Take a Stand, Make a Choice.

December 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again, when we think about what we “should” do for the holidays and the new year. We “Should” visit our family, we “Should” exercise more, we “Should” eat healthy (and less!). Hmmm.

A nicely framed saying on an office wall caught my eye many (many!) years ago. It said:

I Will Not Should Myself Today.

I saw it, I paused, I liked it, and in the true tradition of the quirky human brain, I said:

That’s great! I Should remember that.

The woman whose office it was just looked at me and waited. Waited for me to hear what I had just said. In that moment I realized that I needed… nay, we ALL need, a new vocabulary to replace the pointless Should.

Why pointless? In that moment in that office, I began to redefine the word should in the way it is most often used. I define it thus:

SHOULD — to recognize that others may desire an action of you, or that it would benefit you in some way, and also to realize that you will not pursue that action because you really don’t want to, and to also plan to feel guilty about that. So, once I added guilt to the very definition of the word Should, it changed my perspective forever.

No More Shoulds!

It is pointless to make a choice to feel bad about not doing something you don’t really want to do anyway! Think about it, if you really wanted to do it you wouldn’t be using the word Should in the first place, now would you?

Instead, try this: make your choice to do, or not do something. “Yes, I will do that,” or “No I will not do that.” Make your choice consciously and willingly. Then, and this is the key, stand by your choice and know it was the right one for you. Take ownership of your choice. Take responsibility for your choice. It’s a great and empowering feeling. Once you get used to it (and I hope it’s very quickly) you will find this new vocabulary very freeing.

No Guilt. None. Nada.

To paraphrase the great Yoda, “Do or Do Not. There is No Should!”

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Kick your own But!

October 7, 2008 § Leave a comment

In the previous post we considered the benefits of shedding our shoulds.

Next is what I call “Kicking your But.”

When you say but, as in “I really appreciate your offer BUT I don’t need any help with this project,” everything that comes before the BUT is entirely negated. It is as if you never said it, or at least, you didn’t really mean it.

The word BUT eradicates all that came before it, leaving only the idea after it. This, too, we’ll explore again, so for now consider this:

In Improvisation actors learn to use AND to accept and build on what their partner says. Improv won’t work if the actors try to negate what each other says, they have to accept it and move the entire idea forward.

I’d say that’s a pretty good template for life, don’t you think? Accept what happens and then work to build on it, to improve it however you can. There are always two choices in life: we can choose to be negative or we can choose to be positive. It is entirely your own choice.

By choosing the positive path–choosing to use words that build and set in your mind ideas that foster behaviour that leads to action that is in a positive direction–you are choosing to turn your life toward your goals and toward your dreams and move full steam ahead!

You WILL find things go more smoothly in most cases, AND it can have interesting effects on the people around you.

So, all together now, repeat after me:

Let’s Kick Some BUT!

Words to live by.

October 2, 2008 § Leave a comment

For many years I have been teaching, talking, training and writing about language, words and how the choices you make with them can affect your life. I have developed a model for the cycle we go through when we reach out to each other with words, and I’ll explain it here in detail over the next while.

For now it is enough to know that there are words you can live quite happily without. In fact, there are words you will live much happier without. Words like “should” and “but” are the first to be gleefully excised from a visionary vocabulary.

First, let’s deal with should.

I saw a sign years ago that read:

I will not should myself today.

My first response? “I love that! I should remember that.” And therein lies lesson number one. Should can be a difficult habit to break. But, it can be done.

In order to alleviate the guilt that goes along with the shoulds, I decided to define the word in a more real-world way. I decided that Should means “I will not do it, (because I really don’t want to) and I will feel bad or guilty about it.” Now with all the other worthwhile things to do with my time, why would I ever choose to feel bad about something I obviously didn’t really want to do in the first place? After all, if I really wanted to do it, I would have found some way.

It’s like saying you’ll try to do something, instead of saying you’ll do it.

In the wise words of Master Yoda of Star Wars fame, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

And so I adapted that wisdom to include “Choose to do, or choose to do not. There is no should.” When there is an invitation, event or task I simply make my choice to do, or not. Then I accept my choice and move on.

No guilt, no bad feelings.

I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get used to the change. And while I did, I found it more and more liberating. I was free of the self-induced guilt shackles and you can be too!

So repeat after me:

I Will Not Should Myself Today!

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