Should Statements

Should statements are a form of cognitive distortion. Should statements are statements which claim things should be a certain way of which they are not. This is a fallacy because the should statement implies that reality got it wrong and that the person making the should statement is correct.

Personally, I believe eliminating should statements from my rhetoric will result in statements which are more accurate and useful.

In the following section of this article, I provide an example of a should statement, followed by an explanation of how it is a should statement, and what else might be said instead of the should statement.


One example of a should statement is;

“We should go to the beach today.”

The above sentence is an example of a should statement because it implies that not going to the beach would be incorrect. In other words, not traveling to the beach would be wrong.

Instead of the above statement, more accurate statements are; “I want to swim and get some sunshine at the beach today.” or “Let’s go relax at the beach today.”

A double example is;

“I really shouldn’t have another egg roll… but I must.”

The above statement is a double example of a should statement. The first part implies having another egg roll would be wrong while the second part implies not having it would be wrong. This in itself is an internal contradiction in the statement, aside from the overall fallacy of implying there is a right or wrong course of action while eating an egg roll.

Instead of the above statement, more accurate statements are; “I have eaten 2 egg rolls already, I’m not sure I can eat another.” or “I’m full, but I’m going to eat another egg roll.”

The elimination of should statements from the rhetoric lead to a clearer picture of what the person is communicating about themselves and the world with which they are interacting.


Definition – according to

“Should statements – Patterns of thought which imply the way things “should” or “ought” to be rather than the actual situation the person is faced with, or having rigid rules which the person believes will “always apply” no matter what the circumstances are. Albert Ellis termed this “Musturbation”.”


The following linked article has some useful information on how to deal with avoiding “Should Statements”;…

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