Got a case of the “shoulds”? Try this!

Practical wisdom from your mindfulness girl, Rina.

“Most of us spend too much time ‘should-ing’ all over ourselves.” – Anonymous
“I should make sure I call her.  I should do that program. I should be over it by now.”  There are certainly times when we’ve got to get something done, but if we’re not mindful, “shoulds” can pile unnecessary energetic weight onto our daily living.

To help eradicate yourself of excess “should weight,” consider these simple mindful strategies:

  • Give yourself loving kindness. Often.  If your inner critic inhabits your mind so much that she should start chipping in for rent, simply start by being aware of her. In fact, naming your inner critic can be a helpful tool so that once you hear her – or his – voice say, “You should have started your task three weeks ago,” you simply respond back with, “Thank you, Waterlily, but I’m attending to myself at the moment.”  This may sound silly, but separating yourself from your negative thoughts is a foundational step in managing our wellbeing. (Waterlily happens to be the name that the one and only Blanche Devereaux gave her own inner voice.  Let us take a page from the late Golden Girl!).
  • Try Loving Kindness Meditation. Loving Kindness is of ancient Buddhist origin and has now been adapted for secular use and research. Consider listening to this dharma talk by Buddhist poet and mindfulness activist, Thich Nhat Hanh, in which he discusses how trust and confidence are integral to self-love.  Or consider offering yourself and others loving kindness with this 20-minute loving kindness meditation (LKM) by researcher, Dr. Kristin Neff.
  • Take a step. Any step. Ever notice how once you open a text or email message, if you don’t respond in the moment and it loses bold visibility, you forget? Often, our goals or ideas swim as blurs in our beautifully busy heads. Nebulous. Huge. Not in plain view.  Most large goals are fulfilled (and periodically revised) by starting with one of many smaller steps. To start, grab a pen or smartphone and note down the first few small tasks – no need for them to be organized chronologically! Just storm that brain! – that come to mind that you can “master” quickly.  Perhaps it’s writing an email, simply looking at a program’s website, or finally just clicking “purchase” on that blank web domain.  From a psychology standpoint, completing just one quick step might help you feel better by hearing fewer “shoulds” since you…”are!”  More often than not, any step one often sets domino effect for the rest. Read more about Achievement Goal Theory (AGT) research and how to take actionable steps in my Sonima article on navigating transitions here!


If you liked this tidbit and are hungry for more yoga and mindfulness strategies, come on over to

Your mindfulness girl,
Rina 🙂

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