Oops, did I say but?

No, I’m not talking about that fleshy thing attached to your backside that follows you everywhere you go. There are plenty of ways to lose that:

  • The stock market
  • The casino
  •  Liposuction

I’m talking about that daily nagging thought in our head. A conjunction – used to introduce a statement that disagrees with something just said. The one that sounds like this:

  • I’m happy but  _____
  • I love you but _____
  •  I have money but _____
  •  I’m happy with my body but _____
  •  I have a car but _____
  • You did a good job _____
  • I love ice cream but _____

The “but” that you probably don’t even realize you say a dozen or more times a day. The single word that changes your perspective, self-esteem, confidence and way of life. This one little three letter word has so much power!

Let’s take it out of the previous sentences:

  • I’m happy
  • I love you
  • I have money
  • I’m happy with my body
  • I have a car
  • You did a good job
  • I love ice cream

Now observe how that changed each sentence. Which one is more empowering? Do you see how that works? When you use the word “but” it completely deletes the statement the preceded it. If someone says to you “I think you are pretty, but ___” do you even hear the “I think you are pretty” part? Of course not, it has now been completely erased and all you hear are the words that follow the “but”. They are almost always hurtful and critical.

So when you say them to someone else it is just plain cruel. There truly is never a reason for it. Hopefully you don’t feel the need to add more and you can just leave it as it is. If you absolutely feel the necessity to add more, then change the word “but” to “and”. Then the entire sentence is powerful without being mean. “I think you are pretty and _____”. For one thing it is almost impossible to add anything negative to that. “I think you are pretty and you need to lose weight”. It just doesn’t work.

So many times we say things without realizing what is heard. There isn’t a lot of need for “but” – in my opinion it is a word we could totally live without. It is a word that is very often overused when talking to our kids. “I’m glad you cleaned your room without me having to ask, BUT how come you didn’t do the dishes?” “Wow, you got a B on your test, BUT next time let’s get an A, ok?” You have now stripped them of their pride. That may not have been your intention and you probably never even realized what was done. And it probably happens more than you know. Even in reverse, when we think we are saying something nice, it doesn’t work. “You screwed up BUT I love you anyway”. How about just “I love you”.

What about self-talk? This is also very damaging considering the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day (and of these more than 80% are negative towards ourselves and others). “I’ve lost 15 lbs., but I still have to lose 10 more”. Let’s just celebrate “I’ve lost 15 lbs.”! Woo-hoo! Take the “but” out of our thoughts and I would bet MY butt that those negative thoughts would become positive thoughts in more than 50% of instances. How would your life change?

So, what is the easy way to lose our but? Here are the 3 steps:

1.      First become conscious of your use of the word. Pay close attention and notice when you use it

2.      Then change “but” to “and”

3.      And finally remove the word entirely from your vocabulary. You, your friends and your family will thank you!

Do you recognize yourself above? Have something to say about it? Please share below by leaving a comment!


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