You’re stressing yourself out! Here’s how to stop:

I’m taking a look at one of the ways people bring a lot of stress and anxiety upon themselves. It’s interesting that this particular cause of stress is often self-inflicted, but it’s phrased in such a way that the source appears to be someone or something beyond our control. The cause – A single word.

So let’s look at the word “Should”.

Saying “Should” has a few negative effects:


  • “Should” can indicate a conflict in your mind between what you feel is your duty or obligation, and what you actually intend to do. Almost like accepting failure before you even begin. That inner-conflict will cause anxiety.
  • “Should” can imply judgement – that the should-ee is not measuring up to the should-er’s expectations, causing more conflict.
  • “Should” can be tied with regret, which does not serve you.
  • “Should” can lower your self-worth, by dwelling on shortcomings and creating a distance between you and what you consider success.


  • “Must” or “Will” indicate clear decisive intent. There is no question or conflict.
  • “Can” indicates what is possible without judging whether someone ought to.
  • “Want” will indicate the should-er’s expectations, without reflecting on the should-ee’s worth or ability.
  • Instead of focusing on the shortcomings that come with “Should”, just focus on the most useful details of what “is”

THE CHALLENGE: Do not use the word “Should” at all. Sure, there may be times when it is appropriate, but the challenge is to do without it completely.

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