Tricia Huffman is a mental health and mindset expert we’ve loved for years. In her new book, F the Shoulds. Do the Wants, you’ll find a clear distillation of the empowering message she’s been inspiring her high-profile clients with for a long time.
Tricia’s personal journey and mindset work have everything to do with eliminating the word “should”. Here’s why she believes that eliminating just one word from your vocabulary could change your life…
You may not think so, but the truth is you are very likely living a life full of “shoulds” — big and small every single day.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar:
+ I should have woken up earlier.
+ I shouldn’t be on my phone yet.
+ I should be able to fit into this dress.
+ I should be able to focus better when I meditate.
+ I shouldn’t have said yes to meeting up today.
All of these “shoulds” add up and weigh on us daily. Your shoulds might come in the form of jealousy and comparison—feeling that you should have something or that they shouldn’t. Maybe these comparisons have you feeling that you should be further along in your life.
Shoulds can also look like shame, guilt or regret, feeling that you should have done things differently or you should have known better.
Once you start to tune into your thoughts and feelings around this often used word in our modern day vocabulary, you will discover they are sucking the joy right out of you.
At one point in my life, I was the last person that I thought lived a life of “shoulds.” I was living out my biggest dream as a live sound engineer touring the world with international icons. And when I wasn’t being paid to crisscross the world on tour, I did it on my own. Time off in March meant a yoga retreat in Bali. Down dates in December led to backpacking in Costa Rica. I loved my life and I lived it my way. I didn’t “should” on myself. Or so I thought—until the news of my father’s sudden passing changed my life forever.
I was about to leave for another world tour starting in Australia when I got the news that my dad had been found dead. He was 58 and healthy.
I was so shaken up by this sudden loss that after a few weeks of sobbing behind my sound console on tour I chose to quit not just the tour, but my career in sound, period. I had no idea what I would do next, but I wanted to shake everyone I passed on the street and yell to them, “Wake up! Your life could end today! Live your life. Be alive in your life!”
I felt deep in my bones that I had to wake people up to reclaim the joy in their lives and not let life pass them by. And I had received an internal message telling me to kick the word should out of my life completely.
Prior to this life-altering moment in my life, I did not think of myself as someone who lived a life of “shoulds”, but I soon realized just how much I had been “shoulding” on myself all day long!
From morning to night, I was catching myself…
+ I should get out of bed.
+ I should do yoga.
+ I should have gone to bed earlier.
+ What should I eat for breakfast?
+ I shouldn’t be drinking coffee. I should have tea.
+ I shouldn’t have eaten that.
+ What should I do next?
I was shocked by how often the word, the thought and the feeling came up for me! I realized very quickly that if I wanted to truly kick the word out of my vocabulary, I had to find another word to replace it. After some experimenting, the word that I landed on was WANT. And holy shi(f)t what a difference did that one word swap make!
Moving From From ‘Should’ To ‘Want’
By making an intentional shift from the word “should” to the word “want,” I quickly gained premium self-awareness and a deepened connection to myself.
I was no longer unconsciously defaulting to the shoulds that were ingrained in my way of living. Instead, by using the word “want” I learned to question my own choices, get clear about what I wanted and what motivated me.
Instead of looking outside of myself for the answers, I learned to continually return to myself with the simple, yet powerful question: What do I want?
By consistently making this word swap from should to want, I uncover my thoughts, beliefs and true motives more clearly. Instead of being weighed down by the doubts, fears, shame, guilt, and not-enough stories I had been telling myself — “shoulding” all over myself — I can now meet myself with compassion as I ask, “Do I really want to believe these things?”
This simple practice connects me deeply to my intuition, allowing me to fully listen to, trust and believe in myself. It guides me in saying no to things that I don’t want to do without guilt and to release old patterns and ideas about who I was and what I should do, be, or say.
This simple practice leads me to set boundaries and cut out procrastination. I feel more empowered to take action in my own daily life to claim my joy and purpose.
It’s likely that — just like me — you don’t even realize how often you use the word should because it’s so embedded into our language. The truth is that this one habitually used keyword can lock you in a state of doubt, fear, comparison and self-judgment all day long. By unconsciously over-using this one word, you may carry a weight of disappointment, shame, guilt that is not necessary for you to carry. Should-ing will keep you outsourcing ALL of your life choices, big and small.
Living a life of shoulds keeps us chasing the feelings of being enough, seeking validation from the outside world, instead of from within.
Shoulds put your self-worth outside of you. By reframing your thoughts and intentions with the word “want” you come back home to you.
Should may just be a six-letter word, but words matter. Our daily choices matter. The little things matter. By shifting just one word, we become more conscious of the everyday choices available to us.
Explore this life hack fully and read F The Shoulds. Do The Wants. Get Clear On Who You Are, What You Want, And Why You Want It. Join Tricia via the Claim it! Podcast, Your Joyologist product line, and the Own Your Awesome daily inspiration App.