Please don’t say, “You Should…”

Ban "Should" from your vocabulary.

Don't say "You Should."

“You should…” is the last thing you want or should have to hear from friends and family during a difficult season.

Yet when our lives are in chaos because of the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, a lost job, or a serious illness, it seems to be the natural reaction of those well-meaning folks who want to help us.  You see, it’s part of the faulty co-dependent gene that most of us have floating around inside us that makes us feel like it’s our duty to fix people.

But as this quote from Louise Hay says perfectly, the “You should” statements are extremely harmful — not helpful.

“You see, I believe that should is one of the most damaging words in our language. Every time we use should, we are, in effect, saying “wrong.” Either we are wrong or we were wrong or we are going to be wrong. I don’t think we need more wrong in our life.”

When we’re in difficult seasons, our lives are dominated by chaos and grief.  We’re simply not capable of accepting and acting on coaching or advice.  And that’s especially so when when the coaching or advice  points out that we are not handling things the way someone else thinks we should.  It just makes us feel worse.  Less adequate.  Less able to cope.

When you’re in a difficult season, you’re just trying to cope, to put one foot in front of the other, to get through it.

What you need and want is someone to be a quiet affirming presence in your life.  Someone to listen.  Someone who is interested in what it’s like to be in your shoes today.  Someone who intuitively knows what you need and provides it.

What you don’t need is someone who wants to fix you.  Someone who is uncomfortable with your pain and justs wants you to “be normal again.”  Someone who’s quick with the “You shoulds.”

So please, don’t say “You should…”  Do say, “I love you.”  Do say, “I care.”  Do say, “I’m here to listen if you want to talk, otherwise I’ll just hang out with you.”

Thanks to JJ Lassberg (@jj4tlr) for using the quote in her blog post yesterday which prompted this post!
  1. JJ Lassberg says:

    Jim,

    A friend of mine and I were just talking the other day about the word should… and I remembered the funny and poignant “Don’t You Should On Me” video I posted to my blog. I love you in your post where you write do say “I love you.” I know for myself when I connect to the fact that I love the person I am sharing with, I remember that they are lovable and acceptable just right where they are. Then it is easier for me to say, “are you open to feedback” and “my suggestion would be” or “what I did when I way in a similar situation is…” And if they say, “No, I am not open to feedback.” – when I am connected to them from a loving space I can honor that for the time they just want me to listen and this may the most loving thing anyone has done for them in good long while.

    Thank you for you post. It still as important today as it was when you wrote it.

  1. [...] Vote Difficult Seasons » Please don’t say, “You Should…” [...]

  2. [...] You see, I believe that should is one of the most damaging words in our language. Every time we use should, we are, in effect, saying “wrong.” Either we are wrong or we were wrong or we are going to be wrong. I don’t think we need more wrong in our life. — Louise Hay, quoted by Jim Hughes [...]

  3. [...] wrong or we are going to be wrong. I don’t think we need more wrong in our life. — Louise Hay, quoted by Jim Hughes ~Jeri Danksy at [...]

  4. [...] You see, I believe that should is one of the most damaging words in our language. Every time we use should, we are, in effect, saying “wrong.” Either we are wrong or we were wrong or we are going to be wrong. I don’t think we need more wrong in our life. — Louise Hay, quoted by Jim Hughes [...]