What is this thing you should be doing? Hell if I know. But when I look on social media, news websites, and magazine covers the word SHOULD is there! It’s become one of my two most disliked words of 2014. Let me explain.

Should implies that you’re not doing something right. Should implies that you’re not doing enough. Everything from how you’re writing to reading to raising your kids to doing your job to the food you buy to the exercises you do or don’t do to who your lover in a past life was to colors to…and this was a new one to me this morning when I was playing on Pinterest…showering. How you should be showering. Really? That one kinda tipped me over.

We’re always talking about not comparing ourselves to others because it makes us feel bad or worse than bad if we’re not achieving as much, making as much, doing as much, losing as much, going as much… But should gives us permission to make comparisons. You should be… It’s telling us that we’re NOT doing or going or being or achieving or making enough so do it like someone else, something else because they’re way is right or better and our way isn’t.

I fell into the SHOULD trap a lot in 2014. Trends and fads tell us what we should be writing, reading, wearing, listening to, watching, driving. Many of us don’t listen to ourselves because the should’s drown our own voices out. It’s easy to think ‘yeah, I should be working 18 hour days’, ‘yeah, I should change my whole parenting routine because my kids act like kids’, ‘yeah, i should stop all sugar, all grain, all carbs even if I don’t have a medical reason why’… This is all detrimental to me. Maybe it’s not to you and that’s OKAY! But, it’s detrimental to me. I have a hard enough time making decisions on what I think is right for me without second guessing and questioning myself every step of that way. Should makes me question and doubt. Should makes me compare myself to others. Should makes me think that I’m a bad parent, a bad spouse, a bad friend, a bad cook, a bad housekeeper, a bad writer, and the list goes on. It probably makes me bad at lists too.

Should is a dangerous word. At least for me. It’s hard enough to be strong. There’s a lot that tries to tear us down. No blog, magazine, meme, infographic, television show should (hahaha) have that kind of power. Yes, it’s good to try new things and different ways of doing things, but the constant bombardment of What You Should…that tells us we’re not doing good or right when we do it our own ways…? I think that’s, at least for me, counterproductive. I want what works for me and yes, there are some good ideas out there in the land of Should, but listening to me more than those other voices is likely going to be what gets me where I need to be as a person, a mom, a friend, a writer better than comparing myself to what I should be…

Yes, I do say ‘You should read this!’. And it’s often one of my own books that I say that about. I say it about other books too. I will work on that. The sentiment will be same, in that I want you to read those books I recommend, but maybe the implication that your life won’t be complete if you don’t, will be gone.

Tune in tomorrow for the other word that grates on my nerves…

~lissa