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  • Mindy McCarthy

Quit Shoulding Yourself

I heard this phrase recently and thought about how true it is.

QUIT. SHOULDING. YOURSELF.

Many times we find ourselves thinking about past events. We should have done this differently or we should have been more productive with our time or we should have gone to see a friend at a certain time instead of staying home. The thing is, though, that type of thinking leaves you stuck in the past.

While you can certainly learn from these feelings that you are having right now about how you wish you would have done something differently, you cannot change what has already happened in the past.

If you are actively in a competition, for example, and think, “I should have passed the ball to my teammates instead of taking the shot,” you get stuck in the previous play instead of thinking about how you can contribute in the moment right now. Take a moment to reflect on what you learned from that situation, but then begin to move forward instead of continuing to dwell in the past.

The same can be said for people who say these kinds of things in the present moment. For example, maybe you are relaxing on the weekend with your family and you think, “I should be doing yard work right now.” The truth is, maybe getting some relaxation time or even some quality time with your family is exactly what you need right now. It is difficult to be productive if your mind or heart aren’t really in it at the moment. You may even end up doing the yard work and think back on that time as opportunities that you “should” have spent with your family.


I think it is important to show yourself some grace, especially during these unprecedented times that we are seeing. Allow yourself some time to feel relaxed and refreshed. Give yourself another opportunity to make a better decision instead of thinking about that previous one that you can no longer control.

What are some goals that you have in the present moment and in future competitions or with your job, etc.? What are some things that you can focus on to help you reflect on the past but move forward from it without thinking about what you “should” have accomplished?

If you find yourself saying that dirty little s word, just think, “Quit shoulding yourself.”

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