Psychology and Healing: How the Word "Just" Inadvertently Disempowers People

in The LIFESTYLE LOUNGE2 months ago

It's interesting how often BIG issues can come to light as as a result of seemingly very small things.

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This morning Mrs. Denmarkguy and I were talking about the power of words. Somehow, we ended up talking about childhood bullying and the old saying/rhyme

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.

which was an early — and pretty disingenuous — "antidote" to bullying and verbal abuse.

Of course, what we say can hurt people.

Apologists for the idea that what many call verbal/emotional abuse being "all in people's heads" eventually have to come to terms with the paradox that if words "CAN'T hurt" why do they use words with the intent "TO hurt." Why would you apply something that — by your own admission — doesn't apply?

But I am digressing.

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Now, I should probably add here that neither Mrs. Denmarkguy or I are so-called oversensitive "snowflakes," but we do both work in — and with — the fields of personal development and mental health.

Which is how we ended up talking about that small word "just."

Interesting word, that. In most cases, we use it to underscore that some process, action, thought, activity or whatever is really very simple.

Subconsciously, we often use it to impress on people that they are "making a big fuss" about something they need not. At least in our opinion...

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Where it becomes problematic and potentially diminishing is when someone who's "expert" at a particular thing uses it when talking to someone who has never done that thing, and might even have a phobia attached.

For example, when I was trying to overcome my fear of public speaking, it definitely did not help me to have seasoned lecturers tell me that I "JUST" needed to get up there and do it.

For me, there was no "just" about it!

Mostly, there was a long history of doing extremely badly on verbal presentations in high school and college, getting poor grades and being laughed at.

"Oh, you 'JUST' need to get over that and move on!"

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To be honest, there's pretty much nothing someone has ever struggled with that had been made easier as a result of someone adding the word "just" to the instructions!

And — if you think about it — in most cases, the only purpose the word "just" serves is to add an element of feeling stupid to someone's struggles to grasp a concept... be it learning geometry or overcoming their fear of public speaking.

Naturally, I'm not claiming that "just" is an abusive word. I'm saying that it tends to disempower people, particularly in situations where they are trying to become empowered.

The interesting thing is just how often we use "just" in our everyday speech. Try "watching yourself" for a couple of days, and you might be surprised! Not suggesting we should stop, of course... but that we should be mindful of our words and their meaning!

Thanks for reading and have a great remainder of your week!

How about YOU? Have you ever felt a bit put off because someone told you you "just" had to do something to overcome a fear? Is mindfulness in language important to you? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!

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Created at 20210928 23:30 PDT

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Excellent insight @denmarkguy and mrsdenmarkguy ;-) It is incredible how often we hear this and say it ourselves. I shall certainly be more aware of this going forwards. It's only when we truly step back and examine something more carefully that we can appreciate all the possible ramifications of our actions and words, even if unintended. I hope your post reaches lots of people who take the time to truly consider how it applies to them and undertake to be more mindful as a result. I love this post. thank you so much for sharing it. reblogged.

Thanks for the kind words @samsmith1971.

I'll be the first to admit that we often have so much on our plates of life that we don't always take the time to think things through before blurting out something. But that's what consciousness is really all about... I'm not fond of the current buzz-term "woke," but there are some worthy underlying principles there... practice mindfulness!

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words just leave invisible scars we can handwave away and pretend don't exist.

Yes, in many cases we can just weave something around the scars and bypass them. Often, that's for the better but there are also times when hiding them leads to strange "explosions" that turn out to have nothing to do with the current situation and actually were a delayed reaction to a buried memory.

What combat soldiers experience with buried PTSD can manifest for much smaller issues, as well.

I was being sarcastic when suggesting it was a simple matter to wave away such scars. That sentiment doesn't convey well through text.

Got it! Yes, it's hard to convey sarcasm by text. I've increasingly resorted to this:
/end sarcasm

It is alleged that the Norse invented sarcasm. It should run in your blood!

Figures! Most of my relatives back on the other side of the pond are a sarcastic bunch!

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.

Words cut dipper than a knife, but people fail to realize that the think it's all a joke,

what might be a joke to them could hurt someone else for life. I always tell my friend to choose the words they you on others carefully.

Unfortunately, the world has a difficult time seeing "bruises and a black eye" left on someone's psyche.

It's definitely a good idea to think twice before we throw random opinions at people because we really have no idea what their experience is.

That's so true. We should watch what we say to people, in the name of joke and fun

As someone who experienced the pain of "Just do it," I don't tend to say things like that, but I also tend to symplify a lot of things using the word just... "It's just a game," "we just have to do x and y... "Things like that.

Sometimes the best way to overcome weakness, is to just know it exists and not try to overcome it until it becomes easier to do so.

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Thanks for the support @ahmadmanga.

I believe the most important think is to simply stay awake and remain aware of the fact that our words do have an impact on other people... and sometimes we are better off thinking a little before we "just" say something.

Thanks, I'll try to do this:

...to simply stay awake and remain aware...

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