Language is so powerful yet we often move through our day not truly aware of the word choices we are making. We take our cues from our surroundings and simply speak like everyone around us. If we are about to use a word that is not acceptable at a certain time or place like swearing with children around, we might pause, lower our voice or take a quick glance around to see if the little ears are listening before we say the word. However, I don’t think we think about it in most of our conversations.

Language is generative meaning it creates. If thoughts create our reality and our words are our thoughts spoken aloud then it makes them generative. Our mental health is impacted by our thoughts and by our words spoken aloud or not. The meaning of words and thus the words themselves carry a vibration. A high vibrational word like love and thank-you make you feel good and low vibration words like hate and ones that are used to inflict pain make you feel lousy. This may seem obvious in this sense (to check out how the vibration impacts the cells of our body you can look at Dr. Emoto’s work on this using water a crystallization technique).

One of the most powerful words in the English language is “should” and not in the good and empowering way. This word is full of shame energy, which is the lowest vibration. We use this word with good intentions thinking we are helping someone or helping ourselves. We tell ourselves we should be eating better, sleeping more, doing more or exercising. This can also be a long list at work. I should be doing… then fill in the blank. Go ahead, give it a try and see what your should list looks like. While none of this sound like poor suggestions as soon as we use the word should we feel lousy. Our power leaves us because we feel we have no choice. When we replace the word should with “if I really wanted to I could”, then we are speaking to ourselves with power. We are evoking our choice in the matter and making a decision about priority and desire. Louise L Hay offers much wisdom about this in her book called You can Heal Your Life.

If we think about creating conditions at work and at home that support our mental health knowing that our environment is created by our individual behaviour inputs and intentions, it is important to understand how language contributes to this in overt ways (which most of us can imagine) and in subtle ways like this sneaky word “should”. With this word we are telling ourselves or others something we think we “should” be doing or that they “should” be doing. Telling and shaming make us feel powerless and shameful because if we “should” be doing it and are not then there must be something wrong with us. We then rely on willpower and when we are not successful doing the thing we “should” be doing we begin to believe we are not strong enough, there is something wrong with us etc and thus impacting our mental health. We start to believe our lies. We take our power back when we make conscious choices about what we want to be doing. If I really wanted to I could….please do not say to someone else “If you really wanted to you could… That one is just for you.

When talking with someone else, notice how many times you want to say the word “should” to them and notice why you are saying. You are likely trying to fix something for them but did you wait to be asked? Often a question is much more powerful than a statement saying “you should” even though you intention is to be helpful.