A Phrase I Never Want to Hear

Bad phrases

I have often talked about phrases that I dislike hearing people say when I am counseling. It includes things like:

  • "I can't…"  My response: "You can't or you won't?" Or "You can't or you don't want to…?"
  • "He/she NEVER…" My response: "Never? Wow… that's a long time." I think that "never" is "never" accurate and using that word "never" helps a situation.
  • "He/she ALWAYS…" My response: same as above – "Always? Really? Every time?" I think that "always" is almost "always" an exaggeration that rarely helps solve a conflict.
  • "I've tried that before, but it didn't work."… My response: "Did you REALLY try? What did you try – exactly? How many times? For how long? How consistently?"  This usually means it was a single attempt that didn't go well – so they determined "it doesn't work."
  • "I don't know."… My response: "Stop to think about it and try to give me an answer."  With my daughters, I say that "I don't know" isn't allowed when I ask a question that requires thinking. People often don't want to think deeply and in counseling that drives me crazy.
  • "I don't have time to…" - this is usually in response to the homework I'm asking them to do.  My response: "How much TV did you watch this week?" We always find time for what we think is important.  Many people want help, but they don't want to work hard to get to biblical solutions.

You get the idea.  Other phrases I hate to hear:

  • "I've done everything I can." (Really? Everything? How about….)
  • "It isn't my fault." or "Don't blame me." (You have no blame in this? No part of it?)
  • "Don't ask me…" (I am asking you…)
  • "I'm just one of those people who…" (That may be who you are – is it who you are supposed to be?)
  • "That is impossible." (Difficult and impossible are two different things)
  • "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." (Thankfully, you aren't a dog…)
  • "It won't work." 
  • "I'll never forgive him/her."

I've talked about all those phrases in the past, but I figured out a new one that drives me crazy.

So – how about we avoid this phrase? "I had no choice…"

This may be heard this way:

  • "I had no choice; I just couldn't get there on time."
  • "I had no choice; I couldn't get out of bed."
  • "I had no choice; he told me to do it."

It would be better to say, "the short-term benefits and low risks and quick satisfaction was much better than any other choice – so that is why I did that."

The most important choices in life tend to come when many may feel there is no other choice. 

And saying or thinking that we have "no other choice" cuts off options, creative thinking, biblical obedience, and removes responsibility. 

Let's stop using that phrase… unless we say, "I FELT like I had no choice…" Maybe it is usable in that context… Maybe…

3 comments
  1. In my public speaking classes in high school we used to have to give speeches that were called “pet peeve” speeches… this post reminds me of those. Ha. Nate hates the phrase, “I tried my best.” His response, ” Really? Your best? You can’t think of anything you could have done better?” I think that everyone has responses that push their buttons. 🙂

  2. I remember you saying once that you dislike the phrase “hindsight is 20/20”. Since then I’ve gotten to not like that phrase much myself, because there is enough you can do to prevent yourself from needing to use it.

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