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May 19

You Got This!

You Got This!

…You don’t know that. In fact now I’m just pissed off!

People often say “You got this!” with good intentions, aiming to provide encouragement, motivation, or support to someone (anyone but themselves) facing a challenge or difficult situation.  This situation might be huge and overwhelming like coping with a life-altering situation or loss – or it’s tossed out there by the leader of an exercise class who is asking you to do another set of reps.   Either way its a likely a problem and something to make the speaker feel better not the person struggling with whatever.

Say What You Mean

While “You got this!” is often well-intentioned, there are situations where its use might not be appropriate or effective. Here are some reasons why the phrase might not be the best choice and alternative approaches:

  1. Insensitivity to the Severity of the Situation: In serious or high-stakes situations, such as dealing with grief, trauma, or major life changes, “You got this!” might come across as dismissive or trivializing. Instead, acknowledge the gravity of the situation and offer empathy and specific support. For example, “I’m here for you. Take all the time you need,” or “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I’m here to listen.”
  2. Ignoring Emotional Complexity: When someone is expressing doubt, fear, or anxiety, a simple “You got this!” might not address their emotional needs. Rather than brushing off their concerns, validate their feelings and offer reassurance. Try saying, “It’s okay to feel nervous. Remember, I believe in you,” or “I understand this is tough. What can I do to help you feel more confident?”
  3. Minimizing Effort and Struggle: Some challenges require significant effort and perseverance to overcome. Saying “You got this!” might oversimplify the task at hand and ignore the hard work involved. Instead, acknowledge their effort and offer practical support or encouragement. For example, “I know this is tough, but I believe in your ability to push through. Is there anything specific you need help with?”
  4. Pressure and Expectation: In situations where someone is already feeling overwhelmed by expectations or pressure, hearing “You got this!” might add to their stress. Avoid imposing expectations and instead offer unconditional support. Say, “I’m here to support you no matter what happens,” or “It’s okay to ask for help if you need it.”
  5. Lack of Personalization: “You got this!” can feel generic and impersonal, especially if it’s repeatedly used without considering the individual’s unique circumstances. Tailor your support to their needs and offer specific encouragement or assistance based on their situation. For instance, “I know you’ve been working hard on this. You’re making great progress,” or “I believe in your ability to find a solution that works for you.”

In summary, while “You got this!” can be a well-intentioned expression of support, it’s essential to consider the context and the individual’s emotional needs. Providing genuine empathy, acknowledging their efforts, and offering specific support or encouragement can be more meaningful alternatives in many situations.

Life can be complicated, messy, and rarely progresses in a straight line.  PeoplePsych is a Chicago-based psychotherapy group that treats adults seeking profound change in their lives.  We provide services that affirm the dignity, worth, and value of all individuals. We strive to create a safe non-judgemental space for clients to explore the issues that bring them. To connect with one of our therapists, please contact our Clinical Coordinator at (312) 252-5252 or