Stop should-ing all over yourself!

Are you the type of mom who thinks endlessly about all of the things you should be doing, but aren’t?

Here are some examples of shoulds I hear from moms:

  • I should be more careful about how much screen time my kids have
  • I should volunteer for this PTO event
  • I should be more on top of what my kids eat
  • I should work less/work more

Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (a form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) coined the term “should-ing all over yourself” to describe our tendency to bombard ourselves with shoulds. The more shoulding you do, the more guilty and anxious you feel.

Of course, some shoulds are rather important and cannot be taken lightly (i.e. you should not be giving booze to your two-year-old). But many shoulds are based on arbitrary standards that have little to no basis in fact. This becomes clear when you speak with other moms who have an entirely different set of shoulds than you do.

Here’s a quick way to stop should-ing all over yourself: consider the source of the should. Is it a respected medical doctor? An expert opinion on a reputable website? Your best friend who tells you she read it in some book somewhere? Some random woman’s comment on a mom website? Some lady on the street talking into her cell phone?

Once you start asking yourself where your shoulds are coming from, you’ll find that most of them have no basis in fact. Paying attention to the source of the should will help you decide which shoulds to listen to (and act on) and which to ignore.

Have some experience with should-ing all over yourself? Share your story here!

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I’m Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D., aka DrCBTMom. combines the expert advice of a self-help book with the warmth and readability of a mommy blog.
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