“Suck it up” is an expression that gets both over- and under-used. 

Most of the time I’ve seen it used, it’s been in a shaming, negative sense. It seems “suck it up” is often deployed as kind of a verbal or emotional weapon against someone somebody thinks isn’t trying as hard as they should. 

People toss out “suck it up” to shame or humiliate both other people and themselves. 

Do you realize how often we tell ourselves to “suck it up” and push through a difficulty? 

It’s as if we’re telling ourselves that our feelings and reactions in the moment don’t matter— we “should” be “tough” enough to “stick it out.” 

Look at that mess of a sentence. “Should.” Tough.” “Stick it out.” 

None of those expressions contains an actual strategy. 

None of those expressions speak to actual tools. 

None of those “tough guy” expressions provide any kind of guidance as to HOW one is actually expected to “suck it up.” 

I, myself, don’t believe the obstacles most people face are attitudinal. 

I don’t believe the problem with most people is that they’re not “sucking it up” or being as “tough” as they “should” be. 

I believe most people who are stuck or afraid or struggling lack an actual path, actual tools, actual strategies. 

It’s my experience that if you provide a motivated individual with clear goals (both final goals and intermediate goals) with the tools he or she needs, then the “suck it up” part often takes care of itself. 

And that is actually where I feel the expression “suck it up” might be underused— in the goal-setting and strategizing portion of the game. 

A lot of people don’t like to set goals, create plans, or plot strategy.

They fantasize that if they just have the right attitude, or if they’re just “tough enough,” or if they just make a decision to get through a situation “no matter what,” that’ll be enough. 

If they DO get around to setting goals, making plans, and plotting strategies, that sometimes brings their attention to the less-than-stimulating intermediate goals they have to go through to GET to their final goals…and they often don’t like thinking about those intermediate goals, because they’re boring, frustrating, or require more attention to detail than the big-picture goals. 

I get it. Daydreaming about big goals is way more fun than strategizing to achieve little goals. 

Suck it up. Strategizing, intermediate goal-setting, and time management are necessary, not optional, parts of this whole life development process. 

Suck it up. If you really want to do the things you value, if you really want the level of emotional and physical and lifestyle freedom you envision, you ‘re going to have to do a few things you’d prefer not to do— like intermediate goal-setting, planning, and strategizing. 

“Suck it up” isn’t a magical talisman that can carry us through any given situation on the momentum of attitude or determination alone. But it IS the only way to confront the reality that some aspects of this process won’t be immediately stimulating or gratifying. 

The expression or concept of “suck it up” doesn’t have to be shaming or humiliating, by the way. It can, in fact, be your best friend, if you let it be. 

“Suck it up” presupposes you DO have the knowledge and skills necessary to do the hard things. 

“Suck it up” implies you can get through the unpleasant part of this process, so you can move on the parts of the project that are more fun and interesting and rewarding. 

You can either use “suck it up” as a way to pretend that there is some sort of sweeping attitudinal factor that will make all the difference in the world— which is nonsense and counterproductive— or you can use “suck it up” as a practical bit of self-talk to get you through the practical tasks needed to move forward. 

Don’t beat yourself over the head with “suck it up” 

Use the expression just as you’d use any other tool in your repertoire— intelligently, self-supportively, compassionately, and consistently. 

Suck it up and set some goals. 

Suck it up and manage your time. 

Suck it up and strategize around your strengths and weaknesses, your stronger tools and your weaker ones. 

Suck it up and have some compassion for yourself, even when you don’t feel like it. 

Suck it up and be fair to yourself. 

You can do it. 


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