When “just” belittles

Since coming across Just Don’t more than a month ago, I’ve become more conscious of my usage of “just”. For example, “Why don’t you just get over it?” Which I would follow up with an attempt to remedy: “… sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that it would be an easy thing to do.

Personal takeaway from the post:

"Just" (or: merely, simply, etc.) has the effect of "representing as a small thing" the action that follows it. In other words, it belittles or downplays the difficulty of the action.

A little test that I’d come up with is to tack on “…, how hard could it be?” whenever I say “just” and see if it makes me want to punch myself.

  • I’ll just drop it off on my way to work, how hard could it be?
  • You should just forget about the whole thing, how hard could it be?

Turns out, “just” is mostly wonderful when used on myself (true to my heritage that lauds self-deprecation), but much less so when used on others.

I doubt it’ll ever be one of those things I’d care to call anyone else out on, but it’s been satisfying to notice my own unconscious belittling and make an effort to correct for it. In most of the instances where I’d doubled back, the “just” was genuinely unintentional; and in instances where they weren’t, well, I should just be doing less of it anyway, how hard could it be?