I caught myself saying it to my husband early this morning, the one word I try like hell never to say. And most definitely never write.
“What do you mean I have to do tax stuff today? I’m so busy today, you should’ve told me sooner!” I said voice raised, frustrated I was being inconvenienced.
Then I corrected myself, “I didn’t mean to say should, you could’ve told me I mean, sorry.”
I loathe the word should, as we’ve all been hearing it all our lives. Should is the word our parents hammered into our heads. “You should’ve listened, you should call me when you’re late!” Should is what our husbands say when we’re crying into our wine, and he’s trying to help fix our problems. (When all we want is some sympathy.) “You should have told her no!” And should is the word I’ve been saying to myself for years, when I’m too hard on myself. “You should have lost that weight by now. You should have finished your book. You shouldn’t yell at the girls so much when Bob travels!”
It’s also everywhere in the media. Websites, television shows, and magazines scream at us what we should be doing. “The Super Foods You SHOULD Be Eating.” It’s maddening really, and normally I won’t even click an article with the word should in the title, simply because it’s such a huge peeve. (Unless I like the writer of course!)
I first learned of the meaning of this word from the book, “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. I was struggling to get pregnant, and literally started throwing up the night I needed to start IVF injections. I was so incredibly terrified of needles and the procedure ahead, I cancelled the protocol, and went to a holistic spa that evening. It was there the massage therapist recommended this book, the first of many that changed my life. I bought it, and never put it down, reading all night despite the fact I had to be on camera the next morning for a cheerleading broadcast. I was out of town in Tampa, alone, scared, and this was exactly what I needed.
In the exercises on the word should, Hay writes:
I believe the word should is one of the most damaging words in the our language. Every time we use should, we are, in effect, saying “wrong.” Either we are wrong or we were wrong or we are going to be wrong. I don’t think we need more wrongs in our life. We need to have more freedom of choice. I would like to take the word should and remove it from the vocabulary forever. I’d replace it with the word could. Could gives us a choice, and we are never wrong.
This is just one of the many passages that stayed with me from Hay’s book, and it’s something I still practice to this day. With the kids, I remind them what they could be doing. With my husband it helps me react kinder in challenging conversations, and at work, it’s a wonderful way to sugar coat changes that sometimes need to be made in editing. Or in shooting. “Well, that looks awesome! I love the effects! You could however shorten this soundbite, it might flow a little smoother.”
Because in life I’ve learned,
And if you want positive results, sometimes you need to change the way you ask.
Life’s a balancing act, and it’s hard to always tiptoe around different personalities, when you just really want to yell, “You should just put the damn toilet seat down!” But, “could you please put the toilet seat down?” sounds much nicer doesn’t it?
So next time you hear yourself saying should, or typing it, maybe you’ll remember this post. You might even try saying could instead of should. And you just might get what you want, if you too try like hell not to say should.