Column: Stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself
Live Well

Column: Stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself

Do you think in shoulds? As in, I should feel happier about my friend’s success. Or, I should be more understanding about my spouse’s job loss. Or, I shouldn’t feel so resentful that my parents need so much of my time.

If you tend to judge your feelings, stop. Feeling a wide range of emotions is part of being human. Whether it’s sadness, anger or regret you are feeling, it’s normal. However, judging how you feel is not the way to find fulfillment and nor is it the way to age gracefully.

For every high there is a low, and what makes the lows “bad” is when you judge it to be so. Here’s how to make a helpful shift:

1. Notice when you judge your feelings. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much we are doing it. Start by being mindful of your negative inner voice. Identify where you think you should be feeling differently about a particular person or situation.

2. Accept how you feel. It’s OK to not be happy about your friend’s success because you feel she doesn’t deserve it. It’s OK to feel angry about your spouse’s job loss because you have to work harder. It’s OK to feel resentful about having to do things for your parents because they don’t appreciate it.

3. Be your own best friend. Practice shifting your focus. Notice the self-judgment, but instead of getting down on yourself for not being a “better person” and feeling differently, cut yourself some slack.

Give yourself permission to be a human being. It’s not the emotions themselves that are bad, it’s your judgment of those emotions that make it so hard.


Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit YourHappinessU.com.


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