The word just is nothing us. We’ve talked about this before. I love this word because I love the reaction I get when doing presentations.
Just don’t do that anymore . . .
. . . Just don’t worry
Just calm down . . .
. . . Or
Just stop . . .
But the word just means guided by truth (At least this is what the dictionary says.)
It means done according to principle.
But to some of us the word just implies simplicity to a difficult concept.
Just don’t panic . . .
. . . Just don’t be sick anymore
The word just has its place for sure; however, when it comes to struggles of the heart; when it comes to heartache; when it comes to tragic loss, and when someone comes along and says, “You just have to let it go,” the word just is not just an impossibility —it’s an painful insult.
I have seen people tell others the word just to those who live with mental illness such as obsessive compulsive disorder. I have heard people say, “Just don’t do that anymore,” and I shake my head.
Tell you what, next time you feel sick, say like, the next time you have a stomach virus, think of me. Next time you feel so terribly ill, consider this: Just don’t throw up. Just don’t have diarrhea. Or how about, just don’t have cancer? Just don’t die.
Would the word just work there?
No it wouldn’t.
Therefore it wouldn’t work with others and their sickness. In fact, using the word just to someone living with or going through something only shows a lack of education and understanding.
Next, I looked up the word should this morning.
As in you should do this . . .
. . . Or you should do that
Should means must or ought. The word should imply direction but to the listener, the word should can often imply an impossible judgement.
You shouldn’t do that any more . . .
. . . You shouldn’t suffer
You shouldn’t feel pain . . .
. . . But we do feel pain . . .
We do suffer —but we shouldn’t.
There are simple words that I give myself challenges with. I challenge me not to use them conversation. And it should just be that simple.
In the worst times, people want to be heard. We want to be understood without judgement.
Sometimes, although we may not mean to, there are words we use that imply judgement.
No one seeking help wants to feel judged.
Take our kids for example.
Our kids are growing now and facing new challenges and new struggles. But yet, we want to know. We want to protect them. We want to guide our kids through the world without so much as a scratch.
In order for our children to have an open dialogue with us, we need to have an open and honest dialogue with them too. Naturally, of course, as a dad, I admit this is not always easy.
Whenever I was asked about my behavior in school, I told my daughter that I was always well behaved. I sat up front. I always did my homework. I never spoke out and I was never sent to the office nor had anything put on my permanent record.
And okay, so I lied . . .
None of that was true
But when it came to school, this is where I struggled most. Therefore, I had fears that my child would struggle most also.
I had learning disabilities. I struggled to understand and process information. I read poorly. I was behaviorally and educationally challenged.To put it mildly, I was stressed out. My anxiety was always a threat. I was intimidated by everyone and I never knew how to express myself because I never had the understanding or the language to tell someone how I was feeling..
As a parent though, in full disclosure, I admit that I overlooked the way I felt. I used words like, “Just,” and “should.”
I thought of the way I behaved and I did not want this for my child. I tried to direct her to avoid life instead of nurture and guide her through it.
But what if I opened an honest dialogue and openly validated simple thoughts and fears? What if I spoke about my feelings and thoughts instead of focusing on the actions and somehow glorifying or justifying my behavior?
Instead of saying “Just do this,” or you “Should” do that, what if I armed my daughter with the understanding of her abilities and that help is not this huge, extraordinary thing. This is not to say I will treat her like an adult or as an equal. Instead, I will parent and help her to navigate and achieve her own path.
We want to teach lessons about the difference between right and wrong. The problem is we often skip the impactful parts of the lesson and say things like, “Just do it this way,” or you “Shouldn’t do it that way anymore,” without quantifying the reason behind it and explain why people behave in the first place.
I have been part of different initiatives in my life. I have offered my time as a specialist and spent time in hospitals at bedside with clients that overdosed on drugs. I have listened to kids going through suicidal thoughts.
After one of my presentations, rather than use word like just or should and through methods of motivational interviewing, I found people responded differently when they learn, understand, and come to their own realizations. This is where empowerment begins.
There are times to lean in and times to draw back. To help someone, we best remove judgmental words from conversation.
Although there times when words slip through, trust me, remove judgement, listen and be supportive, show empathy (not sympathy) and even if your attempts are rejected, at least a person in need of help will know where to turn if they choose to.