Coulda, Shoulda…Enough of It!


That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change,  but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.  – Chinese Proverb

Today I’m sharing a post from Daylle Deanna Schwartz’s blog: Lessons from a Recovering Doormat. She talks about “Could vs. Should”  and highlights the importance of changing just a few letters in that word.

Daylle makes some nice distinctions between the viewpoints when we use those two different words:

I should…” sets us up with expectations, duties, perfectionism, and guilt when we don’t meet all those self-imposed goals. (And look out for Should’s cousin “I’d Better“! Semantics. Same idea.)

I could…” sets us up with choices. We may still decide to do the thing we thought we “should” do, but it feels better, doesn’t it?  Remember when you were little and kids would say, “I’ll do it because I want to but not because you tell me to!”  Usually said in a snotty tone, but look at the message: self-empowerment!

We are always making choices! I’m about to quote you some Rush here (?!?) “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Thanks, Geddy Lee! And you thought all he sang about was the Great White North…

Anyhow, the happy smiley sunshine is here to remind us that when we take responsibility for our choices, we feel a little bit more free. And when we feel a little bit more free, we feel happier.  Of course, you know that the entire purpose of your life is not to feel happy 100% of the time, but it never hurts to up our Happiness Quotient on any given day.

The Chinese proverb I picked as a reminder that when we say “could” instead of “should”, we let worry fly on by rather than sticking with us unnecessarily.  We turn the volume down on that non-stop chatterbox in our heads, telling us all the things we SHOULD be doing, and all the ways we’ve failed everyone we’ve ever known, in ways large and small. What, your chatterbox doesn’t say that? Uhh….heh heh. Yeah, neither does mine…

“Should” isn’t necessarily a horrible word.  Many times, it connects us with our values, which is a good thing. But sometimes, we say it when we are beating ourselves up, or holding ourselves to some standard that might not even be what we, in our heart of hearts, want for ourselves.  So don’t think you must banish the word from your vocabulary; that’s just setting you up for more perfectionism and striving. But let’s be mindful of the phrases we tell ourselves and others.

I could get back to work now, since I’ve taken a lovely short break. And so I will. Because I want to!


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