Truly, I cringe when you hear me utter the words, “You/I should.” Problem is, I say them a lot. It’s a habit I’m working to break. No matter if my, “you should” is  something fun like, “Yes, you should take off an adventure—plan it for next spring and go.” It’s still me inflicting a thing—my opinion— on someone else. When I tell myself, “I should,” it’s frequently followed by some new responsibility that I feel obligated to do even though it isn’t in my heart.

“We were not sent into this world to do anything into which we cannot put our hearts.” John Ruskin Click To Tweet

I’m suggestible so when someone says to me, “you should,” I stop to consider it. Unless it’s, “You should jump off a bridge,” then I tend to ignore them even if a bungee cord is involved in the plunge.

Should, defined by Merriam-Webster is “ought to” and the past tense of “shall.” I get the, “ought to,” which sounds like a harsher version of should. When I say, I ought to do that, it feels more like an imperative.

The past tense of “shall” threw me for a loop, though. The past tense? I shall travel to Wales next year tells me a thing is in the works. I should travel to Wales next year means it’s a vague possibility. So how is it past tense?

I’m more of this type of should speaker: “—used in auxiliary function to express futurity from a point of view in the past.” That is, based on something I’ve experienced in the past, I think I/you should do XX.

No matter how I slice it, when I bring “should” into the equation, I’m imposing my opinion on whatever it is. My advice, should I do this to you, is to throw back at me: “Really? Should I? Is it in my heart?” and laugh really loudly.

How about letting me know if how many times you “should” in a day and what happens when you eliminate the word from your speech?