Saying no to “should”

I’m curious – have you ever noticed particular phrases or words are triggers for stress or tension or anxiety?  Any specific words come to mind?

What about the word “should”?

We say it all the time: I should drink more water; you should drive slower; everyone should pick up after their dog. (You get it!)  While anything can follow the “should”, it's really that one word I want to talk about today.   

Whether it’s someone else saying “you should” or your own thoughts saying “I should”, I want you to explore how it affects you.  I get tense when I hear a should statement, because my interpretation of it is someone telling me what to do or telling me I will only be wrong if I don’t do it.  Which is exactly what the word should is all about.

Should represents an obligation, a duty, or it’s frequently used as a measure of correctness, e.g. to be right (or correct or accepted), you should X-Y-Z.

I don't know about you, but there are already entirely too many rules in life. And I’m not saying that to throw law and order out the window.  We all have built-in rules for eating or sleeping or exercising.  (Interesting that all of the health stuff is so rule-heavy!)  We learn them as kids learn from family, functional or dysfunctional, from friends, teachers and mentors.

Add something like food sensitivities on top of all the rest of life, and we automatically add more shoulds and more rules into our day-to-day.  It gets overwhelming!  And that's when we start experiencing more shame and anger…and we give up on our healing journey.

So, when you hear somebody else - or yourself - saying, “You should X-Y-and-Z”, I want you to just take a quick moment and ask yourself why?  Why should I do that?  Or why do I need to do that?

If there's an obvious safety or legal reason that comes to mind, then certainly just roll with it.  But if the statement is something along the lines of, “you should eat this and not that”. Ask why.  Why is that important for you? Why does that work or not work for you?

Because ultimately what you eat isn't right or wrong. There's no judgment there. There's not a correct or an incorrect.  (Despite what the world may say!!) 

Even if you have food sensitivities, eating something you're sensitive to isn't right or wrong. In most situations, you're actually deciding whether to eat it or not. And by making a decision, you're also accepting the consequences of that decision… which may or may not be very comfortable.  (And that may be the answer to the why!)  But that’s the power of your choice.

Ultimately this is all about letting go of some of the rules and as many of the shoulds as we can.  Replace it with need or “I want to do this because…”.  The power in that phrase is it digs into your motivation for doing something instead of following a rule about doing it. 

Maybe that seems like semantics?  I can tell you from personal experience, shifting your mindset from a place of rules and shame to a place of authority and decision-making is huge.  And a journey like the one you and I walk with food sensitivities is a long one…the mind game is critical component of that journey.

So I'm declaring Down with the Rules and Down with the Shoulds!! Let's get rid of the Shame of the Should. (Sounds a bit Shakespearean, doesn’t it?!) 

Still struggling to get started on your own food sensitivity journey?  Testing might be the best place to start. Consider downloading my free resource, Food Sensitivity Testing: Which test is right for you?, by clicking here.   I walk you through many of the different food sensitivity tests, as well as the test for food allergies, so you can make an informed decision about which one should work the best for you!

(See what I did there?!)


food sensitivities, self-advocate, self-care, shame, should, stress

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