The Continuous Battle with “Shoulds”.

The Continuous Battle with “Shoulds”.

How often do you battle with should thinking? “I should do this or I should do that.” The truth is that I battle should thinking on a regular basis. One example of this is that my “to do list” is so long that there is no way to complete it, EVER! Then add on the “shoulds” of the holiday season. Ugh just ugh!

Does this scenario feel familiar to you? A sad truth is that living with “should thinking” brings a lot of guilt, shame and a heavy burden into my life. What does this bring up for you?

The Oxford dictionary definition of should is: “used to indicate obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.” Webster’s dictionary says: “to express obligation, propriety or expediency.”

The two things that jump out most to me in these definitions is obligation and criticizing of someone else’s actions. This feels like heavy energy to me. What does it bring up for you?

“Should thinking” creates so much suffering for us all. The truth is that our brain creates the majority of it. It is mostly us who are criticizing our own actions. Should works in concert with the voice in our brain known as the judger, our master saboteur. Can you feel the suffering your brain creates for you?

Should do this, should do that, then the guilt appears when we choose not to do that.

It is important to recognize that there are individual operating beliefs that work beneath the theme of should also. One of my primary belief patterns is that there is no play or rest until the work is done. Guess what? The work is never done! Secondarily is my people pleasing trait. Pleasing others allows no time for caring for myself. Can you identify with me?

Whenever I think about refueling or nurturing myself, it is not long before the “should thinking” shows up! I am often in a full out war between my brain and my heart. I am learning that in order to refuel, I need to let my heart speak out and win the battle more often. This helps me put my personal needs on the top of my own list.

Beware, the “should thinking” and subsequent guilty feelings will always be lurking. It will show up right in the middle of your refueling activity. Notice it and then shove it aside. You and I both deserve to nurture ourselves and refuel.

The to do list will always remain as long as we are breathing. The good news is that you will have more energy to tackle it when you put yourself on the top of your list also.

I fight the battle of “should thinking” nearly every day. Are you ready to fight your battle alongside mine?

I am slowly making progress in putting myself on the top of my own list. I guarantee that you will too if you make different choices and fight your “should thinking.” Challenge your belief patterns and release the guilt.

What action will you take today to refuel without the burden of guilt and “should thinking”?

The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is permission to refuel setting aside your should thinking.

I am wishing you a blessed holiday season!


Contact me:

Cella Hartline Cella Janisch-Hartline, RN, BSN, PCC, Certified Professional Coach, Nursing Leadership Senior Manager for Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative has been involved in various healthcare industry leadership positions for the past 40 years. The majority of her career has been spent working in an acute care critical access facility for nearly 25 years. Throughout her work experience, she has learned most of her leadership skills and techniques through the school of “hard knocks”. Cella’s passion for teaching leadership tips and techniques earned her the 2018 Outstanding Educator Award through the National Rural Health Association. She is well-known for her humorous, engaging and personable facilitation style.


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