Stop 'shoulding' all over yourself and others

The wise words of Louise Hay in her 2015 Calendar

The wise words of Louise Hay in her 2015 Calendar

At this time of year, everyone starts to get extra busy, and extra stressed. While yoga and meditation are excellent ways to deal with stress, they sometimes aren't enough for the extra pressures of school holidays, christmas and new year mixed with visiting family, over-eating and drinking plus the heat.

But yoga and meditation have allowed me to step back a little. To reduce the expectations I would have on myself compared to previous years. To reduce the expectations I have of others, whether they be family, friends, colleagues or over-worked retail staff. I've stopped shoulding all over myself and others. At least, I don't do it near as much as I used to. 

So what is 'shoulding' all over oneself or others?

"I should..."

These words carry a weight. A sigh. An expectation. A heaviness that we fight.

"You should..."

These words place a weight on another. Your expectation of another. A heaviness that the other person didn't expect, or ask for.

Coming into this busy time of the year, people tend to clash more. Clash more with family, friends, colleagues and strangers. You might like to try putting the 'shoulding' aside to take pressure off yourself and others.

Yoga and meditation will help you deal with stress.

Yoga and meditation helped remove my need to have expectations. Once I realised how much I was shoulding on myself and others, yoga and meditation helped me realise it was ok to just let others be. When expectations change, stressors are removed. Less stress for yourself about yourself and about others. Less stress for others about themselves and from us.

Words have so much power. Why do we pressure ourselves and others with our choice of words?

As the calendar page above from Louise Hay shows, but using the word 'should' we make the other person and/or ourselves wrong. Wrong in their current situation. Wrong with current decisions. Or past ones if we use 'should have'.

Using 'should' for advice is different - "Oh, you're going to Brisbane? If you have time, you should go to the Sunshine Coast - it's so beautiful."

"But I'm just giving advice!" I hear you say.

Advice is asked for. A cry of "What should I do?" will proceed an opportunity for you to say 'You should..." to someone. Otherwise it is unsolicited advice. An annoyance at best. Over-whelming, depressing, identity crushing for the recipient at worst.

When speaking to others, think of it as if you're speaking to yourself.

Generally, if we use "I should..." with ourselves, it's for something we don't want to do. Something we do begrudgingly. Without enthusiasm. Without a smile.

How about changing your word choice. making them work for you. Allowing you to be happier with the things in your life that need to be done, within a certain time frame.

  • "I'll do it now"
  • "Let's get X done"
  • "By doing X, I'll free up the rest of the day/week/holidays"

Even if you're not happy about it, try to smile, as you think of it being completed. This TEDTalk by Amy Cuddy discusses about the biochemical benefits of 'faking it, til you make it' with happiness and confidence. If you stand confidently, you reduce the stress hormones in your bloodstream. By gripping a pen in your mouth making a fake smile, you start to feel happier.

Then, for the other people in your life, whether friends, family, colleagues or acquaintances, how can you make their lives easier? Does making them wrong by 'shoulding' on them make their decisions more easily? Does adding more to the pile of things they are thinking about help them?

We don't know what others are thinking, or experiencing. Maybe I tell everyone everything, so I assume I know what the other person is thinking. Maybe I know what the other person is thinking, but don't know how it is affecting their stress levels and mental state. Assuming I know what is best for another adult is arrogant and controlling.

I don't want to be arrogant and controlling. So I have been doing my best to avoid shoulding all over others.

If someone appears to be going through a tough time, I'm trying to ask:

  • Is there anything I can do to help?
  • Would you like me to do anything?
  • These are the skills/resources I have to offer. If any of them will help, please let me know.
  • I know someone who has been through that. If you'd like to talk to them, let me know and I'll see if they are interested.

Then let it go. They will ask for help if they decide that is the best thing for them.

Offer all the help you can provide, without pushing it on the other person.

Be open.


Listen, so that listening is the only focus. Not formulating answers. Not remembering an anecdote. Just listening.

We can't be busting to offer help in such a way that we don't let the other person explain what they want or need. We can't assume that because we think something is great, it is the best things for the other person. It may be. But that is not our decision.

Everyone is different. So their interactions with even the same things and people will be different from our own.

See how you go this year through the craziness. Take notes. Then come along to yoga and meditation next year to compare how you do next year after all that yoga and meditation. You'll be right wherever you end up as long as you've managed to reduce the amount of shoulding you do to yourself and others.

Have a wonderful Xmas and New Year break

We will be closed from December 25th-January 1st.

Yoga classes start again on Saturday January 2nd.

We are around though, so if you do something nasty to your back with your new toys, emergency massages can be arranged. Contact Ryo on 0431 742 912.