Read, Run, Repeat

A tale of fitness, books, food, and life in between

The “Should Be” Syndrome

on November 19, 2013

I have a very bad habit.

(well, I actually may probably definitely have more than that, but let’s focus on just one today, mkay?)

I have a very bad habit of falling into the mindset of what “should be” aka The “Should Be” Syndrome – this is when I start to focus on all the things that I should be doing, or what my life or body should look like. I have noticed this nasty habit coming to the forefront as we start to really plan and make decisions on our wedding – but I’ve had this “syndrome” for as long as I can remember.


The comment that sparked this post went something along the lines of “I have this picture in my head of what our wedding should look like, and xyz isn’t it.” P and I then went on to talk about all these self-imposed “restrictions” so to speak I have in my head, due to pre-conceived notions of what the wedding should be.

… because really, the wedding can be anything we want it to be. It doesn’t have to be in a grand ballroom with a 10 piece orchestra and butlers swooping around with trays of food… just because that’s where the original vision started (when I was 5), doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

In weddings, and in life, there really isn’t any “Should Be”s! Well, at least there shouldn’t be 😉 (pun totally intended)

Some of the other “should be” syndrome thoughts I fall prey to:

  • I SHOULD be able to run at least a 10K
  • I SHOULD be working out more. Or for a longer period of time.
  • I SHOULD be planning/cooking/prepping food that is more “clean”
  • I SHOULD have my house clean and organized at all times
  • I SHOULD be skinny
  • I SHOULD have the housework done and complete before P gets home.
  • I SHOULD have chores, work, workout (etc) completed before I give myself time to relax
  • I SHOULD try CrossFit , everyone else seems to love it
  • I SHOULD be a Mom already
  • I SHOULD be in a comfortable financial situation
  • I SHOULD be able to leave the past in the past.


*Phew* I’m exhausted after just writing those all out. I may not have lots of food or exercise “rules” that I restrict myself to – but I sure seem to have a lot of life “rules” or expectations that I abide by (and I am totally a rule follower – unless it involves staying within the speed limit).

Some of the things in that list are part of who I am – namely the whole “work before play” one – I like to have all of the “work” stuff done before I relax – mostly because I can’t relax (well, that’s true in general actually!), if I know I’ll have to just get up in 15-30 minutes to do the dishes, for example. And the last bullet on the list is one I’d just like to be able to do.

But the rest of them – some of them are just plain ridiculous. Having to try CrossFit? I’d try it to experience it and say I’ve tried it – but I don’t have to. And the being a Mom thing – well, life just didn’t work out that way. The house does not have to be “perfect” all the time – and sometimes there are other things that are just more important or necessary then cleaning the kitchen counters and sweeping the floors (I write that, but that mindset is a hard one for me). And P doesn’t care if the house is clean. In fact, he’d be much happier if I’d do more things that make me happy. And I work out about 5 days a week for about an hour – I’m happy with that right now.


It’s only my own rules that restrict me – my “Should Be” syndrome.

I don’t have the answers on how to change the way I think – other than being conscious and aware of it, and stopping some of those irrational “shoulds” when they occur. I do know that there is not one way to do things. Not everyone fits into a mold – nor should they. There are very few things in life that actually “SHOULD” be done a particular way. I SHOULD be happy with exactly who I am right now (and that’s a true “should be!)

I do know that I’m the happiest I’ve been in a very long time. There’s always room for improvement, but I’m really excited about what’s to come. So, I must be doing something right – despite of my “Should Be Syndrome.” So, I guess I’ll just keep truckin’ along – shooting down the irrational “shoulds” and keep figuring out what makes me most happy!

Answer me this: Do you have “Should be” Syndrome too? What are some restrictions you place on yourself? Do you have any “cure?”

~ Brittany xo

P.S.  The Elf4Health challenge is back in business for this year! I am super excited and am already signed up. Head on over to or for more details and to sign up — Honestly, it’s one of the best things you could do for yourself this holiday season!! Keeps you motivated, it’s a ton of fun, and you get to meet new friends — plus, there are prizes!  Participants need to be registered by 11/22 (that’s friday!) Maybe I’ll get to be your Elf!!


9 responses to “The “Should Be” Syndrome

  1. Taryn says:

    I definitely have “Should Be” Syndrome :/ Lately, it’s mostly been when it comes to exercise and the way my body looks. But it’s also my job, where my relationship is, etc. You’re right, it’s exhausting.. and a waste of time Great post!

    • Brittany says:

      All good points– and also a very hard habit to break! I, too, am struggling with the whole body image thing and the frustration in my lack of weight loss 🙂

  2. Definitely. I should run at least 30 miles a week, I should start training for my next marathon, I should be more into dating, I should read more nonfiction books (even though I’m a total sucker for YA fiction!), I should not have dessert everyday…

    I didn’t even realize how many I had until I read this post! Super powerful to think about. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. Brittany says:

    I know, right?? Where do they come from?? Thanks for reading :))

  4. I LOVE this message! So real and positive. Thanks for sharing 🙂 So glad I found your site on the Elf4Health Facebook page.

  5. “Should be” and “what if” are two words that can be so soul-crushing if we allow them to have power. I wish I had an easy way to tune those two words, but I don’t. It’s such a slippery slope letting our minds wander there.

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