When I wrote an article titled Behind Every Successful Man is a Woman for AlignThoughts.com, I argued that it was time to retire the titular expression for a multitude of reasons. It wasn’t until the day I wrote that article that I realized just how many expressions we still use today that are outdated or offensive.
One that has been plaguing me the most recently is the expression “nothing worse.” We use it all the time in all kinds of situations. For example:
As you can probably guess, I’ve only scratched the surface of the cavalier ways this expression is used everyday.
I used to catch myself using this expression often. As a person with Borderline Personality Disorder, I’m no stranger to personal negativity. I often remind myself to look at the positive when my emotions are going haywire. It’s not a cure for depression, of course, but it helps me power through when all I want to do is curl up in a ball under the covers and stay there for a week.
Recently, I stopped using the expression, but now I notice people saying it everywhere I go. Nothing worse than having a cold. Nothing worse than getting a parking ticket five minutes after the meter expires. Nothing worse than Monday morning.
“Nothing worse” is relative to the person using the expression. For one person, getting the wrong coffee in the morning is the worst thing they have to experience today, while the person in the cubical next to them is having an anxiety attack over having to make a phone call, and the person in the cubicle next to them just lost a family member to cancer.
If you’re muttering “nothing worse” to yourself, no harm done, but most of the time we’re saying it to someone else or posting it on social media.
That’s why it’s time to retire this expression and all its derivatives (e.g. “that’s the worst”). No matter what context you use it in, there will always be someone who is experiencing something worse. We don’t have to decide which of some of the worst things in life — addiction, human trafficking, abuse, death, etc. — really holds the “nothing worse” title. It’s not a competition.
We just have to stop saying it.