How one word changes everything

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In previous blogs I have talked about the power of language, in particular removing the word should from our vocabulary.

The implications of telling ourselves, or others for that matter, that we or they “should” do something are not good. But why can one word like ‘should’ be so powerful? Well it is. And I have spent some time thinking, researching and talking with people about this one very specific word.

And I would like to share it with you.

Should implies obligation, that we must do something for a reason. That reason is something that can be imposed because of expectations – which can be external or internal. Expectations alone are not a bad thing however when they do not align with our personal values then the misalignment brings negative outcomes.

What do I mean in practical terms. I have a friend that comes from a family that are all doctors, well at least for the last couple of generations anyway. When we were in our first year of university together they had automatically signed up to medicine whilst I was commencing my psychology degree. At the end of year one they were telling me how they loved the science and helping component but preferred the idea of becoming a vet. The idea alone made sense but the context of the expectations they felt from their family cast a certain shadow of their thought process. When they said to me that they had talked to their family about it, they were not happy about it but my friend did it anyway. Subsequently they have become a very successful vet and has a thriving business. When I think back to it, it was such a courageous act to stand up for your voice and have yourself heard in a sea of disapproval. Especially at such a young age. In addition they were true themselves, what they needed to do to be happy even if it went against the expectations of their family.

Fast forward a number of years (about 20) and I look at my clients and can see how powerful external expectations are when making decisions. Especially the mothers in that group (which are by far the majority of my clients) are challenged by the additional responsibilities of running a business, managing a family and more; So when wanting to scale their business they feel that they shouldn’t as they won’t be able to manage everything. What I challenge them with is questioning the paradigm that they are functioning in. Why is it that they need to be the primary carer, why can’t it be more equally shared? Why do they feel that it is their responsibility? Is that from society’s expectation on them or self-imposed? I suggest both. However I also suggest that it is time to challenge these expectations that we have in our space…they are limiting us from fulfilling our incredible potential.

By removing the word from my vocabulary I feel liberated by own expectations of myself as well that of others. Of course one word can’t do all that, but it was the start of my journey towards living a more authentic life. It’s important to be honest with oneself and by removing one word has made a big difference in not only my life but of many of my clients.

How would you live your life if you removed the word should from your vocabulary?

 

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