Thursday, February 18, 2010

to the point

In the spring of 2008 I eliminated the word “should” from my vocabulary. It happened immediately after the death of my father. I never had a conversation with myself planning to do this. It just suddenly became important for me to not use that word, ever. I feel that using the word “should” is just setting myself up for failure and guilt. I can still say the same thing and feel better about it. For example, “What should I eat for dinner tonight?” compared with “What do I want to eat for dinner tonight?” Which one is more powerful? Maybe using the “should” warrants a big salad and what I want is pizza. Well, I feel that eliminating the “should” and putting in the “want” puts me in control and gives me the ability to choose a healthy salad or pizza and not feel guilt or to feel like I am doing something because I feel I have to. It is all my choice.

That summer, I explained to friends, family, and acquaintances about my “should” banishment. Besides the fact that I wanted others to experience this newfound freedom I also wanted to explain why I sometime spoke as if I had turrets syndrome. The word would start to come out of my mouth, I would catch it and then find a new more powerful way to say it. It made me become a more mindful speaker. I was no longer able to let things roll off my tongue without thinking about them first. I became so aware of how much “should” was a part of my regular vocabulary as well as other’s.

I felt as if I was reclaiming myself and getting rid of all of my guilt. What do I want? I should do the laundry, turned into I want to do the laundry. I explained to people that in using the word “should” it felt as if my shoulders hunched in and made me feel small. In saying, I “want” or another word my shoulders are back, chest out, and I stand tall. I wanted to put a speech and presentation together and tour high schools around the country about the word “should”. I will empower the nation!

As time went along, I was able to speak without even attempting to spit out this word. Sometimes, it is still hard for me to find a replacement for it, mainly because that means taking a more powerful stance. I can recall I few times on tour the past year when I fought with myself about using it when asking our tour manager questions. He is the head hauncho on tour and was afraid to be to upfront and blunt with my words and suggestions.

The other day during the drive to San Diego, when I just wanted to vomit everything up. I decided that I am going to eliminate all of the filler words that I have been using. Words like “think”, such as “I think that I want to stay in tonight.” From now on I am choosing to say, “I want to stay in tonight” instead (if that is what I want of course). I know what I want and what I don’t want. That word and others are just fillers to soften the blow and they take power away from me and my choices. Also, eliminating these words sets up the people that I am talking with to make more powerful choices too. For example saying, “Do you want to go to Tawney’s yoga class in Santa Monica before Gina’s pot-luck on Sunday?” Instead of saying, “Do you think you might want to go to Tawney’s yoga class in Santa Monica before Gina’s pot-luck on Sunday?” I am saying the same thing. The first example is just to the point, while the second tiptoes. I am choosing to be direct and hopefully this lets the other person be direct in their answer.

All I know is that eliminating these words makes me feel freer, more in control, and more honest.


  1. Awesome! For me it's the word "can't". I do whatever I can to not use it. I feel that people CAN do anything, and if they are unable to because of disability or whatnot, then they are unable to do ____. Can't is a gross word. Should, huh? Hrm, I'm going to try that! I know I use it a lot, ha ha! :)

  2. i love this post tricia! what a great way to empower yourself. it's funny to think that all that stands in our way is a little word, a little thought. thanks!

  3. This made me think of this. You should add it to this blog, T.

  4. Beautifully said, chica. It's amazing how little substitutions like that can have such massive impact in our lives. Our minds are such powerful machines... Good on you for helping write another entry in the users manual.


  5. Awesome post, Tricia! It is amazing how much of an impact some words can have, both positively and negatively -- how we word things really does make a huge difference in our own sense of empowerment and purpose! You've really opened my eyes to something I can do immediately do in my own life that will make a tremendous difference. Thank you for sharing this with us! Congrats on getting posted over at SuperForest!

  6. Very nice ! I'll start [trying] eliminating should's, have-to's and cant's from everyday speech, and suggest it as a challenge to others too.

    Just an note: the picture SuperForest posted with your article
    is quite similar to this one
    (probably from the same batch). You look very playful with the hoops around you ... :)

  7. Ahh friend...
    there is power in yes, and there is power in no...I too, stopped "shoulding" on myself.
    You inspired me that night on the deck...PERFECT!

    Love you everyday,

  8. Super inspiring blog. One of my favorites so far. I am super stoked already for the book you will publish someday. :)

  9. I really enjoyed the article and found it very inspiring. It also included some tips I'll try to use myself. It's really nice to come across this kind of encouraging posts every once in a while.