Merriam-Webster defines "should" in the following ways (emphasis added):
1 - used in auxiliary function to express condition
2 - used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency
3 - used in auxiliary function to express futurity from a point of view in the past
4 - used in auxiliary function to express what is probable or expected
5 - used in auxiliary function to express a request in a polite manner or to soften direct statement
Let's think about this for a moment. How many times a day do you use the word, "should" in reference to yourself? How many times do you use it for others? Now, how often do you put "should" and "have" together? That, my friends, is a one-way ticket on the guilt train and it needs to stop.
"I should have baked chocolate cake instead of vanilla."
Well, why didn't you? Is it because you're a slacker? Is it because you don't care? Is it because you're in favor of vanilla over chocolate? Do any of these questions even matter?
NO. When you set yourself up with a "should have" statement, you ignite an almost never-ending self-beratement (<-- it's a word now!) in your mind. How long does it take for you to go from "should have" to "I'm a horrible person?" When something is probable or expected and you do not fulfill those obligations, you spiral into a "should have, could have, would have" cycle that ends in pain, depression and guilt.
Enough already. Get the word "should" out of your vocabulary just like you would any other curse word. Instead of "I should go to work today" say "I'm going to work so that I can provide for my family."
Instead of "I should have said something to her" say "Even though I didn't get the words out this time, next time I will be more relaxed and more prepared."
Instead of "I should try to be a better parent." say "Every day I am the best parent I can be as I continue to grow with my children."
To get rid of the "should have's," you must forgive yourself. Forgive every "missed opportunity," every "failed obligation," every "unfulfilled expectation." There is no place for "should have" in your life. You don't need self-projected guilt in your life. Forgive and move on.
I implore you to try this for one week and see if you notice a difference in your own thoughts and behaviors. After that week, come back and tell me how you feel. Look for tomorrow's post to help you even more.