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  • Writer's pictureKhiana Wyatt-Locus

The Tea on Clichés

Don’t you just get tired of hearing clichés when you need legit life advice? Or when you didn’t even ask for any advice at all? Clichés are old sayings that people use to try and cheer others up, motivate them, or lead them in the right direction. Think about the sayings that your mama and grandma use but don’t actually live by. Those are clichés. Everybody uses them and swears by them, yet no one knows where they come from or how they got so popular.

When life gives you lemons (cliché intended), people normally use clichés because either they don’t know what else to say or because someone used it with them during a tough time. However, the tea on clichés is that sometimes they may come off as insensitive and unhelpful, especially during times of grief. Since my granny died, all I’ve been hearing are clichés. “She’s in a better place.” “She wouldn’t want you to be sad.” “Everything will be okay.” If it’s the typical cliché that people say when someone dies, then I’ve probably heard it.

Of course, people use clichés with good intentions. Nobody wants somebody that they care about to be sad or depressed. But the issue with using clichés is that sometimes the receiver of said cliché doesn’t get the chance to have their voice heard or their needs validated. It’s like a form of toxic positivity that puts a band aid on a situation but doesn’t actually heal the wound. Reciting clichés can sometimes come off as unsympathetic. For example, telling me that everything is going to be okay after my granny died doesn’t address the issue of everything not being okay at that moment. Yes, everything may be okay later but if I’m in a moment of need, using a cliché such as that doesn’t meet the need.

I assume that some people use clichés because they also didn’t have their needs met at pivotal moments and were told some cliché instead. Then when it was their turn to be there for someone else, they used a cliché because that’s what was said to them in their time of need. And before you knew it, you had a bunch of people using cliches and not getting the support they needed from others in critical times of their lives. But can you blame people? Nobody tells us what to do or teaches us how to be in situations such as these. So, what can we say or do instead? Whether you’re dealing with someone who is suffering a loss, having a hard time in life, or need to give yourself a pick me up, try out these tips instead of using a cliché:  

  1. Ask the person (or yourself) what they need at that moment. It may be nothing. It may be advice. It may be space. It may just be a hug. Don’t just assume that someone needs words of wisdom or advice. 

  2. Do nothing. You might be thinking that this is worse than saying a cliché, but sometimes people don’t need you to say or do anything. Sometimes people just need a moment to get something off their chest in a judgment free zone. Usually, people who need this kind of support realize that they are having a moment and can get themselves back on track.

  3.  Offer a distraction if it’s appropriate. Sometimes being distracted is a good thing. A person may just need to go for a walk, get some ice cream, or go see a movie to keep their mind off what’s bothering them for a little bit.

  4. Encourage someone to seek professional advice from a licensed therapist or counselor. You’re not obligated or trained to deal with certain issues that an individual may be facing. Instead of saying a cliché, encourage someone to speak to a professional who can recognize when clinical interventions may be necessary. 

Overall, the tea on clichés is that sometimes they do more harm than good. We’ve all used them or heard them at some point in our lives which is why they’ve gained so much traction. We don’t have to continue to normalize them though. Try a different approach when you’re supporting someone in need and let’s change the narrative one cliché at a time!

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Jul 11
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

As someone experiencing grief, I can really appreciate your breakdown on clichés. Thank you for your fresh perspective!

Khiana Wyatt-Locus
Khiana Wyatt-Locus
6 days ago
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Thank you for the feedback!

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