We all procrastinate sometimes. We know something needs to get done, but it feels like such a large project, or it seems so boring or unpleasant, or we get anxious just thinking about it. So we procrastinate and avoid doing it for as long as we can.
One way we feed our procrastination is through our self-talk. How we talk to ourselves has a profound effect on how we feel and act. If we talk to ourselves in an empowering way, we feed our energy and motivation. But we often unconsciously talk to ourselves in a way that reinforces our feeling of being a victim, wanting to resist authority, or “not living up to expectations.”
There is a simple word that we often use that causes the most trouble. That word is…
Many of us use the word all the time: “I should get this report done now.” “I should keep a cleaner place.” “I should be more patient like Mary.” “I should have paid that bill last week.” “I really should stop procrastinating.”
According to Neil Fiore, author of “The Now Habit”, the problem with the phrase “I should do it” is that it really communicates to ourselves “I don’t want to do it, but I must force myself to do it.”
In addition, using “should’” creates negative self-critical comparisons:
- By saying something “should” be different, we are comparing an imagined ideal state with a current negative reality.
- By saying something “should” be done, we compare a finished point with a bad starting point.
- By saying we ”should” be like someone, we are comparing a person we admire with a bad/inadequate self.
The result is that we are sending ourselves the subliminal message that where we are is bad, our level of progress is bad, and we are bad.
So how do we get out of the “should” trap?
Here is a simple way to turn a “should” into productive action :
- First, list out some of the “shoulds” you have on your list, beginning each sentence with “I should…”.
- Now re-write each sentence, beginning each sentence with “If I really wanted to, I could….”
- Ask yourself compassionately why you haven’t? Chances are you find some good reasons.
- Re-look at your list, and decide if there is anything you choose to do. Write out your decision starting with “I choose to…”
“Shoulds” don’t allow us to choose what we want to do. They guilt us into doing it. By replacing “I should…” with “I choose to…”, we are empowering ourselves and reminding ourselves that we are always at choice.
What do you choose to do today?
Manuela loves helping professional women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives! Visit Manuela’s Website for Professional Life Coaching and check our her upcoming “Be Yourself, Honor Yourself, Stand Up for Yourself” workshop!