One of the most dangerous words in the English language is “SHOULD.”

We bury ourselves in shame and inadequacy when we listen to the Should Bird resting eagerly on our shoulder. Every time we use the word “should,” we are, in effect, saying that we are “wrong” and “not good enough.”

As my Priestess Ariel says, “the Should Bird is should-ing all over us.”

The message is you were wrong or you will be wrong if you don’t do whatever you think you should do.

Most of the time, when we unpack the should voice and ask ourselves WHY we think we should do xyz, we realize that the “should voice” is not really ours to begin with. Our shoulds are rooted in voices of expectation from our family, society, what we think others are thinking, what books, magazines, or Facebook is saying, etc.

Here’s a short, potent exercise to exorcise the should voice:

1. Make a list of five to ten things you think you should be doing.

2. For each answer, ask yourself and write down why you think you should be doing this.

e.g. “I’ll make more money if I…” “Everyone else is doing it.” “My parents always said…” “I should be more like my sister, cousin, etc.”

3. Replace the word “should” with the word “could.”

“Could” is an empowering word that implies choice. We choose to do something or not. We are never wrong once we understand why we do or don’t do something. The power to act and change (if we want) is in our hands.

4. Now, ask yourself why you do or do not choose to do something.

e.g. “I haven’t done this because…” or “I don’t want to do this because…”

The irony is that if we are not doing something, it is because, on some level, we don’t really want to. When we begin to clarify what we really do want, we live our truth and let go of beating ourselves up for something we never wanted in the first place.

Free yourself up to understand why you are doing what you are doing and challenge yourself to ask what you really want. Let go of inner voices that do not resonate with your authentic truth. Release the self-beat and feeling of “being wrong” because your desires or expectations are different from someone else’s.

Love your truth. Let the “Should Bird” fly the coop.

Please post your questions and let us know whose should voice is in your head.

Elevating personal growth as a lifestyle, Ashley Turner, M.A., brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern-day psychotherapist with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit. Ashley is the co-author of Aroma Yoga®: Using Essential Oils in Yoga + Life and creator of four best-selling yoga DVDs. She leads monthly, weekend retreats at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, as well as retreats and workshops around the globe. For more on her and her events, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

*Photo Credit: blmiers2 via Compfight cc