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Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, Buddha

Prying FlagsTurn rumination into acceptance.  Upgrade your perfectionistic “shoulda, coulda, woulda” mantra with the word “buddha.” The word “buddha” means “awakened, enlightened” in Pali.  Use this term in its lower-case connotation as a symbol of acceptance and appreciation of the natural perfection of what is.

When you find yourself ruminating on some past imperfection, toss in a little bit of “buddha” into your self-talk.  Recognize that whatever you did, you did your best.  And even if your best was not enough for others, it is enough for you.  What else could’ve you done, be better than you were at that moment in time?!  Wake up to the impossibility of that!  After all, to be better than you are (at a given moment of time) is to be different from how you are (at a given moment of time).  But you were what you were.  How could’ve you been better than you were when you were what you were?!  Of course, you couldn’t’ve!  To think that you could’ve been the you that you were and a better (i.e. different) you at the same time … is just nonsense.

So rest your mind: “Shoulda, coulda, woulda, buddha.”  End of story.

Adapted from Present Pefect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control (New Harbinger, Somov, 2010)

Related: Proclamation of Psychological Independence

Creative Commons License photo credit: chany14

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, Buddha

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of 7 mindfulness-based self-help books. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Dutch & Portuguese. Somov is on the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Project (London, UK). Somov has conducted numerous workshops on mindfulness-related topics and appeared on a number of radio programs. Somov's book website is and his practice website is

Marla Somova, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the co-author of "Smoke Free Smoke Break" (2011).

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APA Reference
Somov, P. (2012). Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, Buddha. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Sep 2012
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