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Examples of Poor Use of "Pull Yourself Together":
· Pull yourself together.
· Pull yourself together and stop crying.
· Pull yourself together and calm down.
Telling someone to “pull yourself together” is akin to ordering someone not to show emotions, or worse, not to have emotions. It also implies that the other person is “out of control”, and needs a verbal slap upside the head.
This phrase tends to be used when you are the one feeling uncomfortable with the emotions expressed by the other person, so it’s a self-serving phrase.
In situations where safety is a concern — when someone is driving, upset, and not paying adequate attention to the driving, you can try this phrase, but it’s not likely to work. There are better ways.
Make It Better:
When there’s a safety issue:
· I’m worried you’ll hurt yourself slicing those vegetables. Let me do it, since you seem upset.
· If you are really upset, I think it would be better if I drive.
Or, when there’s no particular urgency:
· Jan, let me help you. Hold on to my hand, and look at me, OK. Take a deep breathe. Good, now another one.
· Bob, let’s go outside for a walk, and just breathe before we talk some more. This is tough for you, I can see.
Notice what we are doing here?
First, we eliminate the “command” part of the phrase — ordering someone to get control of their emotions.
Second, we move away from sounding like we’re motivated by OUR discomfort with the person’s emotional state, and focus on the other person.
Third, we’re actually do something to HELP the person assert some control over the emotional reaction.
This makes the burden lighter and shared.
When it comes to ordering people to get control of their emotions, or to feel something different than they are feeling, it’s pretty foolish to expect success.