52. Angry? Try this

Uncategorized Aug 18, 2020

Have you ever caught yourself saying "I should  ......"

"I should track my food."
"I should go to bed and turn off the TV." 
"I should call my mom back."

Our list of shoulds can be endless. 

Here's the thing: should statements need to be dropped.David Burns, author of Feeling Good, a book that teaches cognitive therapy says violations of our should statements are the main cause of our anger and resentment. When we direct them towards ourselves we feel anger because we didn't do what we should. When directed towards others we develop resentment because they didn't do what we thought they should.

He teaches a simple practice you can use to talk back to your should statements. 

1. Write down your thoughts

2. Learn to recognize the distortions in your thoughts

3. Think of a more appropriate thought

Example 1: 

Thought: "I should be logging all my food and working out daily."

Distortion: Should statement

New thought: I feel more confident and less angry when I manage my food and get physical daily. My aim is to do both daily but that has been hard for me in the past so if I slip or miss I won't worry. I'll simply start again. 

It sounds nice to drop the should huh?

That was an example for when you use should against yourself. Burns and other psychologists suggest empathy when modifying your shoulds directed at others. 

Example 2:

Thought: "The governor should make up her mind on the mask issue."

Distortion: Should statement

New thought: "This mask issue is something complex beyond my understanding. If I were in her position I would have a hard time making a decision too."

In this instance empathy makes the should disappear and the resentment that goes with it. 

No more shoulds. 


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