Vexatious? Why did I choose such a big word? I just love the definition. It means annoying or frustrating. Perfect word to fit my most unfavorite word: should! Why do I find it annoying. I feel it’s such a negative, preachy, judgmental, critical word. Whether someone says it to you or you say it to yourself, it comes across so negative. It may seem harmless enough for the person using it, but for the one receiving it, the result is judgmental. For example, let’s say you have a car accident and you’re relating the incident to a friend. The friend responds by saying “You should have bought a Subaru. They are safer.” See what I mean … judgmental and critical. Sheesh, you already feel bad enough. You don’t want to hear the words … “you should have.” They provide no support. Instead the person receiving the “should” feels like a heavy, steaming pile of regret was dumped on them!
The word should is a niggling kind of word. It’s like a little kid taunting “nah, nah, na, nah, nah.” It makes the person using it feel superior. “You know, you should use sun screen. You should do this or you should do that.” Sure, I suppose the “should” individual might be thinking they are providing valuable advice. However, I believe the person comes across as being a know-it-all and uppity. (If that happens to me, in my head I’m thinking … mind your own frickin’ business.)
When you say it to yourself, it’s also being critical as well. I think the word is in cahoots with the whole negative baggage known as regret.
So, what’s a good alternative for should? If one feels compelled to offer advice or butt in, how about expressions like … “may I suggest…?” That sounds much more caring with a dash of helpfulness. Or better yet if it’s a sad situation like the car accident, try saying something like “I’m so sorry.” Being empathetic is exceedingly more positive and feels much better. I also like when some might say, “Ya know, I use such and such and it works great for me.” I like that because it doesn’t put me on the defensive. It makes me have more of an open mind.
Words can be so powerful. And for me, the word should packs a wallop! Just food for thought.
For more on should and it’s cousins would and could, check out this blog: https://cronesapprentice.com/blog/