CAL Newsletter: Why Is “You Got This” So Evil?
My physical challenges are apparent to anyone with vision. I use a rollator (wheeled walker) when I leave the house. Heck, I use a rollator inside the house. And every so often, people want to offer me moral support. They say, “You got this!” as if I didn’t know whether I did or not.
These people mean well. They don’t realize how demeaning and evil the “you got this” phrase is.
When people say, “You got this,” they often mean:
- I’ll offer you moral support because I’m not sure what else to do.
- I’m sure all you need is cheerleading. Besides, even though I want to help somehow, I don’t know what you need.
- If I verbally support you through fake optimism, you can succeed. Isn’t that all you need? I’m not sure of what else to say. Because the alternative, where you fail, bothers me a lot.
I empathize with these folks. They don’t know how to respond. And they want to offer support.
However, when we tell people they got this, we create false expectations. They might need to learn and practice something before they “got” it. We demean their need to practice. We set them up to fail.
I rarely fall for any of these alternatives: not the moral support, cheerleading, and definitely not the fake optimism.
But evil? That’s a strong word. That’s because evil can cause problems or be morally wrong.
Why “You Got This” is Evil
It seems like such an innocuous phrase. However, we can cause people harm because when we say, “you’ve got this,” we don’t acknowledge the need for preparation and practice.
That phrase doesn’t do any of these things:
- Help us develop or maintain our support network(s).
- See the reality of our situation
- Which might help us assess how much preparation and practice we need.
That phrase assumes we change at once. We decide, snap our fingers and change.
That’s not how any change works. We often require time to examine alternatives. Then we practice and integrate the changes into our lives.
During that time of change, we don’t “got” this.
We are human, not automatons.
What You Can Say Instead
Instead of “You got this,” you have at least this alternative:
- How can I support you?
That’s open-ended and allows the other person to say what they want. Including nothing. “Thanks, but I’m all set for now.” Or, even, “Thanks, I’ve got this.” (It’s fine when we claim our got-ness.)
Sometimes, we feel as if we should do something. Or say something. I much prefer the “How can I support you” question to the statement, “You’ve got this.”
Our words matter. Let’s consider how other people interpret those words.
I opened the Q4 writing workshop for registration. See Free Your Inner Writer & Sell Your Nonfiction Ideas. (I’m about to close registration for this workshop and open the Q1 2022 workshop.)
Read More of Create an Adaptable Life
If you only read the newsletter, I hope you also read the blog where I write a question of the week each week. Here are other links you might find useful:
- The previous CAL newsletters
- My Books
- My Online Workshops
- Managing Product Development Blog
- Johanna’s Fiction
Till next time,
© 2021 Johanna Rothman