Should have, Would have, Could have

G’day all, as I have been asked out of the blue recently “how’s it hanging?” Don’t worry you don’t need to answer that!!!! Unfortunately I did answer the question…… But received no response???


Below is another guest post from Saf (@safsaf02561914). I’m going to try and keep my gob shut for a short while on this post (if you’ve been here before you will know how difficult this will be for me!!!)

What I will say is the below post is FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!

Thank you Saf xx

Should have, Would have, Could have

Hi everyone, Saf back again with pearls of other peoples wisdom!

This blog is all about the demands and commands we place on ourselves. A wee ( im Scottish) disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, this blog does not constitute help from a registered professional and is my own musing only.

Ok thats the legal bit over with!

So I have watched some, what I think, are really useful Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) videos lately presented and based on the work of Dr Albert Ellis and one presented by Dr Luann Helms Utah state University (links at the end of the blog). The videos look at CBT and RET (Rational Emotive Therapy) for stress and anxiety among many other mental health conditions. After watching them I was struck by how much I took from them, I have tried CBT before and reflection to varying levels of success but I took a lot from how the ideas in these resources where presented. In all likelihood I wont do these professionals any justice but I hope to share some of their ideas with you.

So to the title of the blog, one major idea that came out of watching the videos was this concept of being trapped by the would, should and coulds. Have you ever berated yourself with the following¦ I should have done that, I could have done this etc etc. Well I’m guessing yes, as it works for the blog so just roll with it. You could be at mercy of demanding and commanding that you and world bend to irrational perfection. To quote RET, the inference or assumption that you MUST have or be something; you MUST succeed , you MUST! Have approval, you MUST be perfect. Dr Albert Ellis speaks about the Dire need to make these happen when in fact you should be looking at Unconditional self-acceptance. Accepting you NO MATTER WHAT, and when Dr Ellis says no matter what he means it. He means, accepting yourself in the absence of the very things you may build your life upon, the absence of success, achievement, approval, talent and the list goes on.

Ellis talks about Irrational and Rational living, Irrational living is living to these infallible commandments that you MUST, yes it would be preferable not to fail, be a screw up , not get that job, or have negative things happen but it is not a MUST. This is irrational and utopian. It creates an overwhelming state of anxiety, setting you up for that inevitable fall. Now, there is nothing wrong with what Ellis terms rational concern. Of course you can be concerned at the habits that are having negative impact on your body or mind, of course you want to better yourself but and its a big but (snigger, sorry I just said big but, get it hmmm anyways) this only entangles you more into a cycle of worrying about the worry you focus so much on the fact you might fail that you have little energy left for actually tackling the issue that may cause the failure or negative consequence in the first place (I have got the t shirt on this one!) . You could live your life in a valuable way should these things not happen. Just because you fail once, does not mean you will fail again and again and even if you fail again and again this still does not mean you are a failure! You rate your actions NOT You! Ellis blows the idea of being a bad person of the water , universal rating; rating yourself as ultimately bad or good is hogwash according to Ellis and Helms. You do bad things; you do good things. Your behaviour will be liked and disliked by others. You decide what fits most with who you want to be. Shame and guilt, Helms states only leads to defining you as the problem. YOU ARE NOT! The things you do may be, these can be changed!

Helms talks about practising feeling a certain way, ask yourself this. if your returning again and again to that one or maybe more than one (if your me!) negative experiences in your day, week, year whatever; you are practising that pain! Now picture yourself rationalising this out, so you feel bad, you dont want to feel this way, so what do you do you go back to what was painful and you relive it over and over again wait.WHAT!!!

Really would you ever, even on a bad day, advise anyone else to do this???

Again, Im guessing but NO!!

Helms also talks about the ideal self, take one mountain (life), a path up that mountain (your journey) and your ideal self at the top. The idea is you are either getting further away from or closer to that ideal self, you never reach it because your ideal self, changes as you gain life experience and grow. What you can do is rate your action (not you!) on how close to your ideal self it takes you, how far up or down that mountain. This helped me put things into perspective and not judge all my actions as utterly terrible or utterly brilliant, both bring their own fall out and pressure. Try to put some space between yourself and IT, whatever it may be. Are you looking at the situation / issue or your interpretation of it. It is our interpretation of an event that calls forth the thoughts and feelings and ultimately how we deal with it. This is huge for me in my anxiety, I’m reactive rather than reflective. I jump to conclusions, assume its my fault or I am the fault. This is not popular, being anxious is not sexy or cool, and it does not inspire confidence in you from others, oops looking for approval again! Helms and Ellis point out that society does judged anxious people as good candidates for jobs, success or life WRONG!

If you can work, and it will be work!, to dial it back a notch or two it is very useful, not only from caveman era when we depended on fear and anxiety to stay alive but also now, it fuels self-development, caring for others, caring for ourselves and helping wider society (its still not a must!, even if you dont do these things you can live a valuable life). Dealing in absolutes and trying to guarantee, well .guarantees is..well good luck with that! In short get better yes, but give yourself the space to do that! Putting to many parameters up and deciding the world owes you, will not get you any further up that mountain. Look at the events that have brought you here, do they still have to upset you? Is being upset about them useful?

Dispute your reaction and interaction with your demons. Are you applying the what if monster or the should haves and could haves? You may not like your situation; it may be painful but is it intolerable? Or can you endure, youd be surprised!

Give up on the demands and commands, accept yourself and maybe you could even reach out and teach others in their turmoil (Hi JON!!, yes Im looking at you!). Above all else, when you can, use humour! (Thanks Dr Ellis).

Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Yo, exboozehound back again to sign off, told ya FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!

Keep smiling 🙂

2 thoughts on “Should have, Would have, Could have”

  1. wow…will have to read this again to take it all in but YES YES YES. Internal dialogue has a lot to answer for! These shoulds, woulds and coulds….do put a lot of pressure on us but we rarely notice them as negatives, all we seem to notice is the pressure and stress they create in us. We need to find the authentic us and be able to live with that, not other people’s expectations. If we live a lie to please others, it will eventually take its toll on us. We need to learn to be true to ourselves. Got to go but will come back to this later! Very interesting. Thanks Saf.

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