Perspectives 13: Working With Shoulds

Perspectives Issue 13: March, 2017

In this issue:

  • Working with “shoulds”
  • Taming Your Inner Critic Workshop starts in May
  • Two PCC workshops in April

Know somebody who would benefit from reading this eNewsletter? Please forward it to them! Thanks.

It’s been a very long time since I sent out a proper eNewsletter. Thanks to all of you who have hung in on this list getting little besides workshop announcements for too long.

I have been very focused on my work with organizations for the last several years, but my intention this year is to begin bringing more attention back to my life coaching practice. As part of that refocusing, my plan is to be more consistent about sending out newsletters more like this one every 1-3 months again, as I did when I started Perspectives. If there are topics you’d like me to touch on, please drop me an email and let me know.

I thought I’d kick this new series off with some ideas about useful ways to work with our “shoulds.”

Image: anankkml /

Working with “Shoulds”

I often hear my clients (and my friends and family, and even me) saying things like “I should exercise more,” “I should be more disciplined about (fill in the blank),” “I should stop being so impatient,” “I should take better care of myself,” etc. And I notice, when they say that, a contraction in their voices and bodies. That contraction is a signal that we are resisting, that we feel burdened by what we are saying (or thinking, or hearing).

I also notice that when we frame things as shoulds, we tend not to do them, which makes sense, because when we are in resistance, we are powerful opponents for ourselves to battle.

What’s On Your Should List?

When you find yourself struggling to take the actions you want to take, or to make a decision, it is sometimes useful to write down, so you can see them, the shoulds you are carrying about that. Then it’s time to get curious, perhaps by asking yourself:

  • What do I get (as a reward) when I do each of these things/live according to this particular “should rule”?
  • What do I lose when I do each of these things/live according to this particular “should rule”?

Once you have a sense of your gains and losses, you may have more clarity about whether that particular “should” is serving you well in your current life. If it is not, consider assuming that it emerged at a time when you needed it to stay safe (and so be compassionate with yourself about it), but that it may no longer be necessary.

If you come to the conclusion that it is no longer useful, get creative about choosing an active belief/assumption you can put in its place that will serve you better. (If you aren’t sure how to do this, you might explore the “Trying Out Multiple Perspectives” approach on the Tools page of my website.)

It is also an interesting truth that we often put on our internal “should” lists things that are some version of something that we actually want.

An example would be saying “I should exercise” when what we want is the health and joy that comes from exercising regularly in ways that are fun for us.

If you find shoulds like that on your list, it is an opportunity to shift something that was on your should list to your want list by morphing it slightly – releasing the part that was an unhelpful expectation or unreasonable fear and clearly identifying the part that is, in fact, something that you value and want in your life. This usually opens up a path to actually doing the thing you want, allowing you to release the resistance that comes from the “should” framing.

Useful questions for helping you see a way to shift from should to want are:

  • What do I want?
  • What am I assuming?
  • What would make it fun?
  • What would make it easy?

I invite you to play with these ideas and see where they take you. You can comment, or ask questions, in the comments box below.

If you want more work on shoulds, please consider joining my upcoming workshop on Taming Your Inner Critic.

A rock with wings I found recently on a visit to Lake Michigan

Taming Your Inner Critic Workshop Starts in May

Self-judgment can paralyze us, hold us in fear, keep us from growing into our strengths and taking action. Self-judgment – and the judgment of others – are the job of our inner critic. Would you like to change your relationship with your inner critic and learn to move with ease through fear into action?

Whether self-judgment is coming up for you around work, family, love, creativity, wellness, or some other arena, this six-week workshop will help you hear in a different way the internal voices that react defensively and critically when you are facing challenges, and hold you back from becoming the person you want to be. The work is about shifting your relationship with those voices, so you can find in yourself the resources you need to step more deeply into being the person you are becoming – who you are when you are at your best. You will come away not just with a new, experience-based framing, but also with many concrete tools for staying on the path of being more of you-at-your-best, naturally and with more ease.

Dates and Location: Meets six consecutive Wednesdays, May 3rd through June 7th, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at my place in outer SE Portland (roughly SE 92nd and Johnson Creek Blvd.).

Cost: $225. It can be paid in a single payment, or in three installments. Group participants also get a special rate of $45/hour for individual coaching sessions done between May 1st and June 15th. (The normal rate is $65/hour.)

Registration: To reserve your spot, please send me an email at to let me know you are interested. I will send you the address where you can send a check.

Public Transportation: The house is roughly 1/3rd of a mile from the Flavel Street Max station (Green line), but the walk from there includes a long, steep hill.

Allergy Alert: We have cats. They will be excluded from the space we meet in during our meetings, but if you have a severe cat allergy, this is probably not the group for you. Sorry.


If you have questions, please give me a call or email me.  I would love to talk with you about the workshop.

Image courtesy of yaipearn at

April Workshops At PCC

Tools for Getting Unstuck – April 18th

Feeling stuck is an experience common to us all. It stifles our creativity, brings up judgment and anxiety, and wastes a lot of time. Come spend three hours in this highly interactive workshop learning some ways to get out of stuck spots, make decisions you’ll feel good about and create the forward motion you need to create the changes you desire. These techniques can be used at a personal level and in organizations (workplaces, boards, families, recreational and creative organizations, etc.).

Logistics: Tuesday, April 18th from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at PCC’s SE Campus (Division and 82nd), Tabor 127. The cost is $29 and the CRN is 26639. Pre-registration is required.  To register, go to

Tools for Good Meeting Facilitation – April 29th
What drives you crazy in meetings? What do you wish you could change in the meetings you run, or participate in? This workshop combines lively presentations on useful tools and practices with Q and A and highly interactive exercises based on actual challenges experienced by participants.

Topics include:

  • Why and how to cultivate participatory decision making (and how to do so without creating horrendously long meetings)
  • What are meetings for?
  • Building good meeting agendas
  • Clarifying roles in decision-making
  • Simple, useful tools for meeting facilitators
  • How to support good meeting process when you are not the facilitator
  • Asking powerful questions
  • Working with “difficult people”

Logistics: Saturday, April 29th from noon to 4:00 p.m. at PCC’s SE Campus (Division and 82nd), SCOM 316. The cost is $35 and the CRN is 28018. Pre-registration is required.  To register, go to

. . . . .

What People Say About My Groups and Workshops

“Emotional, rewarding and life changing”

“The group was inspiring, stimulating, helped me shift out of negativity toward optimistic ideas. I love your style – welcoming, supportive.”

“This workshop has changed how I think about my life”

“I now have LOTS of tools to help me make shifts in my life that I’ve wanted.”

. . . . .


If you are feeling stuck and want to do more in-depth work to move through your stuck spots and begin creating the life you want to be living, I invite you to do three months of coaching.

We will focus in on what is most alive for you, most stuck, most confusing, and discover ways for you to access your own deep wisdom and to release old patterns that have stopped serving you and are preventing you from making the changes you want to make. Coaching is practical – learning and action are integrated, so you are actually taking the steps you want to be taking while getting more clarity about what makes these changes challenging and how to make it easy. The cost for three months of facilitation is $495.

You will find information about my coaching work (which I have been calling “individual facilitation”) at What is Individual Facilitation.

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One Response to Perspectives 13: Working With Shoulds

  1. Pingback: Tasha Harmon — New Perspectives — Perspectives 15: Navigating Change Together

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