Recently, I’ve had to ask several clients to watch their language. A number of them have been using the H word and the S word: Have-to and Should.
Cleaning up the “I have to’s” gives us agency in our own lives; it emphasizes that we are always at choice. You don’t actually have to go to work. But you probably choose to because (at the very least) you get a paycheck. When you see that you are making a choice, it illuminates other choices and possibilities.
One client told me “I have to volunteer.” Now that doesn’t sound right, if I understand the definition of “volunteer!” So we looked at the benefits he gets from volunteering: community, being of service, and feeling part of something that’s important to him. (And he said it also gives him an excuse so he won’t feel pressured into doing “volunteer” work he doesn’t want to do. Clearly, the benefits are unique to the individual!)
“I can’t” is often just the negative version of “I have to.” While it would be true if I said “I can’t make the US Olympic gymnastics team,” it would be untrue if I said “I can’t take 2 months off from work.” I could take an extended vacation, but I choose not to because A) it would mean I couldn’t keep my commitments and B) it would interrupt the momentum of my business.
Are you starting to see how it’s a more mature, intentional way to operate when coming from a place of choice (instead of being in the victim role where you have no choice)? Where do you say “I have to” or “I can’t?” What is the benefit you receive from your current actions? How could you clean up your language and take ownership of your choices? You have agency in your own life!
Next time, we’ll take on “I should.” In the meantime…
Watch your language!
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