The Should Word and Blaming: Surely There’s a Better Way

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Telling anyone off often involves using “should”, but there are healthier ways of expressing yourself.

Compared to animals, it’s clear that we take communication to a whole new dimension. Using “should” impacts anger and, therefore, relationships, which means it’s worth taking a closer look.

We experience life on different levels simultaneously, and it seems we like to simplify this. For example, it’s common practice to pigeonhole people or things into categories: those we like and those we don’t. Another example is the shortening of sentences and words heard in local dialects.

For one, in South Yorkshire, we often miss out on using the word “the”. We might say, “turn t’TV on.” We don’t even say “please” when talking to our family or close friends.

The trouble occurs when we misuse language when talking about somebody. Suppose we mean “He is being silly”, but actually say, “He is silly”. The meaning is very different, but I hear examples of the latter often, making me wonder if I am in the company of judgmental people.

Meanings Behind the Should Word

Just as our thoughts often have emotions attached to them, the same with words and meanings. For example, if you say to someone, “You should have done better”, the implication is that they have failed to achieve the desired result or perhaps didn’t try hard enough.

There’s an opportunity for blaming and anger if ever there was.

It’s far kinder to say nothing at all, as most people would be mortified by criticism.

If, on the other hand, you were talking to yourself, instead, you could say, “Next time I will try another way”, or “Next time I would like to do better”. Then, you wouldn’t feel the sting of self-admonishment. Do you see?

Roles in Anxiety and Anger Issues

It’s fair to say that anxious people will likely blame themselves by using the “should” word in their self-talk. You can guess that when you use this word along with oneself in the third person, things like “you should have done …” will give a feeling of telling oneself off.

Likewise, an angry person will use a similar way of speaking to tell another person off, even if it’s shouting at the TV when MPs say disagreeable things. Or, again, perhaps a conversation that isn’t spoken out loud but reinforces feelings of powerlessness to change anything.

If either of the above describes you, changing your self-talk language may reduce your anxiety because there will be more room for compassion – towards yourself and others too.

Proper Use of Language

Taking time to think about what we really intend to communicate, it’s clear that you can express yourself more accurately. That can also reduce the opportunities for the maintenance of anxiety or anger.

Isn’t that a good thing?

After all, the people we hold dearest deserve to know what we’re honestly thinking. Furthermore, as a member of the BACP, I adhere to their Ethical Framework, which includes promoting better relationships and more empathy and understanding.

If you’re affected by misunderstandings in your primary relationships and wish to calm anxiety or anger, try these tips, and think about contacting me for a free chat. It might change your life for good!

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

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