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Do you say, "I should be or do more?"

Don Jessop

Is "should" a dangerous word? 

​"I should be further along by now."
​"I should be riding by now."
​"I should do more than I'm doing."
​"I should spend more time with my horse."
​"I should know better by now."

​All of these and more, indicate that you're "wrong" somehow. I believe it's a dangerous thought to assume, you're bad or wrong. I try to avoid using the word "should," for that reason.

​Of course, it's possible there are better methods. Perhaps faster, or safer, or different methods get me further down the road, in good ways, so it's easy to assume that I don't know everything and learning is required to progress. But "I should..." may not be helping me. The first assumption I prefer making about myself and about people in general, is that we are doing the best we know how with the resources we are given.  Telling myself I should know better is a simple shaming technique in hopes of inspiring (through disgust) the motivation to progress. Disgust, as an emotion, generally doesn't inspire upward mobility. In fact, quite the opposite. It's rare that a person feels disgust and starts shaping up and reinventing themselves. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. But it's rare and you have to get to a special place where the disgust can be a catalyst for change. Usually, it has the other effect, where it spins us into cycles of anti-progress. So, when I say that the phrase, "I should" is dangerous, I mean to say, it can be dangerous and usually is.

​Ironically, if you're the type of person that uses the "I should" phrase often, you might be hearing yourself say it now. "I should stop staying 'I should.'" It's a funny loop. No worries. All you have to do is simply stop saying it. Have you ever heard someone use the sound, "um" in-between all their sentences and pauses. "I um, think that you are, um, an awesome person."  If you catch yourself saying it, just try to say it less. Just hear it and try the next sentence without it. With practice, the phrase "I should..." goes away. 

​Let me share a better phrase you could use in its place. "That sounds fun."  We can all sense that "I should" is not a commitment, it's just virtue signaling.  It's a way of saying, I like the idea of that but probably won't have time to do anything about it, so I'll file it away for later, maybe.  The phrase, "that sounds fun," or "I like the sound of that," have the same effect. It's non-committal but it doesn't have the weight of shame or disgust. It's much healthier in my opinion. It opens the possibility of being inspired to do it from the perspective of fun rather that disgust. 

​"I should go to the gym." "I should ride my horse." "I should be further than this." Instead...
​ "I think it would be fun to go to the gym." "Riding sounds fun." "It's cool to reach the next level. That sounds fun." 

​Each of the phrases solicit feelings. Positive feelings tend to help us progress in life. Negative feelings, although valuable too, tend to suck us back into the mud, especially, if they are looping behaviors like showing disgust, then looking for distractions to feel better, then making excuses, and hiding from your potential.  I hope you can see how words and phrases can direct our energy. The cool things is, if you can see, you can change it. It's okay to be non-committal and inspired. It's just not great to be disgusted and shamed for it. The motivation to progress will come from the idea that it could be fun to do in the future. It's not an item on your to-do list, at that point. It's a vacation from your stress and an invitation to have a great time. Take it or leave it, at least it's an invitation. People like getting invited to things. Have some fun with it. Make up your own phrases if you like. 

Now I'm inviting you again to grow with me. Thanks for reading and check out our online courses. We are excited to serve you!

Don Jessop - Blog Welcome

Hi! I'm Don Jessop

With Mastery Horsemanship

I write to inspire, educate and encourage you on your horse and personal journey.

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Don Jessop


Don opened up a community, full of people on the same journey you are!
To share LIVE Q&A's and help people and horses transform Confidence.

Don Jessop


Don shares his  passion for writing with his passion for helping horse owners see the horse and themselves for who they truly are.

Don Jessop


Don believes every horse owner should have access to the Principles of Horsemanship and he shares them freely here.

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