My son had a sleepover last night. I went to bed around 1 in the morning. I was woken up a few times during the night. My husband said, when he woke up this morning that they had stayed up all night. Now they’re still asleep on my pull out couch.

As a result, I don’t have a lot to say this morning other than I’m checking in, journaling, and doing what I need to do. I almost said “should”. Should is a dirty word. Should is what you say when you don’t want to do something and don’t think you will do something, but you feel like you’re supposed to do it. It’s like your parent voice in your head. “You should come downstairs right now or else you won’t get dinner!” “You really shouldn’t wear that dress to school.” “You should have studied harder. Oh well, I told you so.” It’s a punishing voice, a critical voice that thinks you’ll fail. It wants you to do the right thing but doesn’t think you have the executive function skills to follow through.

Every time I say to myself, “I should lose some weight” or “I should really eat more vegetables” or “I should drink less” I’m absolutely setting myself up for failure. I don’t want to lose weight because it’s hard to do. I don’t want to eat vegetables because they aren’t as yummy as cheeseburgers and a coke. I don’t want to quit drinking because it makes me feel more relaxed and reduces my anxiety in the short term. I’m trying to think of how to reframe these statements to work for me.

OMG, I just started typing this sentence:

Instead of “I should lose some weight” I should say…


Okay, trying again…

Instead of “I should lose some weight” a healthier statement would be “Losing a few pounds would really go a long way toward improving my health. I’ll be able to wear all of my clothes again. It’ll be easier to be physically active.”

Instead of “I should really eat more vegetables” a healthier statement would be “Vegetables make me feel great. I need to incorporate them into my life more.”

Instead of “I should drink less” a healthier statement would be “Alcohol is fine in moderation. When I drink more than once a week, it really starts to affect my health. Drinking less would really make me feel better and less anxious.”

What I notice with these statements is it really forces me to be specific. It isn’t just “Oh, I should…just because.” It’s like, “This has a consequence and it’s not a good one. Here’s specifically why something is or isn’t good for me.” I think that really helps my brain wrap around what I’m doing instead of just shoving it into a hidden corner that I’ll never access again. “Should” makes me feel bad. It makes me feel out of control. Being specific and nurturing makes me feel better.

Wow, this journaling thing is really great. I sh…need to do this more often!

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