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Stop ‘should-ing’ yourself

After Charles’ addiction and suicide, I looked back with all the wisdom and all the facts of “after” and told myself I should have done something this way or that. I tortured myself with it. The coulda, woulda, shoulda consumed me for months and years.

I blamed myself for something I did, something I said, things I didn’t say or do. People tried to talk me out of it. They’d swear up and down that it wasn’t my fault. But that guilt baggage is part of the process of accepting the unfair end I’d been given.

But it’s not just parents of those who die by suicide that “should” themselves. It’s almost all of us at some point.

Parents with a loved one in addiction and even parents with a child suffering from a disease. Because there is always, “Should I have had children if I knew I had this gene to pass on?” People in hospice looking back at their lives “should” themselves. And so on.

“Should-ing” is not productive. It’s also contagious. Once I start a conversation with someone else about it, they’ll join in and “should” themselves. That’s not healthy.

Breaking the habit can be hard.

Treating “the shouldas” started with awareness. Then I thought I was cured. But there were relapses. Then more awareness.

I’m not cured but I do recognize it and rebound faster. I do it less often by reminding myself, “Is that productive?” That way I can move forward and not let it pin me helplessly to the wall.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

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