Why we must pay attention to our “could, should and woulds”

We’ve all had experiences, which we want to forget, or wish we could go back in time and change our behavior, reaction, or words.

These incidents often leave us anxious and unhappy with ourselves too. We may ruminate on the happening for days, running it over and over in our heads—what we did wrong, what we should or could have said or done—to get the outcomes that we expected and wanted.

“Should, could and would” are not going to change the reality, of course, we all know that.

What’s more— too much dwelling upon desired endings of past events is unproductive, distressing and unhealthy. It makes our brains move in loops, wasting precious time and energy on events that are gone and done. Fair enough. So, we must move on, logic dictates.

But what if we can’t move on? What if the weight of our “coulds, shoulds and woulds” is too heavy?

Maybe these wish-upons are not mere happiness-and confidence-busters, but they have a purpose and even value to us? Can we and should we really completely ignore them?

The truth is, we need to pay attention of our “coulds, shoulds and woulds.”

Admittedly, they may make us feel bad about our current selves—that we didn’t live up to our own expectations and that we are not the people we believe we can be.  Simply put — they cause our self-opinions and self-esteem to plummet.

But if we think too much in terms of “should, could and would,” it also often signals that something much deeper is escalating in the background.

As in—we are not happy with our personal or professional lives, we are not at the place we want to be, or there are amends we are craving to make—in our behavior, personality, self-assurance, even appearances — to close this gap.

And yes, it may be all “in our heads,” as psychologists may say here—that it all depends on our perceptions and interpretations of the situation. Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all. We are exaggerating. Or maybe we are just too high of achievers and perfectionists, and anything less than the stellar outcomes we expect of ourselves are deemed failures by default.

Certainly, there are grains of truth in these assumptions.

But if we are constantly disappointed with ourselves, then the regrets will keep coming back.

If we don’t feel great about ourselves—based on even perceived non-strengths and unsatisfying endings, our universes will be grey, dark and desolate places. We won’t be the individuals we know we have the potential to be.

So, it’s very important not to ignore the “could, should and woulds” as they can lead us to the “whys:” Why our expectations don’t align with the actual results? Why did we anticipate taking on the world, but instead—ended up crashing?

We should take a good stock of the “should-bes” swirling in our minds—to be able to pinpoint what we need to focus on improving.

Only then, we may employ the true-and-tried techniques from the books–the ones that all the gurus tell us about— “practice in front of the mirror; play out different scenarios in your head; visualise yourself succeed, prepare for the worst-case scenario, have a plan B, give yourself some credit.” And they may help to dampen the voice of our inner critic.

But it all starts with minding our “shoulds, woulds and coulds.” Because ultimately, we can’t fix what we are not aware of. And they can do exactly this—lead us to rabbit hole where our fears and anxieties live.

Looking back, we don’t want to remember the life that could-have-been but never was. We want to be able to look the man in the mirror in the eye—proudly and with the confidence that we’ve helped them become everything that we wanted them to be.


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