I am staging a boycott on the word ‘should’. I am making an attempt to erase it from my life. I have never, ever held so much distain for a word than I do for the word ‘should’. Except, perhaps, ‘shouldn’t’ which I don’t hear or use quite as much.
Should, should, should, should, should, should, should – say it enough times and it starts to sound like the noise a skier makes when they try to jump off a chalet and the roof caves in!
There are many reasons to use the word should. Here are a few dictionary definitions which are the main focus of this rant, there are of course many other definitions, and dictionaries, that you can choose.
- Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.
- Indicating a desirable or expected state.
- Used to give or ask advice or suggestions.
- Used to indicate what is probable.
For me the use of the word should indications a need for change from the point of view of the speaker. When we use it in an entirely supportive manner it can still come across as condescending or critical. Ironically it was the exact moment a co-worked was trying to be supportive that the inevitable decline started that lead to me quitting my job.
Retail is damn hard. I always knew I wasn’t cut out for a job in retail but I never realized quite how much. In April this year we were due to have a very exclusive visit to our store, from the VP of the company. I was a team leader and in charge of the womenswear department. As my direct boss was away on holiday I worked extra hard to ensure the whole area was as organized and merchandised as possible; I problem solved, delegated and skipped breaks to make the area was the best it could be. The morning of the visit I was organizing the fitting room, beaming with pride at our achievements and received absolutely no recognition for my efforts. Other things ensued, which basically involved things I’d done on the request of my boss being changed at the last minute, and the stress got too much. I hid in the corner of the fitting room and choked down a panic attack.
That’s when the shoulds started. A colleague came in and found me. She used to have my job so she knew what it was like and, as a means to comfort me and help deal with the conflicting, confounding expectations, started to tell me what I should do…after the 10th should I had to leave.
From then on all the shoulds and shouldn’ts I got just piled and piled on top of me, pushing my sense of self and reality deeper and deeper inside. I started to get more anxious. Hey, if it should, then help me make it so. Don’t just tell me it should and then walk away. If it isn’t, then I obviously don’t know how it is. There was no support though and it was pretty evident that it wasn’t going to come. I was sick of the shoulds and focused more on what is…
I’m educated and capable, I should be able to work in retail = I am not in the right place.
The use of the word should has a psychological effect too, as discussed by Susan Heitler Ph.D. and can lead to a defeatist or defensive attitude. It makes me feel as if what I am already doing isn’t good enough and that I’m failing.
And there was my decision to leave and the start on my path of being true to myself.
It is what it is. Sure, my husband should be more affectionate from time to time, but he isn’t and should won’t change it.
Yeah, I should have a new job by now but I don’t and it’s not like I’m not trying…if anyone has any new suggestions to help me get there, I’ll take them.
No, I shouldn’t be using up all of my savings to pay for food and rent, but otherwise we won’t be able to eat or have a roof over our heads so what other choice do I have?
Should also links to regret and I don’t suffer with that. In hindsight I should have stayed in retail…that way we’d still have money and could do stuff together and not be going into my savings…WRONG! I did exactly what I had to do, no regrets. When I make a decision it is informed and considered and true to that moment. No regrets.
Shall, on the other hand, can stay. To me it connotes a decision made, rather than one pondered…unless used as ‘shall I?’ and then that can do one as well!
From now my world will (shall) be an informed reality. Shall, or shall not, there is no should.