Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself – Removing Barrriers to Weight Loss

I should lose weight. I should eat better. I should exercise. He or she should do that. Sound familiar? We use the word should quite a bit. Should is an off-limits word in my office because it is dangerous. When we use the word should, we create an expectation. This is mostly unconscious. We usually create expectations for ourselves out of a sense of obligation which really sets us up to feel like a failure and continue the cycle of self-sabotage. I should exercise and because I choose not to, I am a lazy slob.

I think on some level, this misguided thinking is meant to motivate ourselves. Really motivating right? We use this logic with other people as well. My spouse should be better with money. We create an expectation for the other person and feel angry and resentful when they don’t follow through. This really sets us up for disappointment in our relationships and when we are trying to accomplish goals around weight loss. This is especially dangerous when we don’t communicate our expectations or do so in an aggressive manner. That will definitely help them to meet our expectations! So, what do we do about this? Stop shoulding on yourself and others. Instead, change the language you use.

Instead of saying you should eat more healthfully, identify what eating a healthy and balanced diet would do for you. Explore how your life would be different if you made changes. Then make changes because you want to, not because you feel obligated. The difference can be very empowering and you would be surprised how much easier it will make for goals like weight loss. When it comes to others, instead of saying your spouse should do something, identify how you could effectively communicate what you would like them to do, but recognize that they may not be able to meet your expectations. These simple shifts really take off a lot of pressure. When we create these expectations, we really set ourselves up for disappointment. In essence, we do this to ourselves which can create a tremendous amount of emotional distress. By letting go of the expectations, it doesn’t mean that we cannot strive to change lifestyle behaviors and it doesn’t mean that we can’t get what we need from other people, but it can reduce self-loathing and conflict. When we remove that as a barrier, we are able to accomplish our goals like weight loss, healthy eating and physical activity.

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.
Michelle Lewis

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3 Responses to Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself – Removing Barrriers to Weight Loss

  1. justmendp December 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Great article Michelle! I was guilt of all that you say here until I made a conscience decision to embark on a nutritional-cleansing system to change my mind, body, and spirit. this is a holistic approach to achieving optimal mind, body, balance which achieve my weight-loss goals while reducing the stress in my life. Stress is a killer by itself and yet we all “add to our stress levels” through self-sabotage everyday. I hope many people read your writing because it truly is a GREAT way to help identify what is important and not to get caught up in self-limiting self. CHEERS TO A BLISSFUL HOLIDAY AND REACHING OUR BEST IN THE NEW YEAR!

  2. Hollie Fosnaught December 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Love your article. I imagine the same stress is applied to us when setting weight loss goals (e.g., exercise 30minutes on certain days 60 on the opposite days). Once we get caught up in the stress of performing the goals we may begin to procrastinate. The goals become chores and who likes to do chores? We make the goal a non reality. If we were to look at exercise as something fun we like to do, without the pressures of time constraints or beating personal bests, it might be easier to accomplish.

    Hollie Fosnaught

    • Michelle Lewis December 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

      Very true Hollie! Thank you for your comments!

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