I Shouldn’t Have Written This Post…


“I have a newborn son, our financial situation is improved, I am a child of God and (other good things in my life)…I shouldn’t feel this way.”  That was basically my response when my pastor recently asked how I was doing with regards to the depression. He replied by saying that “should” is a dangerous word. (At least that is mostly what I remember- you know how it is.)

I have been thinking about that quite a bit. I shouldn’t have said that to him, now he thinks that I am a negative…wait…

I shouldn’t think that way…

I should stop…


I went to see a counsellor last week, and after the painful part where I spill my guts and do my best to just remain numb and emotionless (ok that was the easy part…), he said essentially the same thing about my use of the word “should”.  Apparently I constantly, “should on myself.” Get it? Heh. I shoudn’t make bad jokes like that.


I have come to realize that I constantly say or think  “should” phrases with regard to myself. I am a perfectionist, I knew that already, but this realization has only brought it to the fore.  I have always struggled with an all or nothing attitude.  Ask my wife, I am either running 5 days per week and in the gym lifting 3 days, and eating only healthy – or I do nothing and eat potato chips and chocolate…mmm chips and chocolate. And don’t get me started on the “A” I got last semester…not good enough!  I should have studied harder!


And what good does it do? What can I expect to accomplish from saying things like, “I shouldn’t feel this way” or  “I should have done that instead.”?  Nothing I suppose except a feeling of guilt and shame which will only perpetuate and intensify these symptoms depression.

For example, some of the things I am constantly saying or thinking to myself are:

I should have gone to the gym today instead of sleeping in.

I should have stayed in college instead of taking that promotion and dropping out.

I shouldn’t have stayed up so late.

I shouldn’t have made all those poor nutritional choices over the past 5 years.

I shouldn’t have yelled at the kids.

And on and on…

What I tend to do, which I had no idea I was even doing, was shaming myself.  I am not a fan of “the power of positive thinking” but in my unabashed dislike for it, I apparently went the other direction completely and began to dwell on only the negative things.  All without even realizing it. This type of thinking is both a cause and a symptom of depression.  We are not sure which it is right now, we are leaning toward symptom…but either way…it feels good to realize this about myself. So instead of all the “shoulding on myself,” I am going to say things like:

I should have gone to the get to go to the gym after work today instead of sleeping in.

should have stayed in get to go to college instead of taking that promotion and dropping out.

I shouldn’t have stayed up so late get to go to bed early tonight, wheeee!

I shouldn’t have made all those poor nutritional choices over the past 5 years get to make healthy choices today!

I shouldn’t have yelled at the get to apologize to the kids and show them the gospel of grace in action!

I shouldn’t have eaten that last cookie   ate that cookie and it was tasty! Now I get to go for a run o burn it off and achieve endorphin high! WHEEE!! 🙂

And when I say “should” or “shouldn’t”, when I fail, I get another opportunity to try again. I don’t have to put myself in the penalty box for sin because Jesus already paid those sins for me. Instead of focusing on my failures, or my “should haves,” I should get to focus on Jesus Christ. That is how grace works. And it is amazing. We see it all over the glorious gospel. Jesus took all our “shoulds” upon himself for you and I…  the life we should have lived… the death we should have died…the wrath we should have borne…now we should get to live a life of thankfulness for this amazing blessing.

Thanks for joining me on my journey.

I am happy that I get to share some of it with you.

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  1. Annette Sikkema says:

    Thank You!!!

  2. James says:

    Thanks for sharing! I love the honesty – Keep it up!

  3. doulanic says:

    Great post – and from someone else who deals with depression on and off …. I get it. 🙂

  4. Jacoba says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, especially how you showed what it looks like to ‘cross out’ the shoulds to replace them with other, healthier words.

  5. Tina Ludwig says:

    My problem is always “ought to” . I ought to do this or I ought to do that and I put way to much pressure on myself and constantly felt inadequate. Thank you for sharing.