Several years ago, when I hit a really rough patch in my life, I began to go and see a counselor on a regular basis. I still do that, by the way, and that’s been such an enormous help to me. One thing in particular in the early days of doing that really stuck with me, made a big impact, and I still think about it in little bits and pieces every single day. I thought I’d share it with you.
Here’s what it was: In one of the initial sessions when I was talking with her, she said “May I make an observation?”
I said, “Of course.”
She said, “Kevin, I notice that when you’re talking about yourself and your experience that you’re using the word ‘should’ a lot, and not in a sense that makes me concerned about procrastination, putting things off or not taking care of your responsibilities, but in a way that sounds really judgmental and self critical.” She said, “I’m wondering, with the number of times that you use that word – ‘should’ – in judgment of yourself just talking to me, how much you might be saying that to yourself just even in your thoughts that you might not even be aware of every single day.”
She asked me to start to pay attention to what I was saying to myself on a regular basis.
That was transformative for me. I can see now that I needed somebody else to be able to shine a light on that idea and when I started to really pay attention to what I was saying to myself, about myself, I realized that it was a whole pile of ‘should’ that I didn’t even know was there.
My point is this: Life is going to be challenging enough. Let’s not make it even more difficult by “shoulding” all over ourselves.
Comments: What’s Your Inner Critic Saying?
What’s an example of something unhelpful you sometimes catch yourself saying … to yourself? What are you doing to re-script it into something positive? What results are you seeing? Please add your thoughts to the Comments Section, below. I’d love to hear from you.