SHOULD You Really Change Your Self Talk by Dr Martin Russell
SHOULD You Really Change Your Self Talk?
You can often hear people say something along the lines of,
"I know I really SHOULD, but somehow I just don't!" Perhaps
you have even said something like this yourself, even if
you did mutter it under your breath. Don't worry. It's just
words in common English usage. However you can interpret
more from this statement than you will find in a
If you listen carefully to what people say it can give you
a really insight into their thinking and actions. If you
hear the phrase "I should..." then you can automatically
guess that in reality this means "I won't..." Simply using
the word "should" is enough to let you know that it's not
going to happen because if it was they would have said
"when I..." or "I will..." or something more definitive.
You can make the equation "should" = "won't".
Now before some of you protest too loudly, let me add that
I don't think this is bad. What you think you "should" do
is actually unlikely to be correct. It may seem
counterintuitive to respond this way, so give me a chance
to offer two examples to see if I can make this clearer.
First, think about a time when you didn't stand up for
yourself and you thought "I should have really given them a
Well, no you shouldn't have. You know it, and everyone else
knows it too. This "should" comes up as an over-reaction to
the initial under-reaction. I've had people tell me what
they "should" have done, and it included things that would
have landed them in police custody. It was a really good
thing that they didn't act upon that "should", and yet they
are still beating themselves up with their language to try
and change the past to something that would have been worse
than what they did in fact do.
This might seem too obvious an example of when "should" is
wrong, but check for a moment. How many other times have
you said "I should do X", when X is really an overreaction
to the original situation?
Second, there are times when doing the things you "know you
should", is simply because someone else said so. Maybe you
didn't question it at the time, maybe you did, either way
you are following instructions now.
People throughout our lives are giving us guidance, from
the early years of parents and teachers, on to friends,
peers, self-help books, lawyers and doctors, and on, and
on. They are not always right. In fact the advice is so
often conflicting that it is almost certainly wrong much of
the time. And even if someone is confident in telling you
what is correct, their certainty is no guide to how well
their information will work for you. It may just leave you
feeling still however like you "should" do as they
When you notice this type of "should" then you don't need
to persist with it unswervingly. Instead you can take a
moment to stop, and reexamine the original information to
decide how relevant it is to the particular situation you
are considering. Even if it had value before, it might not
apply so well the next time, and might need to be adjusted.
Either way, when you hear yourself say "should", realize
this means you won't, and you might be better off anyway.
These two self-reflections alone may help you get rid of a
whole lot of "should"s in your life, and a whole lot of
guilt as well.
As a medical doctor and counselor, Dr Martin Russell,
works to assist you to turn the efforts you have made to
improve yourself into complete results. You can find out
more by going to:
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