I challenge each of you to pay better attention to your thoughts for just 1 hour. What you think determines what you feel every moment, every hour, every day, and so on. Take up bad habits in your thoughts and you will land yourself on an island of anxiety. Take up good habits in your thoughts and build a bridge to a land of increased freedom and improved mental health. Scientists who specialize in semantics, psychology, and the like now know more than ever that the word is very powerful. There are a few highly negative words/terms that can significantly impact our mood, especially when practiced excessively and chronically. You may be surprised to hear that a few of these words are “should”, “must”, “have to”, and “need to.“ For 1 hour, increase your focus on conscious thought and pay mind to how many times you use these words when thinking and/or talking. If it is easier, utilize the same practice but listen in to how many times someone else uses these words. Psychologically, these words/phrases communicate the lack of choice and a rigid expectation to ourselves and others. Essentially they are high demanding and promoters of bad mental health.
- Using the word “must” in language is at the core of irrational thinking as you are imposing rigid expectations on yourself and others.
- Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Therapy, focused on the dangers of the excessive use of the word “must.” He stated that the excessive use resulted in the tendency to awfulize, terribilize, catastrophize, and put yourself down. If you only stuck with, “I’d like very much to do well, but I never have to,” you wouldn’t then disturb yourself.” ~Albert Ellis
- Demanding ourselves and our behavior to be perfect via “should,“ “must,“ and “have to” is bad for mental health.
- The excessive use of these words is the underlying base for conflict, health problems, and poor performance.
So what are the alternatives? Bottom line is you always have a CHOICE in life. Choice is the unique quality gifted to you as a human that serves as a blessing or a curse depending on your use of this endowment. Replacing “should,“ “must,“ “have to,” and “need to” with “want to,” “preferable to,“ and “beneficial to” will significantly alter your tendency to self-disturb and improve mental health, relationships, performance, and self-worth. Don’t believe me ~ TRY IT. It changed my life and my clients that practice this love it.
“People don’t just get upset. They contribute to their upsetness.”
“If you didn’t musterbate, then you wouldn’t awfulize, terribilize, catastrophize, say “I can’t stand it,” and put yourself down. If you only stuck with, “I’d like very much to do well, but I never have to,” you wouldn’t then disturb yourself.”