What if I told you that replacing one word with a single different word could instantly lower your stress levels?
Not just lower them, but chop them to pieces?!?
This one word change could actually prevent some of that stress from even happening in the first place. Imagine that!
(That right there is mind-blowing for some people. We can get so immersed in the idea of "stress management," that we forget sometimes that we can do things so the stress doesn't even happen in the first place. After all, you don't have to "manage" stress if it is non-existent.)
While you ponder that epiphany, let me introduce you to a simple trick to make this happen for you.
Anytime you use the word "should," replace it with the word "could."
When we say or think "should," we are chastising ourselves. That word is full of blame and regret and self-bullying. It has NO place in your vocabulary if you're looking to grow.
However, there are times when we believe we "should" have done something differently ("I should have said that in a nicer way") or we "should" have done something different than we did ("I should have eaten only one donut instead of three").
But the moment we "should" on ourselves, our self-esteem falls and our stress level rises. We feel like we "can't do anything right," or "always make the wrong decisions."
It's time to stop beating yourself up over something you have complete control over changing. When you choose to beat yourself up (notice that ever important word, choose), you are wasting too much time and energy on pretending to be a victim. You could use that time and energy much more wisely.
Instead, take control of the moment by saying "could" instead.
"I could have said that in a nicer way...but I did not." This allows you to simply take ownership of the fact that you did not in that moment. No blame, no shame, just a statement of fact. When you stick to the facts, you can consider how you are going to do it differently next time or even connect with that person and acknowledge that you felt you were being harsh when you said that earlier.
"I could have eaten one donut instead of three...but I didn't." This allows you to own that choice and make a decision for the choice you are going to make next time. For example, "The next time donuts are in the break room, I am going to take one back to my desk and enjoy it." If the extra donuts are not sitting in front of you, you have just given yourself a chance for a more positive outcome.
By acknowledging your choice and taking ownership of that choice, you give yourself the ability to make a different decision later. Why would you continue to harp on the decision you already made? What are you going to do, go back and change it?
Of course not. The importance that decision makes in your life now is deciding what are you going to learn from it...and moving beyond it.
By replacing "should" with "could," you instantly empower yourself. You remind yourself that you made a decision and now, you can make a different decision. You become more self-aware of your choices, which gets you off of autopilot.
When you get off of autopilot, you put yourself in control.