The end of should

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I am ready to let go of the shoulds.

I should wake up earlier. I should go to bed earlier. I should drink more water. I should eat less chocolate. I should exercise more. I should socialise more. I should get out the house more. I should phone my family more. I should stop obsessing about X. I should let go of Y. I should be happier. I should be more grateful. I should chill the fuck out. I should be more extroverted. I should blog more. I should do more marketing. I should organise my accounts better. I should learn how to do X. I should stop doing Y. I should be more brave. I should be less scared. I should be more optimistic. I should smile more. I should be less serious. I should look on the bright side. I should be more supportive. I should be less judgemental. I should be more responsible. I should be married by now. I should have kids by now. I should be less selfish. I should have more patience. I should wait and see. I should trust. I should believe. I should stop thinking about it. I should stop shoulding myself all the time.

Oh yeah, I’m so ready to let go of the shoulds. Should is a spectacularly unhelpful word and every time it enters my head — which is most of the time — I feel myself sink lower and lower. Should is the strict headmistress telling me what to do. Telling me how useless I am. Telling me I’m no good.

Well, sod that, I’ve had enough. I am ready to let go of the shoulds.

What are you ready to let go of?

31 responses
  1. Sas

    A-fucking-men. Love you x

  2. Marylin

    Totally trying to take a leaf out of this post this year. I’m so sick of making myself feel bad by putting pressure on myself for things that don’t even really matter!
    Am I really going to be upset when at the end of my life, I didn’t go to the gym more? Or I wasn’t more thoughtful in my actions? Or or or… no. No I won’t be. I will be too busy being surrounded by the love of my family and friends. That’s what matters. That’s what’s important to me.
    Now off I go to tend to the child screaming at the tv for the umpteenth time for not passing a level on the xbox, bless him! <3

  3. kathryn

    if you figure out how to let the shoulds go…please let me know…cuz i have a very strict headmistress in my head too!! and i know life would be so much happier without her!!!

  4. Kathleen

    I hear you! It hasn’t occurred to me until recently that only doing something because I ‘should’ isn’t really taking care of myself. When I love me and only say yes to a hell yes, then I can love everyone more. Go figure.

  5. Bella

    Let it go, girl.
    I’m done with anything that makes me sink.

  6. Susan Fox

    Oh yes, we all Should read this several times, then copy and print it out and paste it where we can readily read it for fear that headmistress strikes!

  7. Jessica

    What perfect timing this project is! My word(s) for the year are “Let Go” as in releasing expectations – allowing my life to unfold without trying to control it or manipulate it into doing or being what I think it should be.

    And like you Susannah, I let go of shoulding on myself. Yes!


  8. kat

    I laughed at myself for saying oh yeah I should stop doing that too…

  9. Flora

    That’s a great list! And here I thought I was the only one. ;)
    Thanks again for your workbook Susannah. One specific thing it did for me was to take a ‘should’ (I should teach more workshops even though it’s super stressful for me) and move it to “I accept that this is my challenge and I am not a failure if I choose not to teach workshops.” Because those shoulds imply that who we are and where we are is just not good enough. We all have this ideal picture in our heads of who we should be.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

  10. Tina

    you. are. not. useless!

    speaking of me : i should stop thinking how to please others!

  11. Martha

    A few years ago a friend suggested that whenever I find myself saying ‘I should’ I try replacing it with ‘could’ and it has really helped. Feels completely different!

  12. Marlad

    I am ready to let go of the self doubt that overtook me when a man I trusted pulled the rug out from under my life two years ago and (metaphorically) left me for dead. I didn’t die…and I finally cleared away enough of the pile of shit that muthafucka left to see clearly that I am still me.

  13. Krista

    YES!!! That has been the cry of my heart this year too. :-) I’ve been focusing on doing what I want, what I love instead and it’s been so much nicer. :-) I’ve lived under the soul-crushing of “shoulds” quite long enough, thankyouverymuch. :-) This week I’m letting go of “should look a certain way.”

  14. Sheila Bergquist

    I love this…we definitely need to get rid of the shoulds! I’m so tired if beating myself up because I can’t do something I “should” do…as you said, enough! There is only one should we should have:
    We should all just be ourselves!

  15. Rhianne

    Eee, this was just what I needed, I’m so glad you shared :)

    Funnily enough my word last year was alleviate but I seem to be doing more of the letting go this year than last already – perhaps because I really want to focus on living rather than carrying this year… I love how once you have a word with you it sticks with you without even trying.

    and YES to the letting go of shoulds! x

  16. kelly m

    I dropped ‘should’ and replaced it with what I was really trying to say … .and that was ‘want’. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you want something.
    Another word that I stopped using was ‘have’, as in “I have to go to work today.” I changed that one to ‘get’. What a difference that makes in your attitude !!!
    Great post. Thx.

  17. Kerstin

    Shoulding (this should be a word in the dictionary!) is all about guilt and shame. I kept nodding along most of the shoulds on your list! And I really like Kelly’s suggestion to replace the should’s and have to’s with words that empower rather than defeat. Great post!

  18. Claire

    Great post Susannah, thanks for sharing! We all need to kinder to ourselves :)

  19. Lydia Kimble-Wright

    Great post. I have numerous shoulds and perhaps you are right, it is time to let them go. I need to let go of worry. It causes me nothing but stress and sadness. Way to go on your letting go.



  20. CJ

    You’re right, should is like a black cloud hanging over us. Do it or don’t do it, but no “shoulds”.

  21. Bea

    My word of the year is ‘soften’ — the antithesis of rules and shoulds. Fuck all that noise.

  22. heidi

    I have been working on letting go of “should” also. I have found that my “shoulds” are usually based on fear.
    So I am trying to acknowledge and befriend my fear and gently put it aside to do what my inner wisdom is telling me?


    Wow, now I wanna let go of “should’s” as well. Never thought of it as being such a “spectacularly unhelpful word”.

  24. Sandy

    This post was an eye-opener. Thanks!

  25. Ida

    Thank you for this!

  26. Johanna

    Instead of “should” I often think “I would like to…” Just sayin’. oxox

  27. La plume et la page

    I’m not ready to let go of the “shoulds”. I should look on the bright side, I should be more optimistic… ’cause I don’t trust myself… It’s not easy.

  28. shannon

    Oh hell yes, woman!

  29. Latifa

    Dear Susannah, I’m with ya on letting go of the should’s – they can be so self defeating. xxoo to you

  30. Jeanine

    amen, sister. xo

  31. Christina Rosalie

    Yes yes! The end of should. I love it.

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