The world is full of idioms that are thrown about without much thought. On the surface they sound nice, but if we really dissect them, we can see them for the shallow platitudes they are. Here are seven well-known sayings that are not as deep as we might think.
“If you can’t take me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”
This little saying is plastered all over millions of Instagram feeds. At first glance, it sounds like a good philosophy for self-esteem. In practice, it’s a mantra for narcissism.
Now there is something to be said about calling out the fair-weather friends. Sometimes people are there for you only when it’s convenient for them and don’t stick around during your worst times. But in other instances, we might just be such insufferable people that even the most patient of friends can’t stand to be around us. If you find yourself using this quote often, ask yourself if your best is really worth what people have to put up with during your worst.
“The customer is always right.”
Harry Gordon Selfridge
Anyone who has ever worked in customer service knows this is a load of crap. And quite frankly, it’s a terrible way to do business. You really want the customer to always be right? Fine. I’ll come to your store and demand I get everything you stock for free. “No!” you exclaim? But I thought the customer was always right.
Everyone has heard of the crazy customer, like the one I just tried to be, who wants unreasonable treatment. These people are bad for business, and your employees need to know you have their back if they’re dealing with someone like this. Don’t be the boss who uses this asinine saying. You will get nothing but rolling eyes, low morale, and the worst kinds of customers.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
I appreciate the stoicism behind the idea. Having thick skin is a good thing, especially in the age of social media and internet trolls. Unfortunately, words do hurt, and they can cause deeper, more lasting damage than stones or sticks. Bones generally heal within six weeks. Getting over hurtful words, especially ones given to you when you’re young, takes a lot longer.
Now don’t take it to the opposite extreme and take everything to heart. Being resilient is a good trait, one that is rare to find these days. But if something does legitimately hurt your feelings, let the other person know. Deal with the problem. Don’t let it fester.
“Time heals all wounds.”
False. Sometimes wounds get infected. Some wounds need serious treatment to heal. Sometimes soul wounds require therapy, counseling, or apologies to heal. Time can heal, but it isn’t a cure all. Leaving one situation alone for a couple of days might be enough to get over it. Other times, leaving the problem alone will only make it worse. Don’t leave festering wounds to heal on their own.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
This quote has been overused to the point of cliché. Like the two previous quotes, this one tries to be optimistic about the resiliency of humanity. Unfortunately, the resiliency of humanity has its limits. Sometimes something cripples you, physically, emotionally, or mentally. Sometimes a wound makes you permanently weaker, not stronger. Besides this, Nietzsche is also the guy who thought every human problem was about sex and is credited with saying “God is dead.” (Somewhere, the Newsboys just got triggered.) He isn’t exactly the kind of guy you want to take life advice from.
“Don’t care what others think”
I can appreciate what’s trying to be said here. What others think shouldn’t dictate your life. You shouldn’t let a random stranger’s opinion or rude word ruin your day. But you should care what your friends and family think about your job, your financial decisions, and your dating choices. There are other people whose opinions in such matters are irrelevant, like your mailman or a coworker you don’t know very well. But the people you’ve invited into your life should care what you do with your life, and you should care about their opinions, even if they’re uncomfortable to hear.
What deceptively bad sayings did I miss? What are some common phrases you can’t stand to hear? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.