Shouldaholics Anonymous

Are you a shouldaholic?


Normal perfectionists can strive for excellence without harm to their self-esteem. Neurotic perfectionists, or shouldaholics, will set unreasonably high expectations and then beat themselves up when they don’t achieve them.

A shouldaholic overuses the word ‘should’ by:
  • setting high expectations (I “should” do this perfectly, easily, without help, etc.; At the same time, I “should also” be a great mother, wife and manager)
  • measuring self-worth by accomplishment (I “should only” be proud, satisfied, etc. if I have done this by such and such an age, I am rich, I can afford to vacation every year)
  • labelling self harshly for unmet expectations (I “should have” been able to do that, and because I wasn’t able to, I must be dumb, lazy, incompetent, a loser, etc.)
  • having an all or nothing mentality (I “should always” “should never“…)
A shouldaholic prioritizes:
  • results over price
  • “perception of” over “authentic” self
  • judgment over relationship
  • control over reality
A shouldaholic:
  • has a biased filter with which to interpret the world
  • creates stress through shame, blame, and guilt
  • finds it difficult to celebrate successes or accept praise
  • is susceptible to burnout

If this resonates with you, you may be a shouldaholic!


A recovering shouldaholic assigns only ‘SUCCESS’ or ‘LEARNING OPPORTUNITY’ to each outcome.

A recovering shouldaholic prioritizes:
  • improvement over perfection
  • healthy boundaries over accomplishments
  • relationships over expectations
  • collaboration over winning
A recovering shouldaholic:
  • adjusts expectations based on resources available
  • does not define self-esteem based on outcomes
  • practices non-violent communication when dealing with unmet needs
  • develops values-based boundaries

Do you want to start your recovery journey from shouldaholicism?

For yourself:
  • shift from fear-based to intentional decision-making
  • customize the approach for your circumstances
  • reframe narratives from failure to progress
  • understand self-care and boundaries
For your children:
  • prevent continuation of intergenerational trauma
  • sustainable and simple approach to teach kids
  • growth mindset that you co-create with your kids
  • evolve habitual reactions into intentional routines