You should go to that party. But you really don’t want to. And if you don’t go it will certainly piss some people off. They came to your party after all. If you don’t go you’ll feel guilty. And you don’t want people mad at you. But you have a headache or something better came up or just don’t feel like being around those folks right now. What if you don’t go – oh God, but you should! YIKES – how does this affect your overall health?

Case in point:

Last year around this time I had quite a big “should do” list. I was also experiencing quite a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders, so bad that I could hardly drive because I couldn’t turn my head far enough either way to see. My coach at the time asked me why I was “shoulding myself”! Why did I think I had to do these things? I gave her a list of all the reasons for each item. She called bullshit on every one. My neck and shoulders immediately hurt even more. I wanted to just get off the call and take a muscle relaxer and go to bed. But I didn’t because I knew I should finish the call.

After we hung up I decided to look into the energetic reason why I had this neck and shoulder pain. I know that for every single physical ailment we experience, there is a feeling, belief or memory associated with it. The pain was affecting my life, getting worse and I needed it to be gone.

As I was journaling and wrote out the word “shoulder” I realized that the first 5 letters in this word were “should”. LIGHTBULB MOMENT! I saw that by carrying the stress of everything I had to get done (should get done) on my shoulders that this was causing extreme stress and causing my muscles to hurt. It was getting worse because if we don’t pay attention to these physical messages and figure out the root cause, it manifests itself bigger and bigger until there is serious illness, injury or disease. Yeah, no thanks! Enough is enough!

So I came up with a plan. I tell clients all the time to replace the word “can’t” with “won’t” because it gives them more power in whatever situation they are in. If you say “can’t” you are a victim and powerless – again you can easily list a variety of reasons, or excuses if you will, to back up your claim on why you can’t. If you replace that one word with “won’t” you are immediately empowered and in control of your situation because “won’t” is actually a combination of the words DON’T and WANT = Don’t Want = Won’t. So now who’s in charge? Yeah baby – You got the power! Example: I can’t go to the party vs. I won’t go to the party.

So if that works for empowerment and choice, how can I get the word should to be empowering? What about replacing it with the word COULD? Instead of saying “I should go to the party”, just simply changing it to “I could go to the party” made it a choice. Should has no choice. Can you feel the difference? It goes from circumstances beyond your control to you getting the choice to make the decision whether to go or not.

So just for fun, make a list of all the things that you believe you SHOULD do. Say each one out loud one by one and then repeat them, replacing the word SHOULD with “If I really wanted to I COULD ______”. I can almost hear your sigh of relief! Can you feel a little tension melting away in your shoulders? Feels good, doesn’t it?

More examples:

  • I should exercise – If I really wanted to I could exercise
  • I should quit smoking – If I really want to I could quit smoking
  • I should buy her a card for her birthday – If I really wanted to I could buy her a card for her birthday
  • I should call my parents – If I really wanted to I could call my parents

Feel the difference? Now maybe you will or maybe you won’t – but it’s totally your choice!

And let go of any fear, guilt or shame you think you should feel by not doing what you or other people think you “should” do. You know what is best for you and you have the choice to make the right decisions in your life. If it shows up remember to say “If I really wanted to I COULD feel guilty”!  That puts it in perspective, right?

Enjoy your week. And if you’d like to comment below about what you have changed from SHOULD to COULD and how it feels, tell me! I’d LOVE to hear your experience!

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