Skip to Content

I Should, Shouldn’t I? Maybe Not.

Oh how we can relate! Those voices in our heads, telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing…all day long. Jenny Kanevsky is determined to stop hearing them and be a little kinder to herself. Read more from Jenny on her blog.


The word “should” should be taken out of the dictionary. Or, at least designated as a four-letter word despite itsI whopping six letters. I find myself often, and unpleasantly, at war with “should” and I am tired of it. It’s my own fault. I know I “shouldn’t” beat myself up so much, I “should” do this,  I “should” do that. It’s hard isn’t it? I’m not the first to call “should” to the carpet and I won’t be the last. But I will try to understand why, at least for me, this word is so hard to get away from.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 1.19.34 PM

I hold myself to incredibly high standards when it comes to, well, many things. Being a mother, a woman, a wife, a writer, a human being and member of a larger community. It’s a big responsibility. Especially when I keep falling short of my “shoulds.” What are they, you ask? Well, there are a number of familiar ones such as “I should make better and more creative dinners for my family.” Or, “I should write more, with more discipline, with a better schedule, using better words.” Or, “I should be more attentive to my husband, ask less of him, give more to him, somehow be better for him.” Or, “I should recycle more, give more to charity, walk rather than drive, give up my parking spot, flip people off less in traffic.” See, it’s endless.

So, this tendency to continually fall short of my own expectations means, quite simply, my expectations are too high. No one is out there measuring me, counting how many words I write daily, checking my meals for percentage of organic ingredients, reporting me to the peanut butter and jelly police because my kids are going to OD. (They love it by the way, what they don’t love is a cranky mommy.) There are two problems with my expectations. One, they are too high, and two, they often don’t correspond to what’s really important. It’s time for a change. I suppose I could do (or not do) all of those “shoulds.”

I could also be OK with what I do and realize that I am doing the best I can with what I have in the moment. I’m a good person. I’m a great person, but by what definition? Really, at the end of the day, I have to account only to myself. My family loves me and accepts me, as do my friends. I know if I screw up badly enough in any one area of my life, it’ll come back at me somehow. So, let’s take that out of the equation, because I don’t see myself committing a crime or adultery or flipping off a guy with a gun and getting shot. Rather, it’s time to I work on being OK with who I am, what I do and when I do it. I really should, don’t you think?

Jenny Kanevsky

Jenny Kanevsky lives in Austin, Texas with her two sons, three cats and one bearded dragon. She is the author of Chosen Quarry, a mystery set in her hometown of Philadelphia. Her personal blog, IN OTHER WORDS, covers a range of topics from body image to comedy, marriage, motherhood, music, and personal growth. Follow her on Twitter @jennykanevsky.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus


Sunday 7th of December 2014

I loved your piece of should's. Hell of a world living with should. A life w/o should's is more peaceful, slower, and tuned to your heart more than your head. That is my experience anyway. Your blog reminded me of loving yourself and all that you do or don't do because all that is YOU. Perfect just the way you are. \I'm a fan.


Jenny Kanevsky

Wednesday 3rd of December 2014

Thank you for reading and commenting. It's a tough word to get rid of but important to listen to how we use it. I still hear it come out of my mouth, to myself, my kids, and really try to substitute something less demanding or controlling. Makes a big difference!


Tuesday 2nd of December 2014

Years ago, I was in a week-long group training; each group had specific tasks and timelines, and then periodically we had to stop and assess each other and ourselves. At one point, a very dear woman noted to me, "The only thing about you that's not wonderful is that you sometimes use 'should' too much. It feels like you're being bossy."

She was right. I was trying to get us to get stuff done, but she was right. And the same applies in our personal lives: we shouldn't be bossy with ourselves.


Tuesday 2nd of December 2014

Too cute! Yes, let's take it out of the dictionary.

Comments are closed.
Read previous post:
Low Testosterone, Low Libido and Fuzzy Brain

Menopause can be such a challenge. There’s the whole “fuzzy brain” scenario—you know, that “where is my car/my purse/my mind”...