Replace “should have” with this for a happier you

You know how I’m a big fan of semantics? I think the words you choose are important in life–far more important than most people give them credit for. After all, novelists painstakingly pore over the exact word to use to perfect a line of dialogue, a setting, a scene, a mood, and more. Why don’t we put the same effort into changing the words we use by habit so that they are no longer hijacking our narratives? Take back control!

Replace "should have" with this for a happier you

In this blog post, the phrase I want replaced is “should have,” because those two words just seem shrouded in negativity. After all, there’s a sense of remorse, guilt, and shame in those words, a sense of being stuck in the past. Have anyone ever told you not to use the words “what if”? It’s a similar idea.

There’s no point wondering “what if,” just like there’s no point regretting what you’ve already done with what you “should have” done. You have to move on! Look ahead!

So what should you replace those two words with? “Next time.”

Instead of thinking, “I should have been more careful,” think, “Next time I WILL be more careful.” The focus has shifted to learning from the mistake or the flaws in whatever’s already been done. The focus has shifted to improvement! 

Grammar-wise there’s much more strength in the future tense of WILL than in the passive tense of should have or would have, anyway. Can you feel that shift in power when you say that shift in tenses?

Replace "should have" with this for a happier you
Replace "should have" with this for a happier you

Okay, enough of my being a grammar nerd or logophile or what have you. It’s the same when talking to somebody else. Instead of making them feel bad with “You should have double checked,” tell them in a more constructive manner, “Double check next time.” It’s like you’re saying, “You have another chance, so do it right then!” And you have to give yourself that same chance when talking to yourself. After all, remember my post about silencing negative self-talk? Treat yourself like you would treat a friend.

See Also:  8 things to stop saying if you're learning to love yourself

It’s really as simple as that! Concept-wise anyway. Habits are hard to change and doing so takes a lot of time. Do not get disheartened. This will be another form of exercise. Shifting something as seemingly trivial as this will shift something greater–your mindset. And your mindset is the most powerful thing you have!


gallantly gal

P.S. Special surprise! Letting you know there’s going to be another exciting new post from me tomorrow! Keep an eye out on my social media, like Twitter, because it will not be posted on Gallantly, gal 😉



  1. Audra Edmonson

    November 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Love this! I actually have a post about a similar idea coming out soon – because I agree, words are incredibly powerful in how they affect our self image and life. The stories we tell about what goes on around us and our own lives to ourselves can really help or hinder us.

    I’m going to start doing this for sure! “Next time”…

    1. gallantly gal

      November 1, 2018 at 11:20 pm

      I can’t wait for your post! I have so many words I want to replace with positive ones. Maybe I should make a poster for myself haha. Words are so powerful indeed! We tell our stories; even though we act like we don’t shape them we actually do have control of the narrative, we just don’t always realize it. Thanks for reading 😀 I hope we both succeed with our “next time’s”

  2. Christy B

    November 1, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    Who doesn’t like surprises 😉 I’m all for banning the word “should” as it involves being told to be a certain way when it’s best to “just be”… Another great post!

    1. gallantly gal

      November 1, 2018 at 11:23 pm

      Yes that’s such a beautiful way to put it. Exactly! Even just “should” without the “have” does set these expectations and dissatisfactions. Thank you 🙂

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