"I should" means that some power or judgement outside of myself deems my behavior inappropriate. I should do the dishes. I should exercise more. I should call my mother. Wouldn't it be better if our inner voices were saying, "I want to," or "I think I'll add to my list," or, maybe more honestly, "I don't really want to." When we're telling ourselves we should, we're implying that by not doing whatever thing, we're wrong. It's like saying, "If I were a good person, I would ..." (which I've also caught myself saying).
Why on earth would we want to tell ourselves that we're lacking in some way? Why add guilt to our already-struggling self images? "Should I?" tells me that yeah, I really would be better if I did that thing, but for some reason I'm stuck. I'm tired or worried or stressed and if I were a Stepford wife I wouldn't be those things and the house would look nice. Why can't I just be on top of it all? What's wrong with me?
"Don't 'should' on yourself" has become a popular phrase in the self-help arena, and I think they're on to something. How much better would we feel if we managed our self-talk? "I want to." I'm thinking about doing it." "I will do it after I've done this other thing that I want to do more." "I don't want to." "I know I'll have to soon, and I'll do it before it becomes critical, but not now." Being honest with ourselves takes the guilt and judgement out of our own thoughts. Good riddance.
I'm going to clean some of the kitchen today. All of these brownie trials have resulted in utter chaos. But I'm not going to get everything sparkling clean. I baked in the commercial kitchen last night, and today is a good day to rest my knee and not over-do. This is the honest, true message my brain and my self-image need. As tempting as it is to say "I should spend all day cleaning this poor kitchen," I choose not to go there. I'm in control. Good, bad, or indifferent, I choose. How about you?