Shoulda, woulda, coulda: How to stop "shoulding" on yourself

Jun 20, 2018

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How many times have you said or thought to yourself, “I know I should be doing that, but…”? Probably too many times to keep track of.

We all do it

We all know what we should be doing to take better care of ourselves and become majestic unicorn human beings. We should work out. We should eat better. We should get more sleep and rest. We should read more and enrich our minds daily. We should spend more time with those we love. We should have positive thoughts and push out negative thoughts. We should volunteer and give back to the community. We should challenge ourselves. We should limit our social media and TV consumption. The list goes on and on.

Sometimes thinking of all the things you know you should be doing causes stress levels to rise. In return, we think there is no way we’ll do all the things we want to do, so instead we avoid them all. It can be very overwhelming and the easiest way out is to think of a laundry list of excuses as to why you’re not doing the things you know you want to do.

As I’m sure you’ve heard at some point in your life, "Excuses are like buttholes, everyone has one and they all stink.” Whether you agree or disagree with this quote, the overarching theme is that excuses are very common. Holding yourself accountable, despite what’s happening in your life, is uncommon.

It’s time to stop “shoulding” on yourself

Let’s look at how to break free from the norm and become uncommon, majestic unicorn human beings in our everyday lives. Remember the stress and overwhelming pressure we put on ourselves is all self-created. To eliminate this stress and anxiety and live overall healthier lives we need to start with tiny micro-steps.

This breaks down to making commitments and establishing habits. No need to go for a home run or slam dunk right out the gate; we need to learn how to dribble first in the game of life.

The first step to stop “shoulding” on yourself is to realize your own self-worth

This means to take a step back and recognize how much of a bad ass, boss, powerful, amazing person you are. By thinking of yourself with high regard, you will value yourself more. When you value yourself, you value your body, your mind, your soul. You value taking care of yourself and you hold yourself to a higher standard. Some people value their cars better than they value themselves.

Start with the one thing that you really want to improve in your life

Perhaps that’s your physical health. Now pick one aspect to focus on. Is it your physique, the way you feel, the rest you’re giving yourself? Once you pick that, create a weekly goal for yourself. This could be walking for 30 minutes three times a week, setting a strict bedtime for yourself no matter what is happening, or meal prepping your food and not eating out. Whatever it is, be as specific as possible and start small. It also helps to get an accountability partner. Find a friend with similar goals and work together to keep up your regimen.

Celebrate the small victories

Now, I’m not telling you to pop bottles because you finally washed the dishes you’ve been avoiding, but yes celebrate when you accomplish your goals. If you’re able to set milestones for yourself and celebrate along the way it will make the journey to receiving your unicorn horn much more enjoyable.

You deserve better than constantly “shoulding” on yourself. Take action today and you’ll be amazed at the difference in your quality of life in just one month. I believe in you.

Erica Ferguson is a Stress Management Coach and the Founder of Prioritizing You, a service teaching how to manage stress, avoid burnout, and navigate through life transitions. Sign up for "Your Weekly Recharge" newsletter with insight and tips about managing stress and life: