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The Happiness Connection  

Stop shoulding yourself

How many times a day do you use the word should or some variation of it? 

The best way to get an accurate answer is to ask a few people to be your “should police.”

When I first started working with a coach, we talked about doing things because I felt they were important not because they were expected of me. During our discussions, she would stop me every time should crept into my vocabulary.

There were some very halting conversations in those first few months.

I have lived much of my life doing things that I felt were expected of me even though I hated them. For example, when I lived in England, there was a regular social calendar of dinner parties to host and attend.

Cooking is something I have never really liked or felt confident about. I do it to combat the sound of gurgling stomachs, not because it is enjoyable. I’m fine preparing meals for my family, but when other people are involved, I get really nervous.

Whenever I was hosting, I would spend a week or so experimenting with recipes. The day before the event involved cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and dreading what was looming.

The day after involved cleaning the house, grocery shopping for food that wouldn’t fit in the fridge because of the dinner party provisions, and relief that it was over – for a month or two.

In case you are thinking that despite my worry these dinner parties were probably a huge success, let me stop you in your thoughts.

One time there wasn’t enough food, and another time my guests enjoyed pie with a burnt topping.

If you have ever watched the first Bridget Jones’ Diary movie, you will get the idea of what might be in your future if you came to my house for dinner.

Why did I do it?

Because I thought I should. If you are invited to someone’s house for a home-cooked meal, you should invite them back to your place to sample your culinary delights – even if you don’t have any.

If you get asked to help with an activity or event, you should say yes.

If someone offers you a cookie to go with your coffee, you should take one.

When my daughter was 10 weeks old, my doctor, and midwife suggested it would be best for my unsettled baby to have bottle supplements. I agreed, but if I was in public, I would hide in a corner somewhere because I was ashamed.

I should be able to produce enough milk.

I feel like there were more shoulds in England than here, but that might just be my perception. I moved there when I got married, and it’s where I became a mom. I am also thinking back several decades, so things have undoubtedly changed.

  • Can you relate to these stories?
  • Have you done things because you thought you should?
  • Are you unconsciously still letting that word have power in your life?

The time has come to stop shoulding yourself.

The best way to do that is to consciously discover who you are and accept that you are the perfect version of you for today. Don’t hide your areas of challenge, readily admit them, but work on growing and developing them.

The best version of you will probably look nothing like the best version of your best friend, or family members.

You will never reach perfection. There is no such thing. Concentrate on growing every day, not achieving a level you think you should be aiming for.

I no longer consider my lack of culinary skills to be a weakness. I have lots of interests and talents, they just don’t happen to be gastronomic ones.

Today, when I entertain family and friends, I freely admit that there is no guarantee that the food will be edible, or that I will have made it myself. I doubt that they care.

Once you know, accept and love yourself fully, you can share your authentic self with the rest of the world. This is where confidence and freedom live.

I would like you to like me, but if you don’t, I can live with that.

Trust me when I say, the best thing I ever did was to stop shoulding myself.



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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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