Stop Saying ‘I Should’… Take Back Control With These 4 Questions


Hands up who is a ‘I should’ person? I ‘should’ do this… I ‘Should’ do that…

Once you start paying attention to the ‘Should’s’ in your life, you realise that they can get in everywhere if you let them.

There’s a term I use to describe when this happens – when saying ‘should’ becomes a unknowing part of your life - unconscious disempowerment. You see friends, we are literally disempowering ourselves without even realising it every time we say ‘should’. And here’s why.

Unconscious dis-empowerment.

The word ‘should’ actually implies a duty or an obligation to something or someone which isn’t you.

Maybe you’ve never even questioned your use of the word ‘should’, but I would encourage you to start tuning in and becoming aware of when this word pops up for you.

The big question is therefore who is the obligation to? Who are we duty bound to do it for? Who is this external ‘person’ that we handing our power over to?

This is something that comes up time and again when I coach my clients, and it often comes up when we discuss something that they really want to do or achieve. It’s like a self-made barrier, blocking them from pursuing what they actually want, and instead they do what they think other people want them to do or expect them to do.

I’d love to, but I should do X instead…

A few months ago, I had a client who really wanted to sign up to a new course of study. When she spoke about it she came alive. Her eyes sparkled, her energy shot up and her smile was infectious. But after she finished telling me all about this amazing course and how much she’d love to do it, she said ‘…..but I should probably focus on other things right now.’

Hang on, whaaaat?! Say that again?!

So I opened this up. Part of my role as a coach is to find a client’s blinds spots and shine a big luminous light on them. So I asked her ‘Who says you need you to focus on those other things right now?’

We started to explore these other projects and why she felt she had to focus on them. Despite these other things not being necessary or filling her heart with joy, she still felt this obligation to finish them. Why? Because she’d already started them and felt duty bound to finish them. It was only when she realised she had actually moved on, her passions had shifted, and she actually just needed to give herself permission to let them go, could she drop them.

How many of us continue to do things because we think we ‘should’? It’s like we need a permission slip to follow our hearts desire. And I can completely relate to this when looking back on my own life.

Who are we obligated to exactly?

The obligation my client felt to stay focused on these projects felt like an external pressure. But in reality, the pressure was all coming from her – it was self-made. At its core was the issue of not being able to give herself the permission to do what she actually wanted to do.

She had given away her power to something that wasn’t even real.

By the end of our session she had made a plan and was ready to sign up to the course that had made her feel so alive. She was ready to start making decisions based not on what she ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do, but on what she wanted and needed to do.

Where are you saying should in your life?

Perhaps you can relate to any of these life scenarios:

“I’d love to come this weekend, but I should stay home and do work”

“Lunch would be great today, but I should finish these emails”

“That sounds really great, but I should help out with the family”

Saying goodbye to your ‘should’s’ doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the responsibilities you have to those around you. It simply means challenging the word ‘should’, and changing your language to be more empowering.


  1. Who says I should?

  2. What would happen if I didn’t?

  3. Do I actually need to do it?

  4. Do I actually want to do it?

Taking those three examples above, how much more empowering do the following now sound? They might not lead to the ‘fun’ outcome, but at least now you have made a conscious empowered decision.

“I’d love to come this weekend, but I need to stay home and do work”

“Lunch would be great today, but I want to finish these emails”

“That sounds really great, but I need to help out with the family”

When you swap ‘should’ for the word ‘need’, you’re making a choice to do something because it is necessary or very important to you or someone around you.

When you use the word ‘want’, you’re making a choice to do something because you have a desire to do it!

So the next time you catch yourself using the word ‘should’, check in with yourself about who you’re really feeling obligated towards. You may be surprised at the answer.