ADHD, faith

The Shoulds of Life Can Destroy You

Should is a messy word.

It’s a messy word that messes with my mind.

I should do this.

I should be able to do that.

Should is like an arrow that shoots guilt into the heart of the receiver and drags them down to the bottom of the Pit of Despair.

With one word, I can make someone else feel like a total loser.

With one thought, I can make myself feel like a total loser.

As my children get older, should takes on a new approach: I should have done this or I should not have done that.

Should doesn’t just destroy me: it can destroy my kids.

How many times have I said, “Well, you should be able to do that!”

I have kids with special needs and should isn’t a fair gauge.

I have ADHD and some massive health problems. Should isn’t a fair gauge for me either.

Should doesn’t have realistic goals.

It looks at the ideal.

Should is a perfectionist who doesn’t want to face reality.

It asks “What would happen if no one had any roadblocks?” and measures everything by that ruler.

The problem with this? We don’t live in an ideal world.

We don’t live in a world free of roadblocks.

We live in this world.

Everyone –no matter who they are– has some impediment ….mental illness, chronic health issues, learning disabilities, childhood trauma –just to name a few.

Should criticizes and tears down the confidence we have and ignores the progress we’ve made.

It changes around our thought process from being content with what is working to being dissatisfied with life.

This is what I have learned about should:

  1. It’s a liar. A lot of times, the things I tell myself I should be able to do aren’t true, or at least they aren’t true for me. “I should be able to do calculus.” Really? I have dyscalculia, a math-based learning disability. I need to change the should to something rational. Something like, “I might be able to do calculus if I get a tutor who specializes in learning disabilities.” Here’s another, “I should be able to keep my house clean.” That pang of guilt from the should kills me, but it’s also not based in reality. I have over 20 medical diagnoses. Some days, I can barely walk. Would I expect a friend in that condition to keep her house immaculately clean, the standard I hold myself to? No. A more reasonable thing to say to myself is: “I might be able to keep the house clean if I get help.”
  2. It’s destructive. If I allow the shoulds of life to take over my heart and mind it destroys every bit of joy I have. There’s only so much that I can control. What is in my power, I can reasonably expect myself to do. What’s outside my control –my health, my children’s disorders, my friend’s attitudes– those I should not guilt myself about and should not second-, third-, and fourth-guess myself. One thing that’s in my power: how I use my words and what thoughts I entertain and encourage. Every little bit of joy, happiness, and confidence can be destroyed by that little word should if I let it have control over me.
  3. There are many versions of should. For example: “If you really loved her, you would have put her in Karate so she’d be able to protect herself.” What is that statement really other than a veiled should intended to bring shame and heartache? How many times have I hidden a guilt-inducing should in a sentence that stung someone like a dagger?

Should is just a helping verb.

Am I really going to let a little verb have this much power over my life and my family’s life when I have the power to change the narrative, power to change my own outlook and happiness, not to mention that of those around me?

Words are very powerful.

Although we liked to reject the power of words as kids (Remember “I’m rubber –you’re glue….”?), the truth is that words have the power to build up, to tear down, to sustain us through the hard times, or compel us to give up. Words can even make us believe there is no hope.

Worse yet, if we say something often enough or loud enough, we start to believe it no matter how far from the truth it may be.

So, I’ve started intentionally changing my narrative. I am trying to rethink my shoulds.

For instance, when I’m panged with guilt and say to myself, “You should have had him in piano years ago!” I change it to, “I could have had him in piano years ago, but we didn’t have the money. I had to make the best decision for the whole family.”

This is truth.

Truth sets me free.

And, poof, the guilt is gone.

Should has lost its power.

When I’m frustrated and think “He should be able to write this” about one of my kids, I change the words I’m using to “could.” “He could write this if he didn’t have this learning disability. I’ve worked really really hard to get him to the place where he is. He may not be where other kids are, but he’s actually doing really well.”

I’m truth-checking my own statements so they do the least damage possible to me and to those around me.

I know should is a liar and that his lies are destructive. So, I’m not letting his lies –no matter what form they take — settle in my heart and mind and contaminate my joy and peace.

Check your shoulds at the door.

Don’t let them ruin you –or those you care about.

You have the power over your inner voice and over the words you speak to others.

Speak truth.


Sarah Forbes

If you found this helpful, you might find these posts about seeking peace and about giving yourself and your kids grace helpful, too.

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank

How Do I Do It All?


What I Wish I Had Known When I Started Blogging

I was recently asked what I wish I had known when I started blogging or what I would tell others who were starting to blog. Apparently, I have inspired some friends to start blogs of their own. This is the advice I passed on to them:

  1. Do it because you love it. Writing is hard. If you are doing it for accolades, to make other people happy or to impress others, you will give up. You need to do it because you are driven to do it for yourself, because you want to help others, and because you desire to make a difference. When I started out blogging the first time back in 2008ish, I was trying to look like all the perfect type-A blog moms –and I failed miserably. I wanted to look perfect, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t. It wasn’t honest. Now, I write because I love to write and because I love to help people. I write what I write even if people don’t like it because I am not trying to make anyone happy. I am trying to do what I think is right. I am okay being me.

  2. People will disagree with you. Sometimes in very unkind ways. That’s okay. Expect it. If you don’t have any haters, you’re probably not doing it right. The good news is that WordPress, as well as most forms of social media, have ways of blocking people who threaten, spam, or otherwise harass you. If you start off expecting it to happen, you won’t be quite as shocked as I was. I am a nice person, and I expect everyone else to be nice. That is not the reality of the world –or especially of the internet.

  3. Be honest. But not too honest. You want to write about things that you know about and that are near and dear to you. But, what you don’t want to do is come across as whiny or complaining. There are some topics that I wish to write about, but which I have refrained from addressing simply because the issue isn’t resolved enough in my life and in my own mind to be able to write it in a positive way. There are some topics I won’t address because they are too personal or it would air my family’s dirty laundry. Establish boundaries and respect those around you. This is important. For instance, I never discuss my husband or children without their permission. Too much honesty in that area could be a breach of trust. My relationships are not worth a few more views.

  4. WordPress is better than Blogger. WordPress wins in the blogging category for a number of reasons, but especially because they have excellent customer service. Unfortunately, Google products are lacking in the help category. For example, I am still trying to figure out why Adsense (a different Google product) has blocked my blog, and I can’t get a clear answer from anyone there about it! I actually like Google and Google products but I haven’t been impressed with their customer service. I have, however, been incredibly impressed with the quality and speed of the help I receive from WordPress. I have used both Blogger and WordPress, but in the end decided on WordPress.

  5. Self-host if you can. Hosting has to do with where your blog’s files are stored. You can store your files with WordPress for free with conditions, but what I learned the hard way is that when you decide that you want to upgrade (so you can make money), you have two choices: a WordPress upgrade which is expensive or another service which is less expensive. The problem is that WordPress makes it hard to transfer your blog files to another service. The transfer was so fraught with troubles that I ended up transferring back to WordPress and paying the higher prices just because the issues on the other server were so great it wasn’t worth the time to fix them –even if I had known how to fix them. You can resolve this problem altogether by starting out using WordPress’ program but not storing your files with them. If you start out hosting in a different site than WordPress, you never have to transfer your files and never have to potentially lose hundreds of dollars and thousands of readers when your blog is down and unreadable. Alternatively, if you want excellent service from a really great company, you could host with WordPress and pay their higher prices for their excellent services. It is worth it, in my opinion, but we all have budgets. I didn’t plan to pay this much, but I do think it is worth what I pay now that I know that many other hosting companies Have really horrendous customer service.

  6. It is best to start out with a little capital. It is best but not necessary. It takes money to make money. If you want to make money from your blog, you are probably going to have to invest some money. The first money I spent (about 6 months after I started the blog) was about $100 that upgraded my blog to a better WordPress package allowing advertising (the free package doesn’t allow advertising). In all, I have spent hundreds of dollars in the last year. I made my first bit of money this last month from advertising. It accumulated over the course of the year until it was large enough for me to receive a check. However, I am still in the hole compared to how much I have spent on the blog. Some of that was the amounts I spent on the other hosting service that didn’t work out. Some of that money I was unable to get back. Experience tax, I guess.

  7. Utilize social media. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. What you are writing can be totally awesome, but if no one is reading it, it won’t matter. Share it –but don’t be obnoxious about it. I haven’t invested in ads yet, but I read that Facebook Ads are actually pretty successful. Most of my views come from Facebook. I share my posts on my groups and hope others will share it if they find it useful. My plan is work on Pinterest next.

  8. It is a lot of work. It has taken daily work for 18 months –sometimes multiple people hours upon hours– to make only a hundred dollars. I didn’t go into it wanting to make money. There are better ways to make money, honestly. This is a passion for me –not a job. Very few people get rich quickly by blogging. It is a long and arduous process. If you don’t love writing, it might not be worth it to you.

  9. Take a break when you need it. After October when I posted daily on social media for nearly 3 weeks, I took a 2-week break and changed my posting schedule. I was beat –and it was affecting my health. All the attention on social media was affecting my health so much so that my labs came back all askew. My doctor said that I needed to regulate myself and set healthier boundaries for myself, or she would dictate what I could do to preserve my health. Know your limits and back off before you make yourself sick. Don’t do what I did.

  10. Educate yourself. There is a ton of information online about running a blog, online business, ect. If you aren’t writing, I recommend that you learn about how to run a blog. It is confusing, and there is a long learning curve, honestly, but it is worth it. Knowing that I have helped others and made a difference in people’s lives makes the threats, spammers, and stress worth it.

  11. Don’t compare. Measure your success against yourself, not others. If I compare myself to someone who has been blogging for years or caught a break when I didn’t, I will get discouraged and stop. If I measure myself against where I was before and where I want to go, I will have a better and more realistic view of my blog.

  12. Stay true to yourself. Your most popular most might not be your favorite posts. I love writing about my faith and chronic illness, but my readers love reading about homeschooling and ADHD. My most viewed posts are not the ones that I poured my heart and soul into. Honestly, many of the posts that have gotten the most views are the ones that I wrote on an impulse because I thought it was useful information. Apparently, I am pretty good at writing about homeschooling and ADHD, because people enjoy reading it. However, I can still write about things that are really dear to me, like my faith, while also writing about things that are more popular. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I have read that you’re supposed to pick a niche topic and stick to that. But, that isn’t true to who I am. I decided to write about what I am good at writing about (ADHD and homeschooling) while also staying true to my passion (my faith and illness).

    I hope this helps some inspiring bloggers. It has been a long journey but definitely a rewarding one!

    Sarah Forbes

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Posts You Might Have Missed

With the recent changes on the blog, there seems to have been some hiccups. For some reason, it seems that many of my followers were not receiving emails notifying them of new posts. I hopefully have the issue resolved, and so I decided to do an update post in case you missed some of my recent posts.

I created a much needed ADHD Clinician Database. Do you know an awesome clinician? Please, share it with our members in the comments of this post. It is such a great need. It is so hard to find good doctors!

ADHD Clinician Database


My family has a history of hoarding. When you have ADHD, mental health issues, or chronic health problems, you can easily fall into hoarding. This post is an honest, plain look at the multi-generational effect that hoarding has on families and my endeavor to break the hold the possessions have over our lives.

Overcoming Hoarding


What do you do if you think that you or your child has ADHD? Where do you start? How do you know if the doctor you are seeing is a good doctor to treat ADHD? This an more is discussed in this pose about getting an ADHD diagnosis. It is especially important to have a full phycological evaluation to rule out other conditions. 50% of ADHDers have additional psychiatric conditions and these conditions can significantly complicate ADHD and its treatment.

How to Get an ADHD Diagnosis


Hopefully, the glitching is over, but thank you for your patience as we work on upgrading and improving the blog.

Sarah Forbes