According to the English Oxford Dictionary, when used as a verb “SHOULD” is used to  indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing the actions of another; and indicates a desirable or expected state.

From the personal and spiritual growth perspective, “SHOULD” is a great indicator of a self-limiting/false belief lurking about.

“A belief is not merely an idea that the mind possess; it is an idea that possess the mind.” ~Robert Bolton

Self-limiting/false beliefs are created from your life’s experiences beginning at birth. These self-limiting/false beliefs keep you stuck in negative patterns which create a cycle of frustration, pain, suffering and even despair.  Often times, you don’t even realize you have one and, when you don’t know what you are looking for, are difficult to spot.  They are so subtle and familiar to you that you aren’t even aware that they don’t belong there. They take up residence in your subconscious mind and prey on your decision making abilities, relationships, and your perception of you as well as others and the world.  These hidden beliefs feed and create your reality including the way you experience life.

Beliefs are deeply held patterns of thought and emotion that create your experiences and keep your identity in tact.  It is the emotion tied to your experiences that feed the beliefs. Negative perceptions create self-limiting/false beliefs and positive perceptions give you confidence and encouragement – not all beliefs are bad!

We ALL have belief systems-they form our identity.  We need them!  However, if you find yourself stuck in a cycle, not seeing a way out of a situation with the same repetitive pattern that you want to end, you can bet your bottom dollar that there is at least 1 self-limiting/false belief at work.  So, the question then is:  How do I find this self-limiting/false belief if it hides out in my subconscious mind?  One indicator of a false belief is when the word ‘should’ proceeds a statement.  For example:

“I should do ___ in order to be a better ___.” or “So and So told me I should ___.” or here is a good one: “Everyone thinks I should ___.”.

Once you are aware of said belief, take it a step further and ask yourself:

1) “How does this make me feel?”, 2) “What is the earliest memory I have of feeling this way and believing [your should statement]?”, 3) What is my behavior pattern when I feel this way? and 4) “Is this REALLY what I believe or a false perception I have been living under as if it were real?”

Remember the emotion is the cement that has kept this belief system in place for however long.  So it is important to allow yourself while going through the above exercise to look back on that earliest memory as if you were a bird hovering above the situation, an observer if you will.  Then, take it a step further, by looking forward to at least some of the instances after that earliest memory in order to become aware of your behavior pattern attached to this belief.  Next, allow yourself the time to journal or garden or clean, etc., and really allow yourself to process the negative emotion-this breaks down the cement like a jack-hammer!

Finally, ask yourself:

“What belief system do I want to have about this aspect of myself”, “How do I want to feel when I am in ___ situation”, “What new, self-serving pattern do I want to replace this with?” and create a positive “I AM ___.” statement to match.

Be patient with yourself.  Belief systems are created over time and new habits take repetitive conscious effort to take hold.  You will find that you catch yourself in the old pattern quicker and quicker each time and will be able to redirect easier and easier until it becomes an echo and then a distant memory.

Does this information have your wheels spinning?  Good!  If you would like to read up on another way of identifying a self-limiting/false belief check out my previous blog, Mirror, Mirror.

Good luck on this leg of your journey.  If you would like guidance and support, reach out and schedule a Discovery Session with me.



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12 Responses

  1. Rachel

    I have learned from Louise Hay to substitute the word should with could, so much more empowering.

  2. Jenny Mannion

    LOVE this! In one of my trainings to read the Akashic records it came up that one of my soul aspects just LOVES to “Should”. When I became aware of it – I was granted freedom. I can STOP the shoulds or become very present in the moment if one still comes up and see where it is coming from. Shoulds also take us out of the present moment which is where all the power is. My teacher said “stop shoulding all over yourself” to the class. ;-P It sounded different but had the same reaction.. When we let go of the shoulds we truly step more into the power of the current moment and can heal parts of the past. Thanks so much for this!

    • Crystal Cockerham

      Jenny, thank you for sharing this information. I love “stop should-ing all over yourself”! We can so easily become imprisoned, even paralyzed by “shoulds”. I know it takes practice, but it does get easier, I am so happy to hear you share that.

  3. Colleen

    Loved this post and I will share it on my facebook page. Our theme this month is ‘Awaken’ and I believe we all need to awaken to our self-limiting beliefs so that we can truly become who we are meant to be.

    • Crystal Cockerham

      Thank you Colleen! And, beliefs are definitely part of Awakening and staying Awake.

    • Crystal Cockerham

      Thank you Kimberely! I am glad you enjoyed it and find it useful.

    • Crystal Cockerham

      Ooh, Barb-that would be a great post-to find out what words on peoples “Do not use list” and if they have one! Could get squirelly though…

  4. Andrea

    I have found that once unhooked from the emotional “old tapes,” duty, correctness, and obligation are not terribly charged, either. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Nicole

    Love this! I am usually pretty aware if I am acting out of fear or limiting beliefs. What a wonderful way to shed some more light on the false beliefs though and the sneaky ways in which they show up!

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