Attack of the Shoulds

attack of the shouldsI should read more.

I should exercise more.

I should call family and friends more.

I should push Will more in school.

I should get Jen to the skating rink more.

I should cover the gray.  I should ditch the holey Levis.  I should quit wearing Birkenstocks.  I should get a style.  I should give up on a getting a style.

I should write more and sleep more and eat better and smile more and laugh more and …


Do you ever feel like you’ve been attacked by the Shoulds?  Somewhere in the night – probably in the middle of January because of New Years’ resolutions, the doldrums that come with this gray time of year and the pressure of new beginnings – the Shoulds creep in and set up camp.

And before you realize it, you’re feeling down or agitated or irritable because you’re being told that you aren’t doing enough (or you’re doing too much) in every single facet of your life.


Where do those Shoulds come from?  Who let them in?

You certainly didn’t go looking for them. I know I didn’t.


They appear on your desktop when you fire up your laptop in the morning.  They arrive via email when a friend mentions something that happened in her world, and you make the choice to turn that thing into another of your Shoulds.

Shoulds appear on every channel of the TV, and in every song on the radio.  Shoulds pollute social media.

Don’t get me started about the Shoulds plastering the covers of every magazine in the grocery store.

They are on the billboards you pass on the way to the gym.  They are the posters at the bus stop.  They fill your kid’s Wednesday envelope.

I don’t know from first hand experience, but I suspect there are a lot of Shoulds at church.  And enough Shoulds fly out of the mouths of politicians and journalists to create a weather phenomenon.

By the end of the day, after packing around the weight of all those Shoulds, you can’t hold your head up as high as you did when you first got out of bed.


What can we do about this Attack of the Shoulds?


I don’t know what you are going to do.  Maybe you are fine with the Shoulds.  Hell, they’re better than a zombie attack.  (After almost seven years of writing on this blog, I finally wrote the word zombie.)

As for me, I’m going to put on my holiest pair of Levis, and the older pair of Birkenstocks.  (Yes, I have two pair.)  I’m not going to color my hair.  I will stand in my outdated sandals with feet apart, head held high and arms crossed in a super-hero stance (albeit, a graying, hippy super-hero) and shout, “Don’t mess with me!”

So there.


I really should find a good essential oil to give me strength.

Related Post

S.O.S. ...there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do -- determined to save the only life you could save. - Mary Oli...
You Can’t See Me Until I Do There is an undercurrent of truth seekers in the river of life. They are everywhere. Some carry backpacks full of self-help books.  Some can be seen taking a Myers-Briggs Test at the corner table in Starbucks.  Some fill yoga classes.  Some do Tai ...
Let This Be Enough In this moment, let quiet beauty be enough.
He Wears Ray Bans It turns out that he wasn't wearing a Kevlar Vest after all. She thought that was it.  She thought that was the reason that she couldn't get close to him. She was mistaken. __________ They met several more times on the playground, played so...

Tags: , , , , ,


  1. That last line, LOL.

    As someone with a lot of firsthand experience, I can tell you that there are enough shoulds at church to choke a person’s faith right out of them. That’s a big part of the reason I go to the church I do- they don’t should me. If someone tries, I know it is an individual problem and not a church problem, so I just ignore and walk away. Has only happened once in almost a decade.

    Also, if a headline says ‘should’ I automatically click away. It makes me angry.

  2. Sandy,

    Too weird… I thought of you when typing the line about church. seriously. Thanks for writing.

    Life is too damn short to be dealing with all these Shoulds.

    Be well. ;)

  3. Once long ago, when I felt like I was up to my knees in shoulds, someone told me I could choose to stop allowing myself to be should on.

  4. Pat,

    I love that. That someone was awfully wise. ;)

  5. Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) means “as above, so below”….Encourages contentment, calm, soothing stillness, compassion & peace. – See more at:

  6. Z,

    Even the name is calming. Thank you.

  7. The scent is simply beautiful and complex at the same time. This is a new one for me and so I am still learning how/when to use it. Maybe I ‘should’ make a roller to take with me and experiment for a while. Maybe I ‘should’ diffuse it in the car. My road rage has been over the top lately with the winter weather. Maybe I ‘should’ stop shoulding and do something with it. :)

  8. Z,

    Shoulds seem to add up more quickly in the winter months. At least they do for me. Not outside enough, I guess. Cabin fever doesn’t mix well with road rage! Hence my empty bottles of ‘Stress Relief’.

  9. So true! I hope the groundhog was right and spring comes early. I don’t like being crabby…and cold…

  10. Z,

    I’m with you on the crabby and cold. And many other things, too …. :)

Leave a comment