Driving through the countryside, something catches your eye in the sky and you feel a pang of excitement because you think it might be a buzzard or a red kite. Disappointment hits when you discover it’s “just” a crow and you’re soon distracted by something else.
Out on an autumnal walk, you hear something rustling in the undergrowth, you halt, trying not to make a sound, poised with anticipation, wondering what you’re going to see. A rat pops out and scurries across the path…oh, it’s “just” a rat, perhaps there’s a feeling of disgust and you walk on.
When visiting a friend, they’ve prepared a tasty vegetable lasagne so you ask what’s in it and how they made it, your friend replies “it didn’t take long, it’s just a basic tomato sauce some courgettes and peppers”, maybe even saying “Hummm, I should have sautéed the onions for longer”. It’s easy to dismiss a compliment with embarrassment or a lack of self-belief.
A friend compliments you on an outfit they’ve not seen before, you’re quick to avoid the attention and say “oh, it’s just an old skirt from the back of the wardrobe”, but they’re trying to be kind.
How about that time you searched in your jacket pocket for a pen and disappointedly you pull out “just” a stubby Ikea pencil?
Why do we dismiss one thing against another or even dismiss ourselves? If we alter the way we think and what we say can have a positive impact on how we feel and all round benefits on our mental health:
Have you ever thought about how beautiful a crow is? How about saying “wow, that crow is stunning” or “let’s watch that clever rat for a bit, see what’s it’s up to!”? We’d feel that initial excitement for a bit longer.
The lasagne was delicious, so why do we down play these particular ingredients, almost feeling ashamed or embarrassed that we didn’t use something more exotic? How privileged are we that we have such ready access to these vegetables? How about offering to share the recipe?
When you’re offered a compliment about how you look, how about entering into a conversation about how great it is to find a skirt you’ve not warn for ages or about putting a new outfit together? It’s ok to feel positive about yourself for a few moments. Saying “thank you” to a compliment can be hard but taking it on board can be deeply rewarding on both sides!
And that Ikea pencil? Well at least you had something for taking down those notes!
When I catch myself saying “it’s just” or “it’s only…” I try to take it out the dismissive language and listen to the difference. I often feel lifted and more in awe of the world and my experiences! Let me know if it works for you.