“Pull yourself together” is used in tense situations in order to calm down someone whose upset, panicking, or disorganized.
The phrase can be used in a variety of situations, ranging from those that occur on an everyday basis to those which are far more serious. It’s unclear where exactly this idiom originated from but it’s likely it evolved naturally over time as a clear way of defining what one person wants another to do, but that also evokes the other’s panicked/upset behavior.
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Meaning of “Pull yourself together”
“Pull yourself together” is used to demand that someone gather their thoughts, regain control of their actions, and calmly approach a situation. It can be used as a demand for someone else to calm down or it might also be used to describe the speaker personally. For example, “I really need to pull myself together.”
When To Use “Pull yourself together”
It’s possible to use “pull yourself together” in a wide variety of situations and among different kinds of company. The phrase is usually used as a demand, someone one person says to another in order to try to get them to calm down and gather their thoughts. It’s unlikely that using this phrase in a formal setting, to demand that one’s boss or professional colleague “pull themselves together” is going to be the appropriate response to a situation though. Like most idioms, “pull yourself together” has a proper place and time.
One might use this phrase when a situation is quite serious, even life or death, or it might be used when one simply wants another to cool down. For example, one friend might use the phrase as a way of trying to calm down another before they make any rash decisions in regard to a relationship, job, or family argument. In another more serious situation, one might use the phrase in order to stop a friend from panicking.
- Stop it! You need to pull yourself together before someone gets hurt!
- If he’d only pull himself together we could all get through this.
- It was only after they pulled themselves together that anything was accomplished.
- If we can’t pull ourselves together here and sort this out we’re never getting home.
- Her life was at risk because she couldn’t pull herself together quickly enough.
Why Do Writers Use “Pull yourself together?”
Writers use “pull yourself together” in the same way and for the same reasons that the phrase is used in everyday conversations. A writer might use the phrase as an exclamation in the dialogue between two people or in the narrator’s own description of their thoughts. For example, a narrator who attempts to describe a scary moment in their past might include the phrase as an example of how they tried to calm themselves down at that moment. Or, one character might use the phrase to suggest a course of action to another.
Idioms, such as “pull yourself together” can be confusing for those who haven’t heard the phrase in context. But, it’s unlikely that an English speaker who came upon these words would be confused by their use. That being said, it’s not impossible and writers have to keep this fact in mind.
“Pull yourself together,” like most idioms, has an uncertain origin. It likely evolved naturally over time as people looked for a way to describe what others need to do when they’re in a bad state. It’s easy to imagine the wide variety of situations that this phrase might be used in and therefore how many different ways it might’ve come into common use. Someone might’ve used it initially as a way of telling someone they know, whose concerned for their welfare, to pull themselves together and focus on the task at hand.
It would be interesting to know whether the phrase was used originally in situations in which people’s lives were at stake and focus was necessary for survival or if it evolved in social situations in which anger and arguments were quelled with its use.