When we’re trying to adopt healthier lifestyle habits, we tend to really get going with the ‘shoulds’. I should do some yoga every day, I should eat a bowl of soup instead of a donut, I should relax more ….. ring any bells?
The trouble with ‘should’ is that it gives us something to push back against. Our little (or large!) inner rebel gets activated. ‘Oh, I should, should I? We’ll see about that.’
‘Could’, on the other hand, opens up possibilities. ‘I could do some yoga today’ leads the mind into figuring out when and for how long, whilst little rebel slumbers on.
‘Could’ also lets us modify the spartan demands we’ve made on ourselves. We may have decided yesterday that today we’ll do an hour of yoga. However, we didn’t sleep well, our energy level is not great and on top of that, the morning has somehow run away with us. So instead of ditching the plan altogether, we can ask ourselves how much or little we ‘could’ do and go with that.
I’ve done that often with my meditation practice. I used to just skip it altogether if I didn’t think I had time in the morning to do my regular amount of practice. Then one missed day would lead to several and I’d have a struggle to get back into it. Once I realised that the most important thing was to keep the habit going, I was able to ask myself how long I ‘could’ sit for, and that’s what I would do – even if it was just a couple of minutes.
My last plea on behalf of ‘could’ is that it gives us a choice, and ‘choosing’ to do something rather than ‘having’ to do it is much more empowering. If I choose the donut over the soup, I accept the consequences of that choice. If I choose soup over the donut, I’m doing so because I want the pay-off of eating more healthily.
So let’s stop ‘shoulding’ on ourselves and take charge of our choices!