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a woman staring in a mirror illustrating should statements in psychology

What are Should Statements in Psychology?

a woman staring in a mirror illustrating should statements in psychology

In psychology, should statements are defined by the common thinking pattern of “I should be XYZ.” This unrealistic cognitive framework can often lead people to be easily upset, disappointed, or even prone to depression when things don’t go exactly as their expectations deem fit. Not only can it be characterized by other people disappointing the person with this way of thinking, but it can also lead to a constant feeling of never being good enough.

The Sneaky “Shoulds”: How They Creep into Our Thoughts

In the realm of psychology, “shoulds” are like pesky mosquitoes buzzing around our heads, making us feel guilty and disappointed when we don’t meet the expectations they impose. They’re tricky little critters that can leave us feeling inadequate, even when we’re doing our best.

Beware of the Should Statements

“Should statements” are the cunning cousins of “shoulds,” causing self-doubt and fear. They’re a form of cognitive distortion that sets up an unhealthy binary perception, often leading to stress and other mental health issues. Watch out for their partners in crime, the “must” and “ought” words!

Examples of Should Statements

These crafty statements can sneak into all corners of life:

  • “I must finish the project tonight, or else XYZ.”
  • “I should be going to the gym more.”
  • “I should be eating better.”
  • “I should have woken up earlier.”
  • “I should be doing more work instead of playing a game while taking a short break to write this brief article about the term shoulds.”

Although they might seem harmless, they carry dangerous potential, making people feel frustrated when they don’t fulfill the expectations set by these statements.

Reframing Our Thoughts

Breaking free from “should statements” can be challenging, as they often disguise themselves as everyday thoughts. To catch them in the act:

  1. Listen carefully to the words you say or think.
  2. Write down any “should statements” you notice.
  3. Reflect on the emotions and pressures these statements create.

Once you’ve captured the sneaky “shoulds,” reframe them with more realistic language. For example, instead of saying, “I must study tonight,” try, “I would like to study more and am working hard to do just that with a reasonable approach.” Remember, don’t let these negative thoughts control your life. Happy thought-hunting!

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