Have you ever balked at doing something because you thought, “That’s easier said than done”? If so, you need to know that that is a “weasel phrase”. “Weasel phrases” are problematic because they contain a grain of truth can wrong-foot a person and get in the way of your healing and happiness. That is what we shall be looking at in today’s article.
Why I hate the phrase “It’s easier said than done”
This week, “it’s easier said than done” has dropped into my Instagram feed several times. It has appeared in response to my infographics on what you need to do to recover from emotional and narcissistic abuse. That phrase jars on me. I hope it will soon jar on you, too – if it doesn’t already.
First off, I will admit that “That’s easier said than done” was a phrase that was central to my thinking, for a very long time. It felt like a wise judgement that I had arrived at all by myself, as a result of my own life experiences. However, not only was I was short on life experiences when that phrase crept into my life, but it was a firm favorite of my two parents, two siblings and husband . That might have told me something.
The phrase made them sound worldly wise but without committing them to taking action of any kind. Rather, it demonstrated that doing nothing illustrated their superior intelligence. There was no point, after all, in running off half-cocked on what would surely prove to be a hopeless exploit.
Toxic, abusive people contaminate our thinking, without us even being aware of it. They project a belief in their own omniscience. In fact, Narcissists brainwash into believing that they already know the outcome of everything, ahead of time. In most cases, that outcome will be negative. Therefore, there is little point in even attempting something. Unless you are a carbon copy of the Narcissist, so the narcissist’s narrative goes, you don’t have a hope in hell of succeeding.
All that heroic – and empty – posturing, combined with their never-ending doom-mongering, goes a long, long way to teaching you What Cannot Be Done. The Narcissist is perfectly clear that, where you are concerned, almost nothing can be done. Narcissists brainwash you into accepting that as your truth.
When I left “my” Narcissist, sadly, the “It’s easier said than done” mind-set did NOT leave me. I dipped my toe in the waters of coaching and was baffled by how strange and out of touch these coaches were. They seemed to think that anything was possible. Armed with the “wisdom” of Mr Nasty, I knew it was NOT.
My surprising post-narcissistic abuse discoveries
Except that I grew tired enough of looking at the brick wall of despair to work on my beliefs and thinking. To my amazement, I discovered two things worth mentioning,
1) An awful lot of coaches were a whole lot smarter than Mr Nasty and most of what they said was right.
2) There are other – abusive – people out there who love to pretend that they are SO much smarter than you that they can always manage to impose their agenda in a way that lesser mortals cannot.
The Narcissist’s So Much Smarter Than Thou fraternity
One brother of mine belonged to the Narcissists’ So Much Smarter Than Thou fraternity. He was forever telling me to browbeat every company I ever bought anything from for refunds and damages, when I clearly had no legitimate claim. He insisted that he always did so with great success. That was, I guess, his hero story – with the emphasis on the “story”. I suspect it had very little basis in fact.
Toxic people lie, constantly, to make themselves look good and you feel bad. When they do their job efficiently enough, you continue to feel bad long after they have stopped working on your beliefs and mind-set.
How to guard against the weasel phrase, “It’s easier said than done”
Bearing all of this in mind, I would urge you to be chary of deploying that weasel phrase, “It’s easier said than done”. That is a phrase that simply closes the discussion down in a way that is unhelpful to you. Instead, it helps to answer these questions.
- Do you really want to close the whole discussion down? If so why?
- Do you have cause to trust or distrust the person whose vision you are disputing?
- Is the thing that they are suggesting likely to cause you harm?
- Would it be worth doing if it came off?
- What do you stand to lose?
- What do you stand to lose if you do nothing and stay exactly where you are?
The objectors on my Instagram were saying that recovery from emotional abuse is easier said than done. They were saying it as if they had privileged information that I do not. Having had to do it for myself and then work out a system to help other survivors, I would say that I was already fairly clued up about the difficulties of recovery without their input.
The more helpful understanding
More to the point, that phrase does them a great disservice. Talking about someone else’s recovery is, inevitably, easier than it is for the person in question to go through it. But still, the important thing is this, it can be gone through. It can be done. That it is the more helpful understanding.
There is a common – and misguided – belief that doing nothing is easier than doing something that takes you out of even a chronically painful comfort zone. Actually, that is not true. You pay a high price for staying in that painful comfort zone. Based on my own experiences, as well as my clients’, there is nothing “easy” about staying put in an abusive relationship. Nothing easy, at all.
That is one aspect of the issue.
The other is that changing the situation and recovering from abuse can be done. Whether or not it is walk in the park, there is a very real likelihood that, at the end of it, your life will be very much better than it was before. Should you be discouraged or encouraged by that?
Do I even need to ask?
Recovery is doable
Recovery is doable. If you are in a painful and, essentially, hopeless situation, remember this, the fact that “it” (that is recovery) can be done – and has been done, by many, many people – is the light to guide you through the tunnel. Don’t let an abuser’s lies about what you cannot have, blind you to all the things that are well within your reach – although slightly outside your current comfort zone. You can do recovery. Forget about the “easier” bit and focus on the fact that it can be done. By you.
If you’re tired of trying to do your recovery on your own and feel that you could benefit from my support, get in touch.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.