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.
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.
However, some of us add in more SHOULDs than are good for us. Some of us see SHOULDs where COULDs should be.
Worse, some people like to try and wrongly impose their SHOULDs on others.
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.
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.
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.