Episode 152: Word Swap: Could for Should
You’re listening to live free creative, an intentional podcast with practical tips for living your life on purpose. I’m your host Miranda Anderson, and I believe in creativity, adventure, curiosity and the magic of small moments. I hope that every time you listen, you feel empowered and free to live the life of your dreams.
Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the podcast. This is the first episode of Season 4, Episode 152. And I’m thrilled to be back on the show after my first ever summer break.
You may notice there’s a couple things that are a little different around here: First, I have new cover art. I hired an incredible graphic designer, Lucas Young, who’s also a good friend, to redesign the cover for the show to celebrate our fourth season.
I absolutely love what he came up with. It’s got those adventure desert vibes. It’s got my smiling face beaming out at you so you’ll recognize whose show you’re clicking on.
I also have some fun things in store for the millionth download, which will happen sometime in the next couple of months. And I can’t wait to celebrate that with you.
The second thing that’s a little bit different is the intro. And I’m going to warn you, the intro will be different again, as soon as the third thing that’s different is restored, which is my voice.
Long story short: Back in July–in the middle of my break from the podcast–I caught a cold virus and while the rest of my body recovered quite quickly, the virus seems to have taken out the nerve that connects to my right vocal cord. So a couple of weeks ago I was diagnosed with vocal cord paralysis.
It’s an unusual situation. I’ve spent about eight weeks not being able to speak louder than this. Of course I have a microphone. Hopefully you can hear me okay. But if you are sitting next to me in person, unless you are leaning in about 12 inches or less from my mouth, you probably wouldn’t be able to hear what I’m saying.
A very unique and unexpected challenge for sure. I’m super grateful that I was on break for the podcast. And I’ve had a couple months where I wasn’t needing to speak weekly, to do some vocal rest and go to a few different specialists and figure it out.
Luckily, I’ve been told that using my vocal cords to speak won’t damage them at all.
It doesn’t hurt at all for me to talk. My voice is definitely a little more breathy, a little higher, a little different than what I am used to. But rest assured that I’m comfortable, and I’m so excited to share some thoughts with you today and in the upcoming episodes.
A few weeks from now, I have an appointment scheduled where they’re going to do an injection into my vocal cord that will help plump it up and hopefully restore the quality of my voice a little closer to normal. And we’ll wait about six months to discover whether or not the nerve ending to the cord itself wants to kick back into gear or regenerate.
At that point we’ll determine whether or not we need a longer term solution. So in the meantime, just relax and enjoy this super zen voice that I get to bring to you for the beginning of Season 4.
In today’s episode, I’m excited to share with you a new word swap that you might find useful as you’re going throughout your day to day life.
Before I jump in, I want to share a quick pause for a poem.
Pause For A Poem
This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
Such a good one. I shared this poem by Walt Whitman in particular today because of the first line that I think is so interesting. “This is what you shall do.” And then he goes on to give this advice, which is as far as I’m concerned, very sound advice.
If you go back and listen to it again or read it in the show notes, you can look it over line by line and give it a little more thought. There’s something so interesting about this idea.
Main Topic: Word Swap: Could for Should
The idea of this is what you shall do–that poem is written in 1855. So in more modern language, someone today might say, “this is what you should do.” Should is a very interesting word. And today in this episode, I want to talk to you about some words, swap magic that might bring a little bit of relief, a little bit of openness and curiosity into your life.
If you’ve been listening to this show for a while, you may remember my first Word Swap Magic episode was Episode 109. In that episode, I talked about replacing the word “but” in your regular conversations with the word “and,” and you can go back and listen to that show to learn the ins and outs and reasons for that.
I have heard from so many people that that little word swap has been very insightful for them in their lives, that it’s helped them to feel a little bit more connected and feel a little bit more open to the different circumstances that they find themselves.
My hope is that today’s word swap suggestion will have a similar impact. That you will find yourself feeling less overwhelmed and less stressed out and less frustrated. By the simple substitution of the word could for the word should.
How many of you have ever felt a little bit discouraged, overwhelmed, or frustrated when you have encountered the word should in your life?
Whether from someone else or from yourself, often the word should leaves us feeling like we are lacking in some way. Examples might be, I should work harder. I should be doing better. I should look like that. I should have a different life. My house should be cleaner. My kids should be more quiet. I shouldn’t be upset. I should be stronger. I should be able to do this.
Do any of those resonate with you? Have you had those thoughts before? Have you had them about other people in a way that creates disconnect and distance? She should be kinder. She shouldn’t act like that. My in-laws shouldn’t get into my business. My mom definitely should be at my daughter’s dance recital.
In most cases, when we are using the word should either for ourself or for someone else, we’re using the word in criticism. In critique. In a way that can divide us from reality and also divide us from our own wholeness and the wholeness we can experience in relationships with others.
Have you ever looked up a definition for the word “should?” I find it really interesting. The Oxford English dictionary defines the word should as “used to indicate obligation duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.”
I don’t know about you, but I tend to resist things that are done purely out of duty or obligation. And I definitely feel resistance being criticized, either criticizing myself or being criticized by others. Something as simple as using the word should regularly in our lives can actively get in the way of us achieving our own goals. It can be a form of self-criticism that creates rejection of ourselves.
We create stress and anxiety around our actions and around the disconnect between where we are and where we think we should be.
I want you to take a minute and think about some things that right now you think you should be doing differently, whether it’s actions that you feel like you should take. Actual ways of being personality traits, that you have an idea of how they should be different than they are currently. I want you to consider whether or not the should actually aligns with something that you want you and you alone.
Why do you think you should be different or act different or do something right now. Who told you that? Where did that idea come from? In most cases, when we have an idea of a should for our lives, that hasn’t come from our own hearts, it’s come from somewhere outside of us. From a friend, a family member, a general culture, or even just society as a whole.
A girl who I like following on Instagram, her handle is the LA minimalist has a funny phrase that I think is so important.
She uses the phrase “the rules are fake” all the time. The rules are fake. The rules are fake. Whenever people are questioning what they should do in their lives, what their next steps will be, she will tell them “whatever you want.” The rules are fake.
You can probably think of a couple of different situations happening in your life right now, where you’re doing things out of obligation, not out of desire, not out of true alignment with your own personal values, but because you think you should.
And I want you to consider the idea that the rules that you’re basing that assumption on are fake, that there isn’t one right way to live this life. Part of the fun of living is the discovery of how you actually want to live the honoring of your desires, the alignment with your values. You get to make the decisions because it’s your life. And you’re an adult.
It’s an incredible thing to have your mind opened up to the possibilities that await when you push aside the should and replace it with the could.
This word swap invites you to consider replacing the word should with the word could in your regular life, when it comes up.
The idea I should do the dishes right now, you can swap that for, I could do the dishes right now. How does that feel different? Does that feel lighter to you? I feel like it does.
To help illustrate and develop this idea of a word swapping could for should, I came up with an acronym for each of them that hopefully will help you recognize and think about the words a little bit differently.
If it’s easier for you to visualize this by actually seeing the words written out in the acronym, I want to invite you to head to the show notes at livefreecreative.co/podcast. This is episode 152. The entire transcription of the show each week is available on the podcast show notes page.
In this episode, we’ll make sure to bold out these acronyms so that you can see them and they feel a little bit easier to understand, to look at them.
I’m definitely a visual person. It helps me to see it. So I’m going to say it for you and invite you to go look at it on the show notes. Here is the acronym for should:
The reason that I like this acronym for the word should, is that it squarely places the emotion and the desire for the action in someone else’s court.
It’s saying this is stuff that other people like. This is stuff that’s coming from outside of me from outside of myself. I don’t know about you, but most of the time when I really want to do something in my head, it doesn’t qualify as a should, it automatically jumps to: I want to/I’m choosing to/I’m excited about, rather than something is stuck in the should category.
It’s helpful for me to recognize that it is an option. I don’t have to do this thing. And in fact, it may bring some clarity to recognize that it’s a thing, something or stuff that humans other than me like to do. It’s something other people have decided is helpful or useful or important.
And I still get to make my own choice. I don’t have to feel the automatic pressure of the should because that’s not for me. It’s determined and defined by other people. Not by me.
Let me now give you the acronym for C O U L D. I kind of feel like I’m in a spelling bee when I spell those words out for you.
The acronym that I came up with for could is this:
Look into and
I love the idea of taking back your power. Of saying I could do the dishes right now. That’s an option that I’m going to look into and make a decision about. Not something that I must do. The could, and especially defining could this way, that it’s options that you can look into and decide for yourself–that creates space and openness. It creates curiosity.
Using the word could in place of should invites you to get back in the driver’s seat of your life, to decide for yourself that things that are important. You could consider working harder on that project you’ve been putting off and it’s okay if you don’t, that’s a choice you get to make.
You could lose 20 pounds and look more like the cover model on the magazine, and you’re whole and worthy and wonderful as you are. So that’s a choice you get to make, it’s an option to consider.
Your house could be bigger. And that might also mean it’s a lot more work and costs a lot more money, and maybe you don’t actually want that.
Your kid’s room could be clean. And they’re kids, and maybe it’s more fun to just enjoy letting them be kids and, you know, choose one day every couple of weeks that everyone whirlwinds through and cleans it up. But you don’t have to believe that it has to be clean every single day. When you use the word could, instead of should, you’re indicating to yourself acknowledging that you have the freedom and possibility and options available to you. Instead of using the word should, which usually leads to feelings of guilt or shame or incompetence.
If you decide to start implementing this word, swap into your vocabulary, not only in the words that you say, but also the words that you think to yourself in your head, you will immediately begin to feel more in control of your actions. More empowered in your choices. I believe that it will bring a little bit of self-reflection as you consider, not only just following the path that other people have determined is right for you and right for everyone, instead considering what things matter to you that might be different from other people.
How do you want to live? How do you want to feel? It’s so incredible. The world that we live in that gives us almost innumerable options that, you know, of course in some cases can lead to overwhelm when we have decision fatigue. And also it’s miraculous that virtually any life that you desire could be possible for you.
When people say that any life is possible, I often think of like, oh, the life in which I live on an island in the middle of the Caribbean and have this sprawling house and raise horses and, you know, whatever. There’s like, none of those things are actually things that I really want, just oftentimes when people say, when I say even, uh, you know, live the life that you want, people jump to these big giant dreams of, you know, fantasy, reality TV living.
What I recognize and know to be true is that it’s the small, simple acts, openness and curiosity and freedom in our lives, that give us the most sense of wellbeing. There are some incredible studies done about happiness, about what brings happiness to people that this ongoing pursuit that we all have of the elusive happiness.
One that I think is so interesting is the idea that people who feel very satisfied with their life often have a very high perception of their level of control, not control in like a white knuckling sort of way, but that they feel that they can determine some of their own outcomes–that they’re not being tugged to and fro by circumstances happening outside of their control, but that they’re able to claim the responsibility in a wonderful way for their day-to-day existence.
This is something that I believe happens when we swap the word should out of our vocabulary and replace it with the word could or will, or want to.
The simple act of changing the way that we talk and think about obligations as options enables us to feel a level of control and freedom that can automatically lead to a higher sense of wellbeing. Even if, as you’re going through this exercise and you’re doing the word swap, and you’re thinking of all the things that you think you should do and going through and replacing them with, I could do this and then taking a look at that and saying, is this something I want to do? Is that something I like doing? Is it something I would choose, even if I didn’t have that societal, external cultural pressure?
What happens is we start to see that so many of the things we think we should do are things we actually want to do. There are things we are choosing. When we default to obligation, that creates the tension and the friction, rather than allowing and inviting the openness, the ability to feel free within our choices.
In preparing for this show, I came across a really interesting study by Susan Heitler, who is a PhD in psychology. Years ago, she was working as a therapist with a professional football player from the Denver Broncos football team. She talks about doing an office test for muscle strength, where the idea is that if a person is in a peaceful, emotional state, they will be able to hold their arm out straight and strong.
And even if pressure is applied to the top of the arm, it will stay straight out and strong.
And when someone is in a stressed out emotional state, that there are more fall under the pressure.
So she has this young man put his arms out and repeat some sentences and she tests his arm by putting pressure on the top of it. After each sentence, the first sentence is I would like to visit my grandmother. The second sentence is I could visit my grandmother. The third sentence is I should visit my grandmother and the fourth is I have to visit my grandmother.
Now, this all seems very simple, right? You’re just standing in the office, holding her arms out straight. Does it make a difference? The words that you use? According to her, yes, it does.
The football players muscle stayed rock strong with the first two sentences when he used, I would like to, and I could during the next two.
Using the word should and have to his muscles turned to marshmallow and his arm dropped with just a little bit of pressure.
She goes on to talk about how, when you use the word should, often it creates a feeling of guilt and anxiety that can in turn lead to tension and rebellion, shame and guilt. Like we talked about earlier in the show where, when you simply replace those words with could, it releases the negative energy of the should and invites ease, invites desire and motivation, invites the idea that you are in control of the options that you choose in your life.
And you may find that you end up doing all of the same things, but the energy that you bring to them is completely different because rather than feeling obligated and controlled, you’re able to feel empowered and free. Words have power. That’s one reason why these words swaps that I’ve introduced you to are magic.
I want to quickly go over the acronyms for should and could again, and invite you to swap should completely out of your vocabulary and in place use could.
Here’s the acronym for shed that I shared with you earlier. I want this to stick in your head because if nothing else it’ll make you laugh:
Look into and
Remember when you’re using the word should, when that pops up for you, it indicates something or someone outside of yourself. It’s not an obligation. It is an option. So swapping that with could, or will, or want to puts the power back inside yourself.
And it’s so much more fun to live from an empowered place. From a place where you feel open to the many different possibilities for your life and recognize that not one way is the right way, that there are lots of different ways and you get to choose. And a lot of times there’s lots of good choices.
So it’s not even a matter of choosing, good, better, best, but that everything’s wonderful. And it’s just simply a decision you get to make. Which can be really awesome.
To make this episode even more meaningful in your life, let me suggest a quick self-reflection activity that you could do to help you with this word.
Pull out a piece of paper and write down 10, 12, or 15 should statements that apply to you right now, things that you’re thinking of, or that you have thought of in the last couple of days or weeks about yourself and your life or about other people: I should do this. I should do that. I should be different. I should… All of those things.
Write them all down. Then go through them each and cross out the should and replace it with could, will, or want to.
Give yourself a little bit of time to reflect on how changing your shoulds to coulds changes the way that you feel about that option, idea, or action.
Are there things that you think you should do that you don’t want to, that you could eliminate from your life completely? Are there things that you feel like you should do that you really enjoy? And so swapping it to a could, or want to gives you back your power.
Spend about 10 or 15 minutes, reflecting on the shoulds and coulds in your life.
And then I invite you to make an effort to eliminate the shoulds and invite the coulds.
Thank you so much for tuning back in to Season 4 of Live Free Creative Podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I have so many good ones in store in the upcoming. Make sure that you subscribe. I mean, you could subscribe. It’s optional. If you do, you’ll be sure to not miss an episode. And I would love for you to be able to tune in every week.
We’re back to our regular schedule of Thursday morning, 6:00 AM Eastern. The shows go live, as well as the show notes livefreecreative.co/podcast.
Now, before I end today, I wanted to give you a couple of quick updates on some things you may want to know about:
Grown-Up Summer Camp
The first thing I want you to know is that the early bird registration for grown-ups Summer Camp 2022 is now available.
Grown-up Summer Camp 2021 was off the charts incredible. It exceeded all of our expectations and I’m so excited to be hosting again. In 2022, the dates are set for July 14th through 17th. It’s going to be in New Castle, Virginia. And from right now, till the end of the year, you can get $100 off your registration by using the code: EARLYBIRD
Now after October 1st, the registration for camp is going to close completely until the spring. Last year it sold out and I expect it will as well this year. If you want to guarantee your registration and your attendance at grown-up summer camp, make sure that you register before the end of the month and take $100 off with the code: EARLYBIRD
I will make sure all of the details are available in the show notes.
You can also go to livefreecreative.co/summer-camp to learn more. It’s a three-day camp with river sports and craft projects and speakers, incredible food, incredible conversation, and a really wonderful opportunity to connect to yourself, a community of amazing women, and to nature. I would love to see you there. Can’t wait.
Creative Mentorship Program
The next thing that I wanted to share by way of announcement is that I have current openings in my one-on-one creative mentorship program. Right now you sign up for that via Patreon. Go to patreon.com/livefreecreative. You can see the details there. It’s a baseline three-month mentorship program where you and I, one-on-one, dig into your current creative project, lifestyle organization, or anything else that you feel like you could use a little bit of assistance, accountability and support.
I’ve helped people launch products, start new blogs and businesses, develop a better work-life balance plan, their upcoming family vacations for the year, learn some skills and mindset that’s helpful for being able to pursue personal projects. Even as a busy mom, if you feel like you could use a little bit of help and you would like me in your corner as your personal creative mentor, head to patreon.com/livefreecreative and grab a spot.
That’s all for this week. Friends. I hope you loved the show and we’ll tune in again next week. Same time, same place. Have a wonderful week. And I’ll talk to you then. Bye-bye.