Why You Need to Stop Shoulding Yourself

The negative trap of acting out of perceived obligation


How many times a day do you say or think that you ‘should’ be doing something. That seemingly innocuous word could be getting in the way of your happiness.

Not long ago, we posted a question on our Facebook page – “What is the #1 challenge you face in your quest to be happier?”

A response we got from our Facebook friend Robyn Elaine got us talking. She said, “Releasing fear of the unknown as I stray from the straight & narrow (and icky) path of “should”.  We have to commend Robyn for bravely facing the unknown (spontaneity bonus points) but also for recognizing what a negative trap ‘shoulding yourself’ can be.

It turns out, ‘Shoulding Yourself’ is an actual psychological term coined by psychologist Clayton Barbeau who described it as a cognitive disorder (yep, it’s that bad). The disorder feeling the need to act out of obligation not supported by reason. Think about that – how many times a day do you do something out of sheer obligation or to live up to someone’s expectations – often at the expense of what you really want to be doing?

Okay, okay – we know. We can’t go around ignoring some of our most prime societal obligations and doing whatever our heart desires – that’s another disorder! Somewhere in the middle there is a healthy level of behaving in accordance with societal norms that doesn’t involve feeling bad every time you think you ‘should’ be doing (or being) something else.

We take a trip to shoulds-ville and discover it’s not a very happy place – especially since spontaneity can’t live there. That’s no fun! It’s time you stop shoulding yourself and we’ve get some tips on how you can decrease the ‘shoulds’ in your thinking and language.

Plus, take our spontaneity challenge and see how long you can go without thinking or saying should!  Report your results on our Facebook Page or on Twitter.

Are you ready to join the war against ‘should’?  

A special thanks to Robyn for the inspiration! Tell us what you’d like to hear a show on. What’s your biggest challenge on your quest for greater happiness?

No shoulds about it – you NEED to sign up for our newsletter where you can get a lot more of this spontaneous mindset goodness. Signing up is like a pledge to be happier.

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