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The 2 Words I’m Learning to Say Less

Published on 07/13/2022

Continuing on my journey to challenge myself and try new things, I recently joined a pickleball Meetup here in Chicago. (Haven’t heard of pickleball yet? You will! It’s kind of a cross between ping pong and tennis and it’s a lot of fun.)

I’d tried it a couple of times in resort settings but wanted to add more play to my life and thought this Meetup would be a great opportunity to practice the game and meet new people.

The participants, a motley crew of men and women of all ages, met at an elementary school in Wicker Park on a sweltering Sunday afternoon (the ever-so-creative Meetup leader, Lynn, had raised funds for school uniforms in exchange for being allowed to paint pickleball court lines onto their blacktop—brilliant!).

For our beginner doubles game, I teamed up with Jonas, a young man who’d never played pickleball but was a natural due to his racquetball experience. Since I’d played tennis in my youth, I was able to hold my own. Still, as expected, we both flubbed some shots and I noticed that EVERY TIME I did, I said “sorry!” while Jonas NEVER ONCE apologized for his errors and misses.

I say sorry a lot. I’m not talking about the real-apology sorry, but the everyday occurrences. If someone bumps into me on the bus, I say sorry. If someone is blocking the grocery store aisle with their cart, I say sorry as I try to maneuver around them. What gives? Why am I apologizing for another person’s actions?

That day on the pickleball court, I decided to consciously stop myself from saying sorry. It was really hard. But I bit my tongue and focused on the play. I’ll reserve my sorrys for times when I wrong someone.

There’s another word I’m trying to say less or even not at all…

That’s the word “just.” As in:

I’m just checking in with you…
I just think that…
I just worry that…

Just is a scourge of a word for many women. It’s a way to soften our language, seem less abrasive, less threatening. You know, less bitchy.

It’s a sad reflex of mine to add a “just” to many of my sentences. (I even removed the word from a few paragraphs above for goodness sake!).

Imagine NOT using the word “just” and instead speaking more directly:

I’m checking with you…
I think that…
I worry that…

Do you feel the difference? Sounds more confident to me!

YOUR TURN: Do you overuse the words “sorry” and “just”? Are there other words you believe we should use less often? Share in the comments!

HeleneTStelian Musing
I’m Hélène Stelian, the Midlife Mentor with a passion for facilitating personal development in women 40+. Through my THRIVE community, I help introspective, curious, action-oriented women 40+ deepen their journeys of self-discovery and growth—and create their next chapter with courage and intention.

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10 Comments

  1. LaTanya

    Sorry is one of mine too…. I happen to notice that about myself this weekend at the store. No one else does. But does that make it right? No. However I do see your point. Thank you, my up bringing taught me to be ever so courteous which almost has no meaning in the world we live in today.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Thanks for sharing your experience LaTanya! Yes, curtesy is such a wonderful trait but apologizing when no apology is due is something else.

      Reply
  2. Laurie Stone

    Two excellent points. I say both words far too often. In fact, recently sent an email: “just following up…” Oh well, live and learn.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      YES! You should see the number of times I have to edit out “just” from my emails! Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  3. Rena

    I am constantly doing that and then I get so mad at myself. I haven’t noticed “just” but I will now be on the lookout for it.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Haha I bet you’ll start noticing just now! Truly a four-letter word!! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

      Reply
  4. Tracy Ellen Ballot

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m copying and pasting this post and sending it to my daughter at sleepaway camp. I have a list taped to my monitor of words I try to avoid (at least when I’m writing):
    1. Just
    2. Really
    3. Very
    4. Perhaps/maybe
    5. Quite
    6. Amazing
    7. Literally
    8. Stuff
    9. Things
    10. Got
    11. Sorry
    I don’t remember where I got this list from (I’ve had it for several years). But it’s a good reminder. Literally.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      I love your list! There are quite a few on there I need to work on too. Awesome and fascinating are two more I over-use. But at least they’re positive! Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  5. Dr. Liz Lyster

    Excellent! I always advise people to eliminate the word “just” – as in when the doctor says “you’re ‘just’ getting older” so “you ‘just’ have to live with [fill in the blank – pain, fatigue, etc]. Draw a circle around “just” and put a line through that puppy!

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Love it! Thanks for commenting Liz!

      Reply

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