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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Zajdel, PhD

Should You Stop Saying Should?

Updated: Jan 1

According to, “should” means “must.”

So, when you say things like “I should win” or “I should practice more” what you’re saying is that you must win or you must practice more.

In theory that sounds pretty good – who doesn’t want to win or reap the benefits of more practice?

However, it also sounds like it could increase pressure. If you must win, what happens if you lose? You might get down on yourself, lose confidence, or feel like a failure.

Practicing more seems like it is more in your control. But what happens if you are sick or you are rained out or your coach has to cancel? The same results can occur – saying mean things to yourself or feeling like a bad athlete.

When we say “should” we are adding pressure to ourselves and make it harder to be flexible; there is no wiggle room from what we “must” do!

Instead, use options like “could” or “want.”

How does saying “I could win” or “I want to practice more” feel different?

Hopefully it feels lighter.

Keep this in mind the next time you catch yourself saying “should!”

Notice you often say should? Working on this in therapy can help!


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