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  • All You Have To Do

    I can’t help but cringe whenever I hear the phrase “all you have to do…” It’s usually followed by a seemingly simple solution that overlooks the complexity of the problem at hand.

    Take the classic example: “all you have to do is eat right and exercise” Sounds easy, right? But what about the person struggling with a slow metabolism, who’s already been diligently exercising and consuming mountains of veggies? For them, it’s a far more daunting task.

    And then there’s the ever-popular advice to “just think positive.” Sure, maintaining a positive mindset can work wonders, but when it’s preceded by “all you have to do,” it feels like a dismissal of the very real pain and challenges someone may be facing.

    Imagine being told, “all you have to do is understand the math problem.” Easy for the math whiz, but not so much for the person who’s always found numbers to be their nemesis. It’s as if the speaker assumes everyone else knows the subtle steps in between, forgetting the struggles they themselves once faced.

    Gaslighters and bullies may use this phrase to assert their superiority and to make you feel inferior. If it is used in this context towards you, remind yourself that not knowing how to do something is no reflections of your value and asking for help is a strength. It’s ok to assert yourself and say “it’s not that simple for me. Here’s where I need help”.

    Now, I get it. The intention behind using this phrase is sometimes used to offer encouragement and empowerment. Coming from someone who you know has your best interests at heart can be comforting and at least well intentioned.

    If you are the one using this phrase, instead of simplifying someone’s struggles with a dismissive “all you have to do,” why not approach it with genuine empathy and support?
    Next time you’re tempted to utter those words, try something different. Ask, “How can I help you with this?” or “What have you tried already?” Show that you’re willing to assist and understand, rather than brushing off someone’s challenges with a casual directive.

    Let’s ditch the “all you have to do” mentality and embrace a more compassionate, understanding approach. After all, real solutions rarely come in one-size-fits-all packages.