While seeing a counsellor in 2006, I decided it was time to remove the word ‘should’ from my universe and start following my own dreams. For far too long, the things that others thought I ‘should’ be doing had ruled my life and had left me feeling tired and uninspired. Removing that word from my vocabulary and those who used it towards me, has set me free. I was then able to uncover my dreams and start chasing them. Then, a few months ago I noticed that word creeping back into conversations I was having with the Teen Techie. The end of year exams were fast approaching and the school’s senior management started trying to fill the boy’s heads with the schools ‘shoulds’. Then a few weeks later it was the senior boy’s parents turn, and we were bombarded with these same ‘shoulds’ in the school newsletter. As you can no doubt imagine, this newsletter was met with very colourful mutterings and then deleted from my computer. I get that in some misguided way the school was trying to motivate the boys to do well, but swamping them with ‘should’ is not the way to achieve a positive outcome.

you should



  • It sets unrealistic expectations, obligations & sense of duty
  • Induces guilt
  • Decreases the desire to do things
  • Disempowers the person it is said to
  • Doesn’t provide the space for people to make their own decisions
  • Prevents people from accepting reality
  • Instead of motivating to achieve, it makes the person feel as though they are not good enough




Next time the chatter inside your head starts up, telling you that you should be doing something. Start a new conversation, asking yourself what kind of life you want to lead and why. This is your personal philosophy and what drives you to achieve the things you do.

When talking to others; offer information and suggestions rather than stating that they should do something. Then, it is up to them what they do with that information.


Jenni XXX