By:  Janette Dalgliesh

There’s a word I hear in the mouths and minds of women from all walks of life, every single day, almost without exception.

I still use this word myself, until I notice I’m doing it and change it. That’s how deeply the habit is ingrained. I may even (shock!) have heard Lisa use it.

This word is not our friend, especially when we point it at ourselves. It can have us tangled up in all kinds of internal pressures. But it’s a word most women have been trained to use, to the point where even as we become more enlightened and empowered, we still use it regularly.

It’s such a small word, but it packs a huge punch.

It’s the word SHOULD.

Every time we say or think it about ourselves, we create internal stress and judgement, tying ourselves up in knots. And it shows up in so many ways:

  • I should write that newsletter
  • I should hug my hubby more
  • I should give up chocolate
  • I should meditate more
  • I should take up jogging
  • I should be better at self-love (ouch)

Not one of these sentences is inspiring and juicy. We’re not going to find any joy there, and it’s rarely the path to a good result.

And – to be clear – the word ‘should’ is pretty much interchangeable with the phrases “ought to” and “need to”. So don’t think you can get away with those phrases and still be in a high-vibing, self-loving, aligned place!

But here’s what’s great about ‘should’. It has a much friendlier cousin, a word which opens all kinds of possibilities and gives us back our power.

It’s the word COULD. For example:

  • I could write that newsletter with ease, if I make it a short, sweet love-note
  • I could hug my hubby more, when it feels good to do so
  • I could give up chocolate, but I choose not to (I’m not silly!)
  • I could meditate more; or I could decide that what I do already is enough
  • I could take up jogging, but I’ve never liked it, so I won’t; but I could take up dancing instead!
  • I could get better at self-love, by merely letting it be so

See how much lighter that feels? See how that lets us reclaim our power to choose?

And sometimes, I forget that I know all this. So here’s my plan.

I’m consciously dropping SHOULD, from my mouth and my mind, for the next 30 days. I’ve done it before, and it’s incredibly rewarding. And at this time of year, when the stores and social media and magazines are all FULL of stories that trigger the ‘should’s…. what a great time to build my ‘could’ muscle. Imagine how amazing my New Year intention-setting will be if I’ve dropped the habit of ‘should’. Imagine how much I’ll be able to relax into a stress-free holiday period without ‘should’!

Why, thank you, guest chef for the Giant Supermarket Chain… I COULD buy that monster turkey and spend an entire day sweating over it. But I’d rather grab a cold cooked lobster, a dozen oysters, a jar of gourmet seafood sauce and a bottle of champagne to share with my beloved.

And yes, my dear family…. I COULD twist myself into knots to fly two states away and make it home for Christmas. But I’d much rather catch up with you all when flights are cheap and weather’s more friendly, so we can spend a leisurely afternoon chatting over pizza and beers while the kids play in the pool.

The brain science shows clearly that dropping ‘should’ opens up new horizons of possibility all over the place. Sometimes it even dissolves barriers and mis-alignments that we didn’t even know were there.

I invite you to join me if you like – not because I think you SHOULD (see what I did there?), but because I love the idea of a fellow traveller – and I suspect that a truly Charismatic Woman knows to her bones that ‘should’ has no place in her world.

Obligation, begone. Pressure, farewell.

Freedom, welcome!

PS – if you’d like to come and play with my end-of-2014 Dropping Should project, you’ll find us hanging out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/540336969338293/

Click on the ‘ask to join’ button and I’ll happily invite you in.