Earlier this week, I wrote about should statements, what they look like and what we can do about them. While writing the post, I realized I’ve learned a lot about should statements and should thinking, and how to manage it. That said, here are five helpful things to remember when you’re trying to reframe should statements.
Notice when you use should statements
One of the key parts of overcoming a mental health challenge is self-awareness. Changing a pattern can’t happen overnight. Oftentimes, we’re dealing with years of thinking or acting a certain way. You can’t change a pattern if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Every time you catch yourself in a should statement, try to take note of it. Even if you can’t reframe it in the moment, you can start to realize just how often it happens.
Find a more realistic statement
One problem I have with should statements is that they’re often unrealistic. We should ourselves because we can’t (or won’t) do things that aren’t even possible. We blame ourselves for things out of our control, or insist we should’ve known something when it was never a possibility. Take a statement like “I should run every day.” we can set up a more realistic goal that will actually help us accomplish things.
Set specific goals
Another problem I have with should statements is that in addition to being negative, they can also be vague. Negative thoughts don’t need to be specific to do damage to our confidence. Vague statements like “I should be better” create unrealistic expectations that we can never meet. How are we trying to be better? Will we ever actually meet that goal? Specifying how we might be feeling and focusing on a clarified statement might make these feelings a little clearer.
Challenge your negative thoughts
For a long time, I tried to ignore my negative thoughts. I was under the impression that if I didn’t acknowledge them, they wouldn’t hold any power. The problem with this approach is that while I avoided the thoughts in the moment, they took hold in my brain. When negative thoughts go unchallenged, they can fester and build on themselves. Without meaning to, our negative thoughts can dominate our headspace. By challenging the negative aspect of should statements, we’re calling them out. Even if we can’t do it every single time, each interaction helps make us stronger.
Be kind to yourself
You’d think that gaining self-awareness of an issue would mean that this issue would go away soon, right? While gaining awareness is a huge first step, building new habits takes time. And not only does it take time to create new habits, it takes time to undo others. When it comes to should statements, we’re often going up against years (if not decades) of thinking this way. It probably won’t happen overnight, and that’s okay. Be kind to yourself on this journey and when you see improvement or growth, celebrate that. You deserve to!
Should thinking can be challenging to overcome, but it’s worth it. Reframing our thoughts goes a long way toward mental health and wellness. Even if the journey is long, it always helps to be kinder and more understanding toward ourselves. Wishing you good luck on your journey!
Now, over to you! What do you think about should statements? Have you been able to overcome should thinking in the past? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments below!