Letting Go of ‘Should’

by: Abby Resek

            Everyone has, at some point, found themselves grasping for the right word to express some thought or feeling. Sometimes the right word is tucked in the back of our mind, squirreled away in some corner that we know is there but we just can’t reach. In those cases, it comes to us eventually. But sometimes, the word you’re looking for might just not exist.

            Every language is different – there is no English translation for schadenfreude, but we’ve probably all experienced that feeling at least once. This could be considered a gap in English, or maybe it’s not a word we really need. We can still feel it, whether or not we have the word to describe it.

            Recently, the word I’ve been thinking about most is ‘should’. Believe it or not, the word ‘should’ does not exist in every language. People go their entire lives without ever saying ‘should’, and if it was something we really needed to communicate, it would have appeared in every language by now. But it hasn’t.

            When do we use ‘should’? Often, it’s to ourselves. Earlier today, I opened the refrigerator door and thought to myself, I should go grocery shopping. When my semester ended, I thought, I should really get downtown more often.

            Grocery shopping, taking advantage of a beautiful city – these are all good things, right? I think so too – but ‘should’ can turn against you quickly. In particular, when we’re thinking about our health. For example:

            I should go to the gym. I should eat healthier. I should lose weight. I should be able to lift more. I should be stronger. I should be faster.

            And what’s really lying behind all that?

            I am not enough.

            Here’s the problem: It’s hard to have a complete grasp on your self worth, and still be seeking change and improvement. The concept of going to the gym and being fit and healthy is all tangled in the nasty web of magazines and ‘ideal’ celebrity bodies and body-shaming. And I think that’s where ‘should’ comes from – constantly being told that we need to change because we’re not good enough.

            And being the language nerd I am, I want to use words to take that back.

            So, what if we take out ‘should? If I forced you to say those same sentences without ‘should’, what would you find yourself saying instead?

            Here’s what happened when I tried:

            I want to go to the gym. I want to learn how to eat healthier. I want to be able to lift more, I want to be stronger, I want to be faster. I will work for these things, and I will do it for me.

            I want everyone that comes to our gym to feel like they have worth. Just because we are seeking a change does not mean we are not worthy as we are.

            What if instead of thinking I should change, we think I deserve to change.

            I deserve to change. I deserve to grow. I deserve to become stronger and faster and more confident.

            ‘Should’ encourages us to wallow, not to take control. Next time you find yourself thinking, I should… Just stop for a moment. Dig deeper. What are you really trying to say? What are you actually telling yourself?

            I think ‘should’ can often bury what we’re really thinking or feeling. Taking ownership of how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking is empowering. Your drive to change belongs to nobody but you.

            You are enough. You deserve to grow. There is no ‘should’.

(Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash)


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