Shoulds & Musts
It is doubtful that a day goes by where any one of us doesn’t use one of these words about something we feel needs to be done. But these little, innocent-looking words are in fact enormous traps in how we think – traps that keep our minds locked into less than useful way of thinking and being.
These beliefs – that we should, must or ought to do something better, be somebody better or have something else – become even more toxic when we start developing ourselves through study, training, reading, coaching or even counselling. If we start to think we should be somehow different we start to terrorise our inner mind with these beliefs – beliefs like;
‘I should be more confident in meetings’; ‘I must stop procrastinating; ‘I shouldn’t avoid public speaking’ etc.
The thing to remember is that the more we say to our inner mind ‘must, ‘should or ‘ought’ the more we are repeatedly programming ourselves to believe we are not good enough as we are, and that our happiness, success and peace depends on us doing something else. It’s a bit like making the hole at the bottom of a boat bigger with the same bucket we are trying, faster and faster, to bail out with. Tiring and ultimately futile!
A great trick to avoid this is to use a different language pattern entirely. It sounds a little odd at first but it is very useful in communicating effectively to our inner minds. We suggest something like this…
‘It would be great / useful / helpful to do X but it’s fine if I don’t’
Either way, whatever you choose, the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ are a thinking trap. Thinking in this way will never help us to be truly happy.
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