As a mindset coach for ADHDers, I spend a lot of time thinking about our thoughts. (How meta.)
I think about how they make us feel.
I explore the way our feelings translate into our actions.
And I’m fascinated by how our thoughts ultimately shape our results each day.
In short, our thoughts and words matter.
They matter a lot.
And today we are talking about a word that often flies under the radar…yet it really packs a punch.
In fact, this one simple word often has us playing small, minimizing our contributions, and discounting what we have to offer.
So if you find yourself lacking the confidence you want, second guessing what you have to say, or questioning your incredible capabilities, you’re in the right place.
Check out episode 90 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast.
Discover where this seemingly innocent word shows up in your life.
And decide intentionally what you want to do about it.
You can listen to the episode below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
Listen To The Podcast Here!
In This Episode, You Will Discover…
- The power of our words and thoughts on self-confidence
- Where these words often hold us back
- How to decide intentionally what you want to think in order to generate greater confidence in yourself
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- 10 Tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
- Follow Patricia Sung @motherhoodinADHD
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Episode #90: 5 Surprising Ways You’re Selling Yourself Short And How To Stop Now (Transcript)
Today we are talking about one word. Yes, seriously. I am dedicating an entire episode to talking about one word. And on the surface, it may even seem like an insignificant word. But it’s one that I have been thinking about for the last couple of months. I’ve heard my clients using it. I’ve heard it come up in different conversations. And I’ve been more aware of my own use of the word, too.
Now as a coach – and a mindset coach specifically, I focus a lot on the thoughts we think to ourselves, both out loud and in our heads. If you’ve been listening to this podcast for a minute, you know that I teach the concept that what you truly believe – the thoughts that you tell yourself over and over – are ultimately going to create the results in your life. With that in mind, I also fully subscribe to the belief that words matter.
Your Words Matter
What we think to ourselves matters. What we say to ourselves matters. And what we say about ourselves to other people matters. Ever since I started exploring thought work and getting coached, and then becoming a coach myself, I’ve grown increasingly aware of the words and phrases we use every day.
Today I want to talk about a four-letter word that – I think – belongs on our radar. And that is the word just.
Now, I’m not talking about “just” as an adjective. I’m not talking about doing something that is “fair and just.” I’m talking about “just” as an adverb. As an adverb, it’s used in several different ways, and I’m honing in on the way we use it to used to minimize or simplify. That might sound like, “just one minute.” “I just need this.” “I’m just asking about xyz.”
And I’ve found that the word is so prominent in our everyday vocabulary, it’s so commonplace, that we rarely stop to question how we’re using it. Today I want to draw attention to this so we can start being more intentional about how we use this tiny little four-letter word that – I think – packs quite a punch.
As I mentioned, I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months now. And in fact, I was inspired initially back in January by an Instagram post by a fellow podcaster and ADHDer named Patricia Sung. She is @motherhoodinADHD and I highly encourage you to check out her work.
And the graphic that she shared said: “if advice includes ‘should’ or ‘just’ keep it to yourself.” And in the caption of the post, Patricia shared different examples of this kind of “advice” that’s often unhelpful. And as you might guess, they include the words should and just.
You should just do it this way. You should just manage your time a little better. And you should just try a little harder. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’ve probably been on the receiving end of this type of advice before. It’s the kind of advice that often has me thinking, “I assure you…trying harder is the one thing I have most certainly tried.” In fact, I have a whole podcast episode on it.
After reading Patricia’s post, it really put the word “just” on my radar. It was a word I hadn’t been thinking much about. But then all of a sudden it started popping up everywhere. And despite being such a seemingly commonplace word, it can also carry quite a bit of underlying weight with it – at least for me and my thoughts about it, anyway.
And that reminds me – as with any podcast episode – these are always just my thoughts.You may not agree with my take on this, and – of course – that’s absolutely okay. Clearly, when you have entire multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns built around the use of the word – I’m looking at you Nike and “just do it.” there are many people who likely don’t agree with me. And there are also situations where what I’m about to explore doesn’t necessarily apply.
But nevertheless, with how much I’ve noticed this word used recently, I wanted to hit pause and really dig into the topic today because I’ve seen it come to the foreground in five different areas that – from my perspective – aren’t serving us very well. And by gaining this awareness, you can notice whether this is showing up in your life, and if so, whether it’s something you want to address or not.
We Beat Ourselves Up
So the first example stems from the concept of unhelpful or unwanted advice that I mentioned earlier, but rather than using the word just in a conversation to someone else and explaining what they should just do, we instead turn it on ourselves. We use it as a way to beat ourselves up and generally feel terrible about how we are handling things in our own lives. So let me give you some examples.
Maybe you are working on navigating distractions. Perhaps you listened to last week’s podcast about impulsivity, and you are working on creating more space between the thought “I want to do XYZ now,” the feeling of the impulse, and the immediate action of buying the thing, or checking the phone, or whatever. And every time that you don’t slow down and that space, and you act on the impulse instead, you start using the word “just” against yourself.
It may sound like, “I know I just need to notice this urge is happening. I know I just shouldn’t act on the impulse. I know I should just sit and not do anything. But I keep doing it.” I often hear similar things from new clients or people on consultations as well. “ I know I just need to follow my calendar, but I don’t do it. I know I just need to stay focused, but I can’t seem to ignore all of the distractions.”
Do you hear yourself in any of these? It’s such a common one that we do to ourselves. And the reason why I feel so terrible is that, first of all, we are arguing with reality. We are saying, I know I should just be doing something, but we’re not. And when we argue with reality, that feels terrible.
And then that sneaky word “just” comes in, and it downplays the work you’re doing. It diminishes the amount of effort that’s required to do the thing. And when you think different versions of this thought, you often feel worse because the implied follow-up thought is: “I should just be able to do this… It’s not like it’s that hard.” And again, since we’re not doing it, we’re making it mean something painful about ourselves and our abilities.
But we don’t have to. And in fact, when we drop the “should” and the “just,” it really changes the tone of that sentence. Instead of “I should just follow my calendar.” It becomes “I follow my calendar.” And if you’re not following your calendar, there’s no shame around it. There’s no problem. Instead, we have an opportunity to be curious and explore.
Okay, you’re not following your calendar. Let’s figure out why that’s the case. What’s going on? What’s working for you? What is not working for you? Where can we make some changes? When we can drop the judgment from the “shoulds” and the “justs”, we have so much more opportunity to open up to curiosity and possibility as we figure out a solution.
Another situation where I hear the word just come up often presents a feeling of resignation or hopelessness. And I hear it from people who feel stuck or think they can’t figure out a solution. It often presents itself as “this is just how it is. I just can’t do it. It’s just not possible.” When we use the word “just” in sentences like this, we really close down to possibility. That one simple word creates such a sense of finality. “This is just how it is…”
When we remove that word, however, the thought may still present similar emotions, but they don’t seem quite so finite. Rather than “this is just how it is.” It becomes “this is how it is.” And from there, we can work with it. We can move to “This is how it is right now.” “This is how it is now, and going forward it will be… “I just can’t do it” becomes “I can’t do it yet.” And from there we can grow into ”I’m learning to do it.”
So if you find yourself feeling stuck or resigned and you can’t seem to move forward, check-in with yourself. Do you have a version of this thought in your mind? Are you telling yourself “it just isn’t possible?” If so, I invite you to start by dropping the just. And when you’re ready, play around with that belief a bit. Start moving from “it just isn’t possible.” to “it isn’t possible yet.” to I’m learning to make it possible. It’s so much more fun.
The next situation where I notice the word “just” come up was in my own writing with emails. I looked back at messages to people, and most of them have some version of: “I’m just writing to say that XYZ…” or “I’m just wondering if you might blah blah blah.” On the surface, it may seem minor. But when you pause and think about it, that word “just” suggests a lot. When I send a message that says, “I’m just writing to say…” I am diminishing those words. I am minimizing what I have to say. And the same goes for any request I might make. I’m not just wondering if someone could help me with XYZ. It’s the difference between:
I’m just wondering if you completed that expense report. And I’m wondering if you completed that expense report. It’s the difference between: I’m just writing to see where you’re at with securing the venue location. And “I’m wondering where you’re at with securing the venue location.” You’re not JUST. You ARE.
Minimize Our Successes
Another stand-out situation where I notice this word come up a lot – and especially with women and people socialized as women – is when we talk about accomplishments. We diminish the things that we’ve done. We minimize our achievements. And we downplay the contributions they make on a regular basis.
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and an entrepreneur was talking about the things that she did to grow her business. And the interviewer asked her about the different stages of growth and how she navigated the process as she grew this multiple six-figure business.
And her response sounded a bit like: I don’t know that I did anything special, really. I just did some research. I just kept sharing about my business idea and making offers to different companies who might need my product. You know, I just stuck with it, really. I just believed in what I have to offer because I knew I had an awesome product.
And as I listened to this amazing powerhouse woman, and I thought about the incredible dedication it took for her to continually do research and learn about growing a business when that was not her background. When she could have thought to herself, I have no idea what to do, or who am I to start a business?
I thought about the courage she had and continues to have as she keeps putting her business ideas out there, sharing them with other people, and making offers to companies. And I thought about the resilience and her unstoppable commitment to growing this business even when things were challenging, even when she didn’t have all the answers, and even when she didn’t know the next step. These are not little things. These are remarkable attributes that she had to strengthen and nourish in order to step outside of her comfort zone and make her multiple six-figure business a reality.
When we think to ourselves “I just did this,” or “I just kept trying.” Or “I just kept sharing about this idea or that idea,” we’re ultimately telling ourselves some version of a story that, “this really isn’t that big of a deal.” And frankly, we’re overlooking what’s true, which is that we put in the work. So I want to challenge that. I want to question that line of thinking and instead suggest that – in fact – it is quite a big deal and you are a rockstar for digging in and making it happen.
Because I think the sooner we pause to acknowledge the truth of the work we do. As soon as we recognize that it is so much more than just showing up or just giving it a shot or just putting yourself out there. And as soon as we recognize the value that we offer every day, not only do we start living in this place of possibility because we allow ourselves to feel proud and feel accomplished, but it also helps us dream even bigger. We start thinking to ourselves: Wow. If I could do this, imagine what I can do next. Imagine what I could do in the world with this next project or this next idea.
And perhaps my favorite thing of all is that once we start recognizing and celebrating our own wins, is it becomes even easier to recognize the incredible accomplishments and wins in everyone else. It’s so much easier and so much more fun to celebrate everyone who is doing amazing things. And again, this starts with removing that word “just” It starts when we stop downplaying and diminishing our accomplishments and start recognizing everything we have to offer.
This brings me to my last example, which is also one of the broadest ways that we use this word just. I am working with this incredible client as she writes her first book. And when we started working together, I asked why she wanted to write it – why is it important to her. And she shared a statement that stuck with me. She said, “I’m just a girl with something to say.”
I remember exploring this. We talked about what she had to say. We explored why she wanted to say it. And we challenged the thought of being “just a girl” with something to say. Because the truth is this: she has something to say.. There’s no just. There’s no qualification. She has something to say. Period. Full stop. And when we start to own that truth, that is when we can step into what’s truly possible for us.
And I hear this all the time with people when they talk about their jobs or their roles in society. I’m just an assistant. I’m just a mom. Or I’m just a student. Just a teacher. I’m just a regular doctor, not a specialist. I’ve heard all of these phrases in this past week alone.
And this is what really inspired me to do this episode. Because when we internalize that we are just these labels, it does a number. First of all, what we do in these labels – whether it’s an assistant, student, teacher, mom, doctor, whatever – what we do in these roles is nothing short of remarkable. And I think we too quickly overlook the life-changing value that we offer in them. We overlook the unique strengths that we bring to the table. And what’s more, we limit our perspective. We don’t see everything else in addition to that label of who we are and what we are.
You are an incredible assistant. You’re an amazing mom. You are a remarkable student. You are an inspiring teacher. You’re a passionate doctor. AND… the label doesn’t stop there. In other words, we’re removing the just and we’re including the And. I’m an incredible assistant AND i am an artist and a person who loves being outside and has amazing ideas and can problem-solve anything. I’m a remarkable student AND I am curious and passionate and love connecting with others. Because I want for you to see all the gifts you bring to the world simply by being in it.
My dad used to tell me a story from when I was younger. I was probably 2 or 3, and my family lived next door to this couple named Pete and Elsie. I used to run over to their house and knock on their door. And Elsie would ask “who is it”? And I would reply “It’s just me!”
Several years later, when I was in high school my dad wrote me a letter when I was at camp. He reminded me of this story and that phrase that I used so often. In fact, it was one that I still used at the time. When I would call and leave a voice mail on the answering machine – remember those? – I’d say, hey! It’s just me calling. And my dad challenged that in his letter. He reminded me that it’s not just me. It IS me. I am here. And that’s enough. No justification or explanation needed. I am here.
I wish I could find that letter. It’s probably tucked away in a box in my parents’ basement someplace. But the message has stuck with me. And if it was a message that you needed to hear today, I hope that it sticks with you, too. Because it’s not just you. It’s YOU.
We aren’t just busy being awesome. We are busy being awesome. And I invite you today to spend some time recognizing all that you are and all that you have to offer. And to sit in the truth that the statement “I am” is a full sentence.