It’s more than just comical wordplay, everyone’s guilty of “shoulding” on themselves. But what exactly does that mean? In today’s episode, Dr. Leman describes the act of “shoulding” and explains how it is much more detrimental than one might think.

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Dr. Leman: Help! I’m shoulding on myself. Maybe I’d better spell that word “should”. S-H-O-U-L-D. You know, some of us are good at shoulding on ourselves. You should have done this, you should do that, and not only do we should on ourselves, but we should on those we love. So if you’re one of those people who can spot a flaw at 50 paces, this podcast is just for you.

Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you have joined us today. If this is your first time here, welcome, and you’re going to have a great time. But if it is your first time, we want to let you know that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help.

Doug: Well, Dr. Leman, you’ve already set us up. Tell us, what is shoulding on ourselves, and why should we or shouldn’t we do it?

Dr. Leman: Well, some people are their worst enemies, Doug. If you think of a tree and look at the trunk of the tree, that represents the family you grew up in: your mom, your dad, those persons who really had daily contact with you. If you look at that tree, off of the trunk come branches. One of those branches represent you and your siblings, your extended family.

Dr. Leman: If you grew up in an era where authoritarianism reigned, you’re probably subject to what I call the “critical-eyed parent syndrome”, and that’s the parent who tends to be a perfectionist, they know exactly how things ought to be. If you’re the recipient of that, chances are you’re going to be a procrastinator, you’re going to develop your own critical eye, you’re going to be extremely rough on yourself, you’re going to be a great starter. Oh, you’re a great starter. I mean, you’re like a track star getting out of those blocks. You just take off and then you fade in the stretch like a tired horse in a race that was probably a mile longer than he or she should’ve been running. You come to an abrupt stop. And then on top of that, you have to blame somebody for this, so you turn around and blame yourself, or some of you prefer just to blame others and make people around you as miserable as you are.

Dr. Leman: So that’s sort of where it comes from, Doug. From your family, the critical-eyed parent who thinks they’re doing a great job and motivating their child. By pushing the high jump bar a little higher is really discouraging that child and extinguishing that desire for that child to stand on their own.

Doug: So, Dr. Leman, there’s a lot of us that are always thinking, “I should do more. I got to keep up with the Joneses. I should, I should, I should, I should, I should.” How do I stop that, ’cause I just feel like I’m just chasing my tail, almost, at times.

Dr. Leman: Well, okay, let’s three of us play a little game. Let’s play a game called Look How Imperfect I Am, and let’s freak out Andrea-

Andrea: Uh-oh.

Dr. Leman: See the uh-oh? See that uh-oh? I knew it would freak her out. We’re going to start with Andrea, and Andrea is going to tell us one of her imperfect traits.

Andrea: Okay. Well, you probably named some of them. I get great ideas but I don’t follow through on them.

Dr. Leman: Okay. And Doug, yours.

Doug: I still get too angry at other people and blame others for situations that are really mine.

Dr. Leman: And I can be arrogant at times, and boy does that tick me off when I get arrogant, ’cause it takes me a couple of minutes to realize what I just said wasn’t nice. I should think more before I engage my mouth in chatter.

Dr. Leman: Okay, so we’ve all shared one of our flaws. Now, we could fill a podcast with just our flaws, right? We agree to that?

Doug: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andrea: Mm (affirmative).

Dr. Leman: We could just keep going round and round and Andrea’d get more and more red-faced, and we’d get through it but-

Andrea: Thanks.

Dr. Leman: … we could fill a whole podcast with that stuff.

Dr. Leman: But, the point is, and I make this point … lots of times I get the privilege of speaking in a church, and I mean that. I love to speak in churches, you have complete freedom to say everything that’s in your heart and mind, and I make this statement. I’d love your feedback on it.

Dr. Leman: When you realize how crummy and imperfect you are, then and only then can you really be used by your heavenly Father.

Andrea: Can you say that again?

Dr. Leman: Only when you realize how crummy and imperfect you really are, only then can you do what your Father in heaven would have you do.

Dr. Leman: What do you think? Are you attracted to people you’re uncomfortable with?

Doug: No.

Dr. Leman: Do you hang out with people you’re uncomfortable with?

Doug: No.

Andrea: Not really.

Dr. Leman: Now let’s look at the flip side of that. Why are certain people so good at engaging you in conversation? What is it about them that comes across as a welcoming spirit?

Doug: They’re genuine, they’re real and they do tell me … Their flaws are known. I know their flaws and they know mine. Those are the people I want to hang out with.

Dr. Leman: Well I realize everybody listening to us is not a believer, a person of faith, but stay with us for just a minute, okay?

Dr. Leman: When you pray, those of you who pray, do you pray from the ideal self or the real self? Do you say, “Oh Lord, make me this. Oh Lord, make me that.” Or do you pray from this standpoint? “Lord, you know I fall short. You know I have sin in my life, you know I say things and do things daily that I shouldn’t.”

Dr. Leman: In other words, the fallacy here of trying to put on a face and be something you’re not, the scripture says God knows every hair on your head, he knows when the sparrow falls. Well, he certainly knows you and I. So, do you pray from the ideal self or the real self? Why do people pray from the ideal self? Because it’s threatening for them to look at who they really are. I go back to, okay, when you understand how imperfect you are …

Dr. Leman: I mean, I’ll ask you straight out. Do either of you deserve to go to heaven?

Doug: No.

Andrea: No.

Dr. Leman: You really don’t. I mean, if you’re really a follower of Jesus Christ, you will admit there’s nothing I can do to earn it. It’s only through God’s grace that I’ll enter into Kingdom of God.

Dr. Leman: I’m not a theologian; I don’t want to play pastor here in our podcast. I just want you to get to some of the basics that when you understand who you are and how weak you are, then and only then can you really prosper, I think, emotionally in life.

Dr. Leman: A friend of mine is very proudly … Wendell Neal, one of the associate athletic directors at the University of Arizona, we’ve been friends for years. He’s a great friend and he showed me his little grandson, three-year-old, little Hunter singing Jesus Loves Me, and I was reminded of the words in that song. “I am weak, but he is …” what?

Andrea: Strong.

Dr. Leman: So, we try to teach kids today that they’re weak and God is strong. If you’re a person of faith, you want to imprint that on your children’s minds and hearts, but as adults, most of us don’t live that way.

Dr. Leman: So, probably getting too far afield here. We want to help people who struggle with feelings of inadequacy. They start a lot of projects, they don’t finish them. They become flaw pickers, not only to themself but to others. Even when they succeed, they tell themselves they could’ve done a little better.

Dr. Leman: Do you know how discouraging that is for a kid to bring home a paper and it says A minus at the top of it and the parent speaks to the minus and not the A? That’s what I’m talking about. We call that “encouragement”, vitamin E, and in the Leman books, you cannot read a Leman book on rearing children without coming upon the word “encouragement” all the way through the book, because it’s a simple and yet profound way to make a difference in your kids’ lives.

Doug: So, Dr. Leman, all my life I, hypothetically, if someone’s listening to this podcast they have excelled, they had that critical-eyed parent so they always rose up to the occasion and they always performed, and now at age 26, 36, 46, wherever they’re at, you’re now asking me to do the opposite. You’re actually asking me to say don’t stand up to those valedictorian or the soccer star. You’re telling me I should acknowledge that I’ve failed and I have weaknesses?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, and we’ve got a book out. It’s just one of my all-time favorites because it hits in so many ways the universality of mankind. There’s a lot of people who should on themselves. There’s a lot of people who put themselves down. I always love the example of a dog that comes into a room and you go to pet the dog and the dog cowers and sort of hits the floor. Well that’s a sign that this dog has lived an abused type of life, and people are like that. They put themselves down. I’m a guy who uses self-depreciating humor, and I do it because it puts the defenses down on people real quickly. You become a non-threat when you poke fun at yourself.

Dr. Leman: There’s a difference in poking fun at yourself and really feeling like you’re not worth it, and for women today, especially, women need to be firm, they need to make sure that their sons especially are not running over them. Again, you mommies, I remind you, you represent the entire feminine gender to your sons. If attitudes are going to change from men to women, they’re certainly going to change through the kind of practices that you employ every day in your life with your sons, mommies.

Doug: We’re going to finish this podcast here in just a moment, but before we do that, two things. We want to tell you about an eBook special from [inaudible 00:09:43] Books and Straight Talk with Dr. Leman. The eBook special this week is When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough. It’s available March 26th through April 1st, 2019, for only a buck 99 wherever eBooks are sold. When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough.

Doug: Dr. Leman, what is that book about?

Dr. Leman: Well, it really is about what we’ve just talked about, that there are people in this world who develop a negative self-talk. It becomes destructive to themself and to others. This book is a specific outgrowth of the Birth Order Book, which many, many trees have died for, and it’s a book that was inspired by my appearance not on Oprah or Regis or many of the other shows that I’ve done throughout my career, but way back to the Phil Donahue days.

Dr. Leman: I was talking about this concept on Phil Donahue, and I was inundated, inundated with messages and mail from people around the country, around the world, for that matter, who said, “Wow, you were looking in my windows of my home. You described me to the tee.” I talked about that critical-eyed parent that is in many adult today. They still hear the voice of their parent saying, “You could’ve jumped higher. You could’ve done better. You should’ve. You should’ve. You should’ve.”

Dr. Leman: It’s a very helpful book. A dollar 99 to download it. Not only would I download it and read it and memorize it, I would pass that along to those you love and I would recommend that to your friends. This is a life-changing book for people. It’s the way out.

Doug: Well, here it is, Straight Talk advice from Dr. Leman. Go for it.

Dr. Leman: Listen, it’s really pretty simple. You’ve learned to be the person you are. You’ve learned to create the attitudes and the habits that you do daily. The question is, can you change those? Yes you can. Why, and how? Do you go to a doc and get a pill? Some people do. Is that effective? No it’s not. If anything, it’s putting a bandaid on a problem. You need to solve this by yourself. If you need ideas on how to solve it, get the book we just offered. A dollar 99. You can download it. My goodness. Please, do that.

Dr. Leman: But listen to the advice in the book. Part of that advice is stop, think, and then act differently. Stop, think about what you usually say in a social situation. Think about what you’re going to say differently, and then fire it out of your mouth. Act. That simple paradigm will help you change behavior.

Dr. Leman: We learn behavior, right? Everybody say yes. Okay, so can you also unlearn behavior? Yes. It’s easier to learn the behavior, it’s more difficult to unlearn it, and so some of you are going to get the three steps forward and two back, and you’re going to be defeated by that, and you’re going to quit, just like you do everything else in life. You start projects and don’t finish them. So you’re going to have to have a way of measuring your continued success.

Dr. Leman: We’re not going to shoot for perfection, we’re going to shoot for eight out of 10, nine out of 10, but I want to see progress in your life so you can live a happy life and be a joy to people, rather than an albatross around someone’s neck.

Doug: So, Dr. Leman, back to the topic at hand. How does shoulding on myself hurt my parenting or hurt my kids, whichever one of those?

Dr. Leman: Number one, it gives a negative model for your kids to look at. Number two, your negativity is going to spew over onto them and you’re going to recycle another generation of people who should on themselves. It’s very destructive.

Dr. Leman: So I can’t tell you how important this little book is. My goodness, a dollar 99. You don’t do that, there’s something wrong with you. You deserve to be miserable if you don’t want to pay a buck 99 for that one.

Andrea: But, Dr. Leman, I’m thinking about all these families who they’re looking ahead in their kids’ futures and they’re supposed to be getting good grades so they can get the great university scholarships so they can do well, and they’re being trained, we’re training our kids, we’re training ourselves to perform well so that we can succeed in life. Don’t we have to?

Dr. Leman: We’ll, actually, a lot of parents who are concerned about their kids getting good grades are doing their work for them. They’re doing their homework for them.

Andrea: I look around, like on Facebook, and I see so-and-so won this award, and this child is going to nationals and this, and they’re all trying to outperform each other. I feel like this cycle is necessary to success in life for our kids.

Dr. Leman: Well that’s why people need to read other Leman books like Making Children Mind and Have a New Kid by Friday, where I give an extensive teaching on vitamin E, which is encouragement.

Dr. Leman: I’m thinking of my own high school class that I graduated with. Those little rock stars who were on top of the class, so many of them did not do well. I’m thinking of the top four or five, one or two of them took their lives. The idea of jumping higher and doing better at all times and at all cost is destructive.

Dr. Leman: We have schools. They are called Leman Academy of Excellence. Perfectionism is slow suicide. You have to understand that. We want to pursue excellence, you’re right. We want our kids to do well in life, but you don’t get kids to pursue excellence without them having that fire burning in them and not in you.

Doug: For all you parents that have been shoulding on yourselves, I do know that this is one of those areas that Dr. Leman has set me free to recognize my failures. I’ve used that more than once around here and it really is a beautiful thing to know that what I can do well and what I just don’t do well.

Doug: So, in conclusion, I just want to remind you the book is a fabulous book. It’s only a dollar 99, but you only have from March 26th to April 1st of 2019 to get it on eBook. As always, if you would like more resources, you can go to and we hope that this helps you add to your parenting toolbox so that you can love those kids more and more and enjoy them a ton.

Doug: We look forward to next time we get to be with you. Take care.

Andrea: Enjoy your day.