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  • Candice Beaton, LCSW

Why "Should-ing" Yourself Makes Things Worse

"I SHOULD have gotten up earlier, I SHOULD be in a better mood, I SHOULD have been more present with loved ones, I SHOULD have known better, I SHOULD feel HAPPY." Oh, that last one..." I SHOULD feel happy." If people only knew how much this statement can worsen their mood. For many, there can be a disconnect between how a person feels and how they think they SHOULD feel. The well intended SHOULD can come from influences such as family, friends, co-workers, and society at large. Regardless, it can be a one way ticket to feeling anxious and depressed. Think about it, you are essentially invalidating and minimizing your experience. A big part of therapy is to explore how you feel without judgment. In fact, part of my work as a therapist is to help people connect to how they feel separate from how they think they SHOULD feel.

With time and effort, the practice of leaving that pesky word SHOULD out of it, you can start to reduce unwanted stress and sadness. Of course one would prefer to feel happy, but the reality is in certain situations...happiness is not the goal. This includes things such as grief, job loss, life transitions, break ups, etc. Happiness doesn't necessarily match these situations and so part of the work in therapy is to validate your experience without outside influences. Additionally, Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a great therapy intervention regarding those Should's.

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