Saying this word is taking away your power

I recently read that you should stop saying should. (Yes, I realize the irony in that sentence.) I don’t remember where I read it and a Google search yielded lots of results, so I apologize for not giving the appropriate credit.

It got me thinking about ahimsa. Ahimsa is one of those yoga terms many people know. It’s not quite “Namaste” status but it’s getting there. 

Ahimsa is commonly translated as “do no harm” or “nonviolence.” The word violence connotes physical harm. When we think of ahimsa, we often think about physical harm to someone else. So on the surface, you might think ahimsa just means that yogis are anti-war and often vegan (since eating animals can be seen as violent).

But ahimsa is more than that.

Violence can also take a mental or emotional form. And it’s not just inflicted on others, it can be self-inflicted — like the harm you self-inflict when you allow the seed of violence within guilt, shame and resentment to seep in.

The word “should” can plant those seeds of guilt, shame and resentment.

I should lose weight.
I should wake up earlier.
I should be a better wife.

Once those seeds are planted we keep watering them with negative self-talk ... and before we know it we have a giant weed of self-hate that needs to be killed at its roots.

We want things. We’re human. And seeking self-improvement is noble. However, a simple word swap can transform those sentences from ones that tear you down and make you feel inferior, guilty, etc. to ones that empower you to make a positive change.

I could lose weight.
I could wake up earlier.
I could be a better wife.

See the difference? It’s one word — literally a few letters — that has the capacity to completely change how those statements make you feel.

I’ve started putting this into practice and it’s alarming how often I say or think “should.” I “should” myself … a lot.

Becoming mindful of this and replacing “should” with “could” has made a bigger difference than I expected. Rather than feeling obligated to do something (and guilty when I don’t), I feel like it’s my choice to do something, and it’s empowering.

Saying you “should” do something is like putting weight on your shoulders. Saying you “could” do something is like growing wings. Sure, you might succeed in flying with weight on your shoulders. But it’s a lot easier and more freeing when you’re light and have wings.

Join me. Remove “should” from your vocabulary to practice ahimsa and empower yourself to fly. Not because you should. Because you can.

See you in the clouds.