This means the only one responsible for your actions is YOU. Furthermore, when the action you are partaking in causes an internal battle that ultimately leads to inaction, the only one who can stop it is you.

So it doesn’t matter what you are “shoulding”, but it does matter that you cease and desist for your own well-being and decision-making. Inaction usually does little to no good in the long-term. It typically leads to dissatisfaction, frustration, and could even contribute to unhealthy relationship patterns.

You may be asking, “what can I do to get out of this rut of ‘shoulding’?” The easy answer is take action! Make a decision. Do something different than what you’re currently doing. However, this is often easier said than done. Inaction (like many other things) is a pattern, and often an unhealthy one. Breaking patterns can be tricky. The best thing you can do is take it one day or even one moment at a time. Start by just noticing when you begin falling into the “shoulding” pattern and counteract it when you notice it. The more you practice, the better you’ll become. Your brain’s natural “shoulding” pattern will begin to disappear because you are replacing it with a “doing” pattern instead.

If you find yourself struggling with inaction or catch yourself thinking you should being doing something differently but you’re having a difficult time implementing the change you want, please call me at 720-381-2755 or email me at tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com. We can set up our first appointment today and start working on an action plan that you can apply immediately.

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