Should Versus Could

Woman: You should try cutting out carbs. 2nd Woman: Or, you COULD mind your own damn business.

Isn’t COULD a great word?  I could eat some ice-cream, I could change career, I could find a rule of three to hammer home this point comically, but I don’t have to, it’s my choice.

What about SHOULD?  I should be checking my work emails.  I should eat healthier.  I should have started writing this article before 2am… 

COULD is full of possibility, whereas SHOULD is full of responsibility. 

Boss telling Mum to work smarter Mum thinks: I COULD tell him where to stick this job... But I SHOULD probably wait until I've found alternative employment.

We can’t live without SHOULD entirely, because ultimately it is just a more polite version of MUST, and as adults there are things we must do to make our lives, our relationships, and our society work. 

Little boy: I SHOULD wash my hands after using the toilet. Mum: Yes, but DID you?!

However, some of us add in more SHOULDs than are good for us.  Some of us see SHOULDs where COULDs should be. 

1st: I SHOULD have done better. 2nd: I SHOULD be stronger. 3rd in catsuit: I SHOULD be a Kardashian!

Worse, some people like to try and wrongly impose their SHOULDs on others.

Grandad: You SHOULD be more like me. Stop worrying about this Health and Safety nonsense... Grandad is wearing an eye-patch and the door handle is hanging precariously at eye-level

It’s not a problem I’ve suffered from recently, in fact many people who know me would argue that I may have dropped a few more SHOULDs than I should have – but then I take absolutely no notice of other people’s SHOULDs anymore, and I’d recommend you could try doing that too.

Grandad continues: ...but you SHOULD always put the milk in first. Grandson: Nope, it's personal preference. Also let's remove these pointy things from eye-level! (taking down dangerous door handle)

When I was younger I listened to too many SHOULDs.  I thought that I should be the same as everyone else.  I thought that I should fit in, and I thought that I should work on changing the things about me which were different to others.

People who live their lives listening to every SHOULD that they come across aren’t truly free to live their own lives, but that doesn’t mean they should do things differently, it just means that they could do things differently. 

Sad in dressing gown: I SHOULD do some exercise. Happy in jeans and trying out a hula-hoop "I COULD do some exercise".

It is quite normal and understandable to let historic SHOULDs rule your world, everyone does sometimes, but if you want to you could try a new thing too, where sometimes you replace should with could, and live life the way you choose.

4 thoughts on “Should Versus Could”

  1. I spend most of my days in should world, but it’s mostly around laundry and cleaning even when I could – I don’t. I am definitely going to think about that now every time I saw that word. Good one!

I'd love to hear your comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.