Are You a “Should-Be” Person or a “Could-Be” Person?

Should be person or could be person

We’ve all at some point probably heard the famous mantra “Shoulda, coulda, woulda”. Incidentally, I saw this posted on a sign at a jailhouse years ago. (For the record, I was there visiting someone, not being visited).

This phrase “Shoulda, coulda, woulda” is generally used to indicate all the things we should have done, could have done, or would have done if we had the chance to do things over. Or maybe you’ve heard, or even said, the age-old phrase, “If I had known then what I know now, then I would have…”

When it comes to seeing problems, and most of all solving problems, are you a “Should-be” person or a “Could-be” person? There are distinct differences in how both of these kinds of people view things in life, specifically negative things. Depending on which of these two kinds of people you are will help determine the kinds of outcomes you have in your life.

The “Should-Be” Person

The “Should-be” person is the person who says things like “Things should be this way” or “Things should be that way”. They do not have a problem seeing the problems in how things are done. Often their perceptions are incorrect because those perceptions are clouded by biases that were formed through events that transpired in their lives which cause them to see things in a negative way.

“This phrase “Shoulda, coulda, woulda” is generally used to indicate all the things we should have done, could have done, or would have done if we had the chance to do things over.”

If you find yourself operating as a “Should-be” person, in addition to seeing the negative things in life, you may also tend to amplify the negative things about yourself.

There are times that the “Should-be” person’s judgments of problems around them are actually correct. This is where it gets a bit more difficult for the “should-be” person. This is because, at least in their estimation, the fact that the problems they see happening are actually happening is a sufficient reason to complain about it because…it’s happening, and it shouldn’t be!

This person does not naturally see solutions to the problem they are witnessing. The only “solution” they see is to just take away the problem. The logic goes something like this; “If they weren’t doing that, then I’d be happy” or “If they would simply just stop causing that problem, then I wouldn’t be so bothered by it”.

This logic seems simple enough, right? But, it isn’t much of a solution at all for a couple of different reasons.

  1. People don’t “simply just stop” causing problems. Some people don’t even know they are causing problems because they may be operating out of a mindset they learned growing up and were never made aware of how it causes problems. That’s just how they have always seen things done.
  2. The “should-be” person who notices the problems is likely also operating out of a mindset they learned; one that notices and complains about problems, but is not aware of the need to also seek out solutions to those problems. So, in their noticing of problems, of which there will always be plenty, they themselves are causing a problem; namely the problem of constantly complaining about problems.
  3. Their “solution” is borne completely from a self-serving place, which is indicated by such phrases as “…then I’d be happy” or “…then I wouldn’t be so bothered”, as if to indicate that their goal in life is to stay happy and unbothered.
  4. It places the burden on other people to make the “Should-be” person happy, when in reality, no one can make us happy if we are not already happy with ourselves.

In short, this person is an emotional consumer. How can the “should-be” person get past this mentality and become more of an emotional contributor? Keep reading…

The “Could-Be” Person

The “Could-be” person looks at what is happening around them and, though they may also see the same problems and may also acknowledge what “should be”, this person sees how things could be. They say, such phrases as “I see the problems, and I also know how things should be. Rather than complaining, I am going to spend my time finding a way to contribute to a solution and I believe there is a solution as long as we make the right decisions along the way”.

In the meantime, the “Could-be” person gets busy finding ways to help the situation to become what it could be. This person is a contributor and will help contribute to the goal, not of eradicating all problems, but of seeing the possibilities in the problems and helping to find a solution to those problems.

“The “Could-be” person also sees what should be, but rather than complaining about it, they get busy contributing to a solution for it.”

How to Become a “Could-Be” Person

The way that a “Should-be” person can learn to become a “Could-be” person is to first let go of the myths of the “Could-be” person. While it is more optimistic to see things as they could be, I by no means am trying to say that someone has to be some happy-go-lucky person who only thinks of birdies, bunnies, and butterflies.

It is quite the contrary actually. The “Should-be” person should still both look for and acknowledge the way things should be. This is only natural. But, the only major change is in the way they respond to that truth that they observe. It is not about accepting the problems as okay, nor is it about the problem maker suddenly not being wrong.

The major change for the “Should-be” person is, after seeing and acknowledging the problems, to make themselves think of solutions to which they can contribute. They will quickly find that this approach does a few things.

  1. It alleviates any feeling of bitterness they may feel in their hearts
  2. It makes them take responsibility for their thoughts and words (Can you really, with a pure conscience, complain about a problem for which even you have no solution?)
  3. It invests that same energy and time into something more positive and constructive. (You’re already spending energy and time complaining. Why not invest that energy and time into something more helpful?)

So, I’ll ask again. Are you a “Should-be” person or a “Could-be” person? Remember, the “Should-be” person also sees what could be, but does not go any further than complaining about it.

The “Could-be” person also sees what should be, but rather than complaining about it, they get busy contributing to a solution for it.

If you find yourself admitting that you are more of a “Should-be” person, then own it, and start making progress today to become more of a “Could-be” person. Life is just a lot better that way!

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Published by Jason Fulmer

Jason Fulmer is a Pastor, Human Resources Professional, and Development Teacher. He currently operates two blogs:, where he posts Bible-based development articles, and, where he posts personal and professional development articles. His life's goal is to encourage men and women to go to THEIR next level of living and leading. He believes the best way to accomplish this goal is through Education and Example!

One thought on “Are You a “Should-Be” Person or a “Could-Be” Person?

  1. I am grateful I read this blog. It helped me to see that I need to be more of a solutions finder than a complainer.


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