People are shoulding on themselves and each other all the time!  The ongoing result is pushback and misery.

Dr. Mitchell Perry

“Shoulding on Yourself and Others”

Have you ever noticed how often people will talk to us about a problem, and we begin to tell them what they “should” do about it? Even after hearing our sage advice, irrespective of how practical, logical, and sensible it might be, they dig in their heels and resist what you claim they “should” do.

We also do this to ourselves. Have you noticed yourself saying, “I should do this” or “I really should avoid doing that,” and then you steadfastly resist whatever it is you’re telling yourself to do? Have you ever noticed how miserable people feel whenever they compulsively keep doing whatever it is they think they should do, rather than what they want to do?  It seems there are so many things they should do, say, think, feel, quit, start, etc., that they seldom get around to enjoying anything.

If all of this sounds familiar, you are an unknowing participant in the “should bind.”  What you may have failed to consider is that whenever you deal with a “should,” you have immediately created an obstacle to any progress or success.  A “should” is a put-down, designed to point out how stupid the person is who receives it.

Suppose you have a friend who is overweight and out of shape.  For a long time, you have been watching your friend overeat without exercising.  You are now concerned about his physical condition because these eating habits are jeopardizing his good health and longevity.  So, you say, with admirable intentions:  “John, you should lose weight.  You should diet and exercise because you know your current weight is unhealthy for you.”  Notice how your friend handles these remarks!  He appears affronted and upset and simply refuses to heed them regardless of their validity.  Why?  What you have really told him is that he is stupid – if he was smart, he would have already lost the weight!  The “should” was, in reality, a put-down that resulted in a typical resistant stance.

You “Should” on yourself too!  You may notice too that whenever you tell yourself you should diet and exercise, you are reluctant to do what you “should” do.  List all of your own “shoulds.”  They may be overwhelmingly abundant and sound something like this:
I should lose weight.  I should stop smoking.  I should exercise. I should spend more time with my kids.  I should finish my degree.  I should call my mother.  I should be more patient.  I should listen.  I shouldn’t feel guilty.  I shouldn’t worry. I shouldn’t take things so personally.

Perhaps your list appears endless.  Notice whenever you should on yourself out loud, you begin to feel badly, defensive, resentful and resistant?  There is a complete absence of motivation.

Sometimes, as parents, we tell our children what they “should” and “shouldn’t” do, feel and behave.  Though our intentions are honorable and we have the utmost concern for their welfare, we become confused when often our children meet our advice with resistance.  Why is that?  In actuality, we have put them down rather than helped them out.  For instance, suppose your daughter is too frightened to swim and you say:  You shouldn’t feel afraid.  You have really told your child that her feelings are stupid and invalid.  She will still feel afraid but now she also feels inferior and stupid because her fear has been undermined.

More closely examined, the “shoulds” are purely guilt producers.  The feeling generated by any “should” remark is initially guilt but this is quickly turned to resentment then resistance.  I have seldom known anyone who really liked being dealt “shoulds” on a regular basis.

An even more self-defeating “should” is placed in the past tense, namely, “I should have done this, or You should have remembered…”  To constantly berate yourself over what you should or shouldn’t have done is unbelievably destructive.  Why?  Because it is impossible to alter the past!  It has already happened and is past the point of change.  To continually beat yourself about it is reactive and destructive.  Progress and improvement are impossible leaving room only for guilt and self-hate.

What is a solution to “Shoulding” on yourself and others?  

I heartily encourage you delete all “shoulds” from your vocabulary and substitute them with “mights” and “wants.”  Remember that the first thing people will do when they feel forced is resist.  The “shoulds” are a form of force.  People resist vehemently.  Removing the “shoulds” from your dialogue will provide less force, thereby resulting in less unnecessary resistance.  There are three ways to rephrase the overused “should” in your daily conversations.  Each has a different level of intensity.  They are:

      “You might… “
      “I urge / encourage / suggest / recommend you consider… “
      “I want you to… ”  

Notice if you say to your overweight friend, “John, you might want to lose weight,” “I would encourage you to consider losing weight,” or “I want you to lose weight.”  He will feel much less resistant to your suggestion and more motivated to start losing weight because essentially he still has the option to refuse your advice without losing face or feeling stupid.  You, of course, select one of the three options depending on your style, the closeness of the relationship, and the desired level of impact.

Removing ourselves from the tyranny of the “shoulding” on ourselves by substituting the “wants” and “mights” is a beneficial change.  If you say to yourself, “I should lose weight,” it is likely you will feel badly that you have yet to do it.  On the other hand, if you say, “I want to lose weight,” it is more likely you will diet because your resistance is down, and your levels of guilt and bad feelings are diminished.

Remember, ultimately you are only going to do what you want to do.  You will be impressed with how much more you can get done with less resistance when you concentrate on changing those “shoulds” to “wants.”  I encourage you to take your list of “shoulds” and change them to “wants.”  Then read them aloud and notice how you feel different immediately!

In summary, the “shoulds” create resistance, when either self-imposed, or levied on others.  Wipe out all the “shoulds” and consider the “mights” when speaking with others, and use the “wants” when speaking to yourself.  You will be quite surprised with the positive results.


Romance Relationships & Rewards…

Women in Mid-Life! How do you find Mr. Right at this age? A panel of hopefuls and experts will be on the air with me! That and more on my next radio show – Sat. May 26 -Tune in to “The Dr. Mitchell Perry Show – Practice Common Sense” – This Sat. morning – 9:00-11:00am (PST)- KVTA AM 1520 on the radio or log on to www.kvta.com and click on “Listen Live” -write me here now with your thoughts or call me on the air! toll free 855 DR PERRY (377-3779) – at your service, Dr. P

May 2012


Taking things too personally is a colossal waste of time and energy. You will notice afterwards you had very little to do with what you catastrophized about. 

Dr. Mitchell Perry

Taking Things Too Personally “I take things too personally” is a remark I hear frequently from clients and friends. If your spouse comes home crabby, do you feel responsible, guilty, irritated, and finally, crabby yourself? If you fail to get an invitation to lunch, or to a party or wedding, do you take it personally and then doubt yourself and your popularity? If someone else gets the contract, do you believe you have failed to deliver? If your boss forgets to say good morning, do you automatically think that he/she is mad at you? If your guests want to go home early, does that immediately suggest they dislike your company?

Frequently, we have our whole day ruined because someone else’s behavior rubs off on us, and we feel responsible. We often find that whenever someone else is upset, we feel a great pressure that somehow we are to blame. As a result, we take their behavior personally, which makes us defensive, anxious, miserable and insecure.

 It is important to gain some understanding as to the roots of this problem, and look at some possible reasons why we become hypersensitive and take things too personally. With this understanding, you’ll gain some valuable perspectives on how to handle the problem.

1. Setting up a crisis to look for approval.
 Most of us have a great need for approval and validation from others. We want to get strokes and reinforcement on a regular basis from just about everybody. Sometimes, we will deliberately set up situations in order to receive reinforcement. When we take things personally, we are invariably upset by feeling responsible for another person’s mood or behavior. Often this creates a crisis whereby other people now have to reinforce us and give us the approval that we’re okay.

 2. Obtain insurance for belonging to others and against having to be alone.
 Many of us have a great problem with the thought of being alone. Moreover, many of us have spent our entire lives without ever having been alone, so the prospect of being alone creates great panic and anxiety. We’ll strive consciously and unconsciously to connect and belong with other people. Taking things too personally is a device to ensure “belonging” with others. When you feel responsible for another person’s behavior, you get to belong to that person’s situation and therefore can avoid feeling alone. You may find that if you have a great need to take care of other people and belong to them, you will also tend to take personally many of the moods and situations that they own. In this way, hypersensitivity becomes a device which allows us to avoid being alone and promotes the feeling that we have a place of great significance -we get to be responsible (for someone else’s behavior!)

3. Obtain insurance against maturing, growing up, and being an adult.
When taking things very personally, many people exhibit childish and infantile behavior. Sometimes they pout, behave in a socially inappropriate way, become very silent and cold, or become dramatic and explosive. Much of the time, this kind of behavior is both childish and counterproductive to progress in relationships. In addition, when people take things too personally, they fail to distinguish themselves from the behavior of others; they are unable to differentiate between what is inside or outside of them. They tend to lose track of whose behavior is whose! This condition, referred to as over-generalizing, occurs when an individual thinks that he/she is always, in some way, connected to the behavior of others (much the way children think). By taking something too personally, you have ensured that you can behave childishly because you think you must have something to do with another person’s mood or behavior. Consequently, the process of maturing, growing, and being adult is retarded.

4. We get to enhance our narcissism.
 Narcissism is the tendency to be wrapped up in ourselves – thinking the world revolves around us. Most adolescents feel this way. They are obsessed with their clothes, activities, social groups, fads, language, and their impact on others. They delude themselves into thinking they are necessary and central to the progress of everything. Narcissism is the need to be significant and important. Taking things too personally enhances narcissism because if we think we must be responsible for external events, then we’ve just reinforced the delusional need to be important and significant to everything and everyone around us. Certainly the tendency to take things too personally is quite common and extremely counterproductive. Hypersensitive people are always ready to react to others around them and are rarely, if ever, in a proactive control position. In addition, the thinking focus is geared toward outcome rather than process. For these types learning is absent and is unfortunately replaced by observing, agonizing, and obsessing about themselves.

What can you do? When you observe distressing behavior in someone else and find you’re taking it too personally, it will help to consider the following three questions:

1. “Am I responsible for what has just occurred?”
 When a loved one, friend, or business associate is in a bad mood, seems irritable, pouty, depressed, impatient, defiant, etc., ask yourself the question “Am I really responsible for this person’s behavior?” Often you will realize that you are seldom if ever responsible, and the other person has chosen to behave that way for a myriad of reasons unconnected to you. Further, if the person refuses to tell you what is wrong, avoid fretting over the problem and feeling anxious about it yourself. Just let the person be miserable and give him/her permission to explain whenever he or she is ready.

2. Is this my problem?
 This question is critical. There are times when “yes” appears to be the only answer. Even when the other person’s behavior has absolutely zero to do with you, it still appears to become your problem. However, it is important to remember that the problem only becomes yours when you choose to make it yours. It is much more likely, after some serious evaluation, you will conclude that the problem is in fact owned by someone else. So the answer to this question should typically be a very reassuring “no”.

3. Do I have to get upset?
Certainly you can get upset if you want. You can become anxious, worried, and lean toward crisis-junkie catastrophizing, but do you really have to? Is it a necessary obligation that you must be upset? Remind yourself that being upset is a choice, and that you can choose to remain calm and unaffected by the other person’s behavior. Further, it is important to renounce the thinking that becoming upset is a way of showing you care about another person. There are other numerous and appropriate ways of showing high regard. Caring is typically unrelated to self-thrashing.

These three questions are immensely helpful in controlling the natural knee-jerk reflex of becoming hypersensitive and taking things too personally. Whenever you start to automatically feel responsible for situations happening around you and begin doubting your own adequacy, these questions can help control that temptation.

So again, remember to ask yourself:
 1. Am I responsible for this person’s actions? 
 2. Is this my problem? 
 3. Do I have to get upset? 

When one or more of the answers is “no”; you will begin to notice rapid growth and recovery in yourself, and waste less time on unnecessary conflict, anxiety, or hypersensitivity.

In conclusion, ask yourself the following: 1. What am I noticing about my tendency to take things too personally? 2. What are my options? 3. What am I learning about these options? 4. What will I now do differently? You will see rapid growth in yourself and spend far less time consumed with unnecessary conflict or anxiety.

Hey Guys!
When your woman gets emotionally spun-up — sometimes she turns into the “Wicked Witch of the West” and so what do you do? Tell her she’s irrational? Abandon her? Pour water on her?

Do you ever notice that those all work poorly? What to do instead? SCOOP HER! (See below)

Dr. Perry on You Tube New: Scooping

 The Magic is in the obvious… so, Embrace Common Sense!

 This is the latest in my You Tube videos… SCOOPING! It works! Check it out.

As we all know, common sense is very uncommon! That is why we have put together some video vignettes that are sensible, prudent, practical, logical, and reflecting sound judgement. There are now 12 video vignettes on several subjects including:

  •  Responding to a Thank You 
  • The Yeah Buts 
  • The Success Formula 
  • Taking Things Too Personally 
  • Common Sense 
  • Shoulding on Others 
  • Reinforcement 
  • Multiple Options 
  • Thank You Notes 
  • Announcing Your Honesty 
  •  Scooping 

We’ve had great response so far, with over 2500 views! There are many more to come, so please let us know what you think. Log on to http://www.youtube.com/user/JMPerryLearning#p/u.

If you want to DO WHAT YOU KNOW, you must equip yourself with the TOOLS to help you engage COMMON SENSE.

Weddings, Relationships and Weight Loss

This podcast is a conversation about what a woman goes through to have the perfect wedding party without taking the long-term relationship into consideration. While a picture-perfect wedding is wonderful, being prepared for the years to come is essential, this podcast sheds light on the real needs for happiness and optimizes the prospects for a Golden Anniversary. Enjoy.

Dr. Perry’s Men’s Weekend

Check out this podcast of my radio show where I chat with a group of men about career, family, and specifically, the women in their lives. From career to their personal lives these very successful men discuss the challenges they have had in their past. I then guide them through the possibilities for their future success and happiness. As always it is all about common sense.