November 1, 2015

Are You ‘Shoulding’ On Yourself?

When I wake up most mornings, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and I could pretty much sing ‘Supercalifragalisticexpialidotious' after opening my eyes.

4cab6c6a12f0bb9e0ea17abf6ae361d8The hubs, however, is a night owl and needs a cup or two of coffee in the AM before the grunts turn into actual words.

So because I'm the morning person in our family, I've been the primary parent to get up first with our son Moses, making sure he's had breakfast in front of him.  And for the majority of those mornings (up until earlier this year)… I've pour him yet another bowl of cereal from a box….I've simultaneously poured a bucket of inadequacy over my head—burning a bigger hole in my heart called shame.


“Christa, your mom would never have just fixed cereal!  She got up an hour early to make sure you had breakfast FROM SCRATCH.  You SHOULD be more like her, making your family coffeecake, homemade biscuits, eggs, fresh fruit, juicing, or making smoothies like you had as a child!

Christa, you SHOULD be more like a picture off of Pinterest!

Christa, you SHOULD be making sure your family is getting better nutrition!

Christa, you SHOULD be more like Danielle, the ‘Against All Grain' mom on Instagram!



(Want to crawl into a hole, quit….OR….move into denial to cope….OR….try to make up for the inadequacy by overachieving in other areas).


Now you have to understand, none of these thoughts have ever been conscious.  In fact, almost every one of them grew from my subconscious mind.  So how do I know that they're there?

Because I've FELT them down in my bones.  I've FELT like I'm not enough as a mother.  As a friend.  As a speaker.  As a musician.  As a daughter.  As a wife.  As a Christian.

And when you feel like you're not enough, you're going to act like it……

Once again….that's just not okay.


I'm a bit perplexed from my last few blog posts.  Every since I have been targeting the monster of inadequacy and shame in the last few weeks, I've had more readers than usual…but I've also had less ‘shares' on Facebook and Twitter.  It's almost as if readers are coming back because it's striking a nerve, but they're too ashamed to let anyone know that their nerves were struck.

Which is fine.  It takes a lifetime to build up belief systems of shame, and probably more than a few blog posts to tear them down.

But I like that you're all reading….even if you're not sharing, agreeing, or commenting.  It proves that you're curious for more of this truth.

So, here's more truth to chip away at the inadequate walls around the heart.


A while back as I poured Moses his usual bowl of cereal, trying to justify my inadequate feelings with, “Well, at least it's organic cereal with organic almond milk,” I heard the Spirit speak to my heart.

“Christa,” He said kindly.  “You're the best mom in the whole universe for Moses, which is why I picked you.  I love to watch you mother your son, and I'm so so proud of you.  YOU.  ARE.  MORE.  THAN.  ENOUGH.”

Now you have to understand, He said this to me during a particularly hard week.  On paper, I'd been sick and in bed, lost my cool more than usual, and had been away from Moses enough to feel like a ‘bad mom.'  I'd resorted to feeding him a diet of cereal, frozen goods, breads and cheeses, and definitely felt like I hadn't measured up.

And yet, God still thought I was more than enough.

The thing about my Father is….He calls thing that aren't as if they are  (Romans 4:17).  He tells me what HIS TRUTH is over my life, instead of what might be TRUE about my current situation.

As the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about how amazing I am, tears begin to brim as a lump rose up in my throat.

Could I really be more more than enough, even now, as I'm pouring Moses cereal in a robe….instead of pulling homemade, gluten free, hot muffins out of the oven with an apron on?  Could I really be more than enough, right now, even though I've been short with him this week?  Could I really be more than enough in my marriage when I've been nitpicking my husband Luke lately?  Could I really be more than enough as a woman in ministry when I feel like I do so little? 

Could I really be more than enough when I know I'm capable of being so much more?


Years ago, my mom told me to stop SHOULDING on myself, which is a characteristic of the women in our family line.  I laughed at the play on words, immediately understanding the concept in my head to apply it in many areas of my life to see amazing results.  I stopped SHOULDING on myself with body image, and my body changed, I thinned down naturally, and my eating disorder went away.  I stopped SHOULDING on myself with all my achievements, wrote a book about how to get free, and speaking invites started coming in from all over the world.  But though I've stopped SHOULDING on myself in many areas, I still haven't yet cleansed my entire inner world of the nasty word.

But this is most definitely the goal.

My heart decided to stage a coup years ago, overthrowing the cruel tyrant of shame.  And as I'm dethroning shame from my life, I'm also kicking out the destructive word ‘SHOULD' from my vocabulary.  And here's why:






The word ‘should' always starts with LACK—but I'm never in LACK with the God of ABUNDANCE living inside of me, filling me with all that I need.  (2 Cor 9:8)

The word ‘should' always begins with what's WRONG—but everything I will ever do WRONG has been made RIGHT in Christ.  (2 Cor 5:21)

The word ‘should' always begins with what I am NOT—but all I'm NOT has been supercharged with a supernatural God, making me MORE THAN ENOUGH.  (Phil 4:13)


What if we all decided to throw the damaging word ‘should' out of our lives, and instead, replace it with the powerfully healing word, ‘COULD?





The past few months, I've been really going after my ‘shoulds' and changing them to ‘coulds.'  I'm determined to stop SHOULDING on myself.  And let me tell you, the word COULD has turned my shameful world upside down.  COULD takes off all the pressure.  COULD makes me feel hopeful.  COULD gives me endless possibility.


I woke up several weeks ago feeling sick, exhausted from being up with a newborn all night, and reached for the usual cereal box.


“I COULD make Moses eggs and bacon this morning.  But do I really want to feeling this exhausted—and does he even care?”  After checking with Moses, he wants cereal.  GREAT.  No shame!

“I COULD spend more time preparing food this morning, or I COULD curl up with Moses and cuddle before school?”  After checking with Moses, he wants a cuddle. GREAT.  No shame!

“I COULD spend time in the kitchen this morning, or I COULD just walk down to my favorite juice bar and take Moses on a breakfast date!”  After checking with Moses, he wants a date.  GREAT.  No shame!


The more I started listening to the ‘shoulds' of my heart the more I realized….there were all sorts of things that I felt guilty about THAT DIDN'T EVEN MATTER.  I was living under a pile of comparison, measuring myself up to other people, to Instagram accounts, to societal standards, to strangers.


Here's a few other SHOULDS that I've let go over the years:

I SHOULD play the violin because I'm good at it.”  Do I want to play the violin?  Nope.  Why do I feel like I should?  Because I'm ashamed that I'm wasting my gift and training.  Yeah, that's not a good enough reason–that's motivated by shame.  I COULD…but I still don't want to.  And the world will still keep spinning without me playing a concerto every day.

“I SHOULD spend time with God.”  Do I want to spend time with God?  Of course!  So what if I changed the sentence to….”I COULD spend time with God.”  Immediately, it takes the shameful obligation out of it, empowering me with a choice, and because my heart has already chosen ‘yes,' it's EASY to run into intimacy!

“I SHOULDN'T eat that piece of cake.”  Do I want to eat that cake?  YES.  But what if I change the sentence to….”I COULD eat that piece of cake.”  Suddenly, I have a choice—instead of feeling powerless.  I COULD eat it, but that sugar is going to make me feel bad, and I love fitting into my jeans.  (BTW, many times I answer this question as a YES.  And because I CHOOSE it, there's no shame!).


Ever since I started replacing my SHOULDS with COULDS a miracle has happened.

I've been more productive than I've ever been in my life.  

I've cooked more, laughed more, connected more, spent more time with Jesus, with my family, lost more weight, been healthier, been more successful, more fulfilled….

Because I can.


When you have a choice, it's much easier to make the right one.

So let me ask you a question…..

Are you shoulding on yourself?  And if so, could you throw that word out forever?


Write your thoughts below.  (:


Signature CBG








43 Responses to “Are You ‘Shoulding’ On Yourself?”

  1. Candace Payne

    I love this, Christa. Love the openness and practicality of how to shift from shame to choice. I loved feeling empowered to do something about shame I struggle against instead of feeling like I should become like the person writing the words on the other side…that I should know better and get my crap together. Replacing the should with could. Maybe they’ll become my “did”‘s and “done”‘s! Love you! Thanks for inspiring and calling out the hidden/dark/captive junk in hearts that long to love and be loved. Good stuff!

  2. I love this, it’s the renewal of my mind and I needed to read this tonight. I am feeling powerless to food these days, I am not obese but struggle mentally, but I now know the root is shame so thank you for sharing. Keep on keepin on girl!

  3. Priscilla Yee

    Thanks for sharing Christa. I have been blaming myself for something that I did that caused so much pain, hurts and heartache all over again after my divorce. I agreed to befriend a guy (my intentions were wrong in the beginning) thinking of having a relationship but after nearly 1.5years, he doesn’t even have any intention at all to start a relationship with me. But on the other hand, I have been helping, sharing, praying and encouraging him to walk closer with God. It was one of the most difficult situation I have encountered. I cried so much and ashamed that I even started this relationship from the beginning. Only recently I read someone’s blog about how God asked her to do something impossible so that her hurt, anger and even bitterness to slowly fade awa . Only then I realised that I am supposed to ‘love’ this man and not expecting any in return.. So now, instead of crying, I will continue to help him, be his friend and love him without expectation. I could have said no but I choose to say ‘Yes’ to God. Your sharing is a reminder for me. Thank you again.

  4. I wish I could choose to eat a piece of cake and not feel ashamed, but my eating disorder has far too strong a hold on me still, and no matter how many times I try to stop believing the lies it tells me, I still feel ashamed of the food I eat, I still binge, I still purge, I still weigh myself every single day, multiple times a day, and I still haven’t beat this. I’m beginning to think I never will.. I don’t think my ED will ever go away, even if I did stop “shoulding” myself.. 🙁

      • I haven’t read it.. although it sounds wonderful.. the only reason I haven’t is because my family and everyone who knows that I’ve struggled thinks i’m better. It probably seems incredibly stupid, but I don’t want them to know i’m reading a book about it, because I DON’T want to disappoint them by telling them i’m not recovered yet. I’ve hurt them enough.

    • Meghan Branlund

      I also had an eating disorder and so relate to your feelings! I’m here to say God has healed me like he did Christa and there is hope, keep on believing. Another great resource that really helped me was the community of the organization Wonderfully Made.

      • Thank you.. I purged four times today for the first time in a long time. I’m not trying to sound needy, I promise, but if you wouldn’t mind praying for me I would soo appreciate it!

    • Zane Nxumalo

      I have also been in a position where my family had the impression that I was okay when I knew that I wasn’t (I endured a trauma) and I am sure that like in your situation, it was something that was very difficult for them to relate to which made it difficult to talk about with them. But I’d recommend you buy Christa’s book if YOU would like to. Tell your parents that you’re buying it. It is hard I know that, but you will feel so much better and they will hopefully acknowledge the fact that you are trying to heal 🙂


      Believe it or not there is hope. I am nearing my 55th birthday and I have suffered from binge eating disorder since I was a college girl of 22 back in 1983. I find eating no flour and no sugar keeps the horrible cravings at bay, plus consistent prayer. I am pulling for you !


    I have felt my entire life that I was either ‘ too much ‘ or ‘not enough ‘ or a mistake, rather than making mistakes, and now at nearly 55, I have to erase all the tapes my mother implanted into my brain of never being good enough and being destined to be a loser, a failure and a mistake to have been born.
    I recently bought your book as I can only identify with current or past broken people. The Suzie Sunshines of the world do not appeal and unrelatable to me.

  6. Becky Selent

    Thank you so much for sharing this Christa! Every post I have read by you has spoken to my heart and has been an opportunity for Holy Spirit to take the truth you’ve uncovered and help me apply it my own life. Your post today was a very timely word for me as I’ve been realizing more and more just how much I do the same thing of “shoulding” on myself. I’m learning to not live out of performance or perfectionism but to not be so hard on myself and be alright with life being messy. I learning to live in a place of rest and intimacy not striving but giving myself choices and saying could instead of should. So once again thank you. God bless 🙂

  7. Miranda Brown

    Thank you so much Christa. This really spoke deeply to my heart. I have much to ponder and chat with Jesus about. I have been stuck believing a few lies, for WAY too long. Time to displace my shame with identity. Time to displace my SHOULD with COULD. Thank you. ❤️

  8. Wow, this is so speaking into my life right now. I’ve been struggling with depression, anxiety, burn-out and addiction for about 10 years now, and a lot of it is caused by the ‘I am not good enough’ kind of thoughts, and driven by the ‘I should have’ which has caused so much shame and despair. My identity seems formed by ‘I should have and because I didn’t now I should do’ which causes to step into the same trap over and over again.
    This blog really is a revelation. I COULD do so many things instead of I SHOULD do or have done them. Still finding my way on how to apply these truths into my life, but thanks so much for sharing this!

  9. Micah Hayden

    I just found your blog and have been reading your last few posts. Thank you for what you are sharing. We just moved back to the UK with our 3 little ones to be closer to my husband’s family and to help start a Bible college. Needless to say, this year of transition has been difficult. As a wife, mom, and leader within a ministry, I have felt like such a failure. All the “shoulds” have been overwhelming to where I haven’t enjoyed any part of our move. So as I’ve prayed and asked God to show me where I’m missing it, I have been digging to find some sort of help to shed light on how to get out of my state of being overwhelmed. And then I saw this post in my inbox. After reading your words, God has highlighted all the little things where I could make life easier right now. Areas where His grace is enough and His grace is present to allow me to rest and just let Him be my Dad. I know He didn’t move us so I could be miserable and make my family miserable. 🙂 He moved us because He has a beautiful future ahead for us. Everything we need right now is available to us in Him. I just need to choose to rest there.

    I love your writing. Thank you!

  10. Marcella

    Yes, everytime there has been a mistake there has been a SHOULD. Will replace with COULD. Don’t want the shame and condemnation that seems to automatically come with what SHOULD “do” or “have been done”.

  11. Tamery Stafford

    This is so great. I love the idea of being powerful in each choice. I love the concept of asking your kids or whoever about their preferances… so many times we assume our kids want something that they really don’t care about. I have stopped feeling guilty over so many things. God knows I’m trying. However, I am going to try your COULD option… that’s a new twist and I hope that it encourages me to not only not feel guilty, but to motivate me to do more of the things that are in my heart to do. Thanks so much for always being so honest. It’s crazy how there are so few honest people on blogs that have healthy advice. Love you! Tamery
    +it was a little difficult to be able to post on here… maybe that’s why you don’t get as many shares and comments? I had to sign up with a new account or share my fb with Discus. 🙁 figured it out. so all is well. I AM over 40 tho. sooo I COULD give up on technology OR press through and be cool. and I did and I am 🙂

  12. This is the perfect blog for me right now! Christa, thank you thank you! I have been in a tough season of comparison, comparing myself with other women, friendships, and even my gifting. Also a tough season of body image, just so afraid of gaining weight that it’s been hard for me to even control what I eat. I love this so much! It speaks volumes to me and i will use this in my life to stop SHOULDING on myself and start speaking I COULD.

    Hannah 🙂

  13. This was so timely for me. I just realized how often I operate out of shame. I’ve been carrying an umbrella of shame, and walking in a habit of shoulding, while also expecting myself to live in a perfect sunshine world. Clearly, that doesn’t work well and self defeat is exhausting. I think I am ready for a life of “coulds!” Thanks Christa!

  14. Ruth Burke

    This is so real. I love it Christa. In my heart I recognise that comparison and pressure isn’t healthy at all but I put it down to a personality glitch. What I love about your blog is that you address real heart issues while empowering people with the tools they need to step out of that mindset, always pointing to Jesus in the process. I’m putting this one into practice for sure!!!

  15. Freedom! What a gift! I conquered this battle years ago, then found myself losing to it again in a way that trapped me in a bitter marriage for 10 years and made me a horrible mom, friend and daughter. But COULD I change?? Yes! And I did! It’s still a daily process, learning to accept love again, seeing my little boy and past through eyes of could not should. My ex and I get a long wonderfully and there is loving support from all the family for our boy. Life is good, and God is great! Something the “shoulds” never allowed me to experience. Thank you for your genuine sharing!

  16. This is a tough battle but it can be won with the power of Jesus!. Love the suggestion of “could!” It’s so hopeful. No more shame and condemnation! Thanks for your honest sharing, Christa.

  17. Sara Core

    You probably have, but I wanted to be sure you’ve read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. It’s an excellent book in which she studies shame & vulnerability. Her mantra is I AM Enough! I love your thoughts today! Thanks!
    Sara Core

  18. Kat Kelley

    This made me think of a training I went through for the rape crisis center….as an emergency room advocate and caring for people after they have endured unspeakable trauma, the biggest point that was made was to never use the word should. It takes away power. That one little word takes away your right to choose, and makes you feel like you don’t have the right to object or feel differently. It was such a cool mindset to think about really really empowering the women around me….but it makes you wonder…how often do we empower ourselves? Great post christa! Thanks. 🙂 -KatK

  19. Anjelica Farino

    I think the should’s in my life creep in, in the form of subtle feelings of inadequacy. I just got my first real job out of college and I’m in full time ministry. I know it’s where I’m called but ministry is kicking my butt! The should’s like to get in my mind and tell me I can’t actually do the job..especially when it feels overwhelming and I am the youngest and newest staff member. I know it’s just a season but it’s definitely a challenge and blessing to know I can CHOOSE joy every day no matter how I feel at work.
    Thank you Christa! See you in Ohio 🙂

  20. I’m loving your transparency and vulnerability of the recent posts. You’ve been able to put into words the feelings and struggles that I’ve been going through and you’ve been able to articulate breakthrough and victory as well! Love you and your fiercelessness to face reality and its pain! You have such a beautiful and unique ministry. Love U!! Keep fighting for truth! x

  21. Kathy Emeigh

    Bringing the “shoulds” to light is just the best way to obliterate those nasty things! Thank you so much for your honest words of wisdom and insight and truth. Comparison is a “killer….” and ever so subtle….never the tender, sweet voice of our loving Father.

    Written from my “purple chair….”

  22. Been struggling with this bad lately! I ran the church nursery at 16, was voted “most likely to have children first” and “most likely to have 6 kids.” Now I’m a few months away from turning 40, no kids or husband and I’ve been sinking fast. Was pretty strong about it (most days) for my adult life, but now my high school friends are celebrating their kids high school graduations on Facebook. I feel like I messed up everything and have been going over what I should have done and wondering why a 39 year prayer was not answered.

  23. Ashlee Menard

    Thank you for your blogs. It always seems they were written just for me 🙂 I have always been that person, a lot more now lately though..i Should wake up earlier, I should pray more, I should be a more organized, clean wife, I should not buy things for myself because I don’t give enough to others, should workout more,…the list goes on and on.. The thing is though, that my list of things I should do, doesn’t seem so bad. I know something is out of whack though, because it’s affecting my relationship with God. When I go to spend time with him I think of how selfish I am for not witnessing to my coworker or wanting to buy clothes for myself when I could buy them for others who have less than me..such silly sounding things when I write them out, but real to me nonetheless. Where is the balance between knowing you should do more and improving yourself and not being so hard on yourself for failing at these things we “should” do. I know I have a fear of letting them go because I want to improve myself.

  24. Dear Christa,
    I am entering treatment for a severe eating disorder Wednesday and I will be reading your book while I am there. Would you ever consider writing to me? Even just a quick note? I’m scared.

    Thank you


  25. Susie Mehlig

    Thank you for this article!!! I’ve struggled so much with shoulding on myself. It’s so ugly. it really keeps you from doing those very things your “shoulding” on yourself for. Thanks for bringing light and truth and a path to freedom! 🙂

  26. Christa Toulson

    My name is Christa, too! 🙂 And, I too, am a recovering “should-er.” I just had a baby 7 months ago, and I should myself almost every second of every day. I’m learning more about grace, and especially God’s grace for me as a new mom, and as a woman He loves. This post really rings true for me and sets me free even more from shoulding myself! Thank you so much for sharing!

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