We have freedom of speech in the United States, but there are a few things I don’t allow spoken in my home. Some of these are, “I hate you,” “You’re stupid,” and “What’s for dinner?” That last one really grates on my nerves, but there’s a worse one, “But Mom.”
When I say something to my children, or give them an ultimatum, “But Mom” is grounds for the look. The look, something I learned from my parents, means that you just chose the wrong thing to say or do, and you’d better remedy it immediately. “But” and “Mom” should never be used in the same sentence, with the exception of, “You are awesome, but Mom is better.”
The word “but” is a simple conjunction that many learned in school, or Schoolhouse Rock. You use it to introduce a statement that adds something to a previous statement and usually contrasts with it in some way.
The word “but” has a tendency to negate or cancel everything that goes before it. When you use it, most people will pay more attention to what you say after you say “but.” This tiny little word has a lot of power.
Which sentence would you rather hear?
I like your outfit today, but that color doesn’t suit you.
I like your outfit today. I bet blue would look even better on you.
The first sentence ends on a negative note; you chose the wrong color. While the second sentence is short, simple, and compliments. Notice how it’s followed by a positive suggestion. No buts about it, the second sentence makes you feel better.
Now, think about how all of those buts affect your thinking and outlook on life. We all have goals or dreams but if we apply buts to them, we’ll never succeed at them.
- I want to lose weight, but I don’t have time to exercise
- I want to buy that outfit, but I don’t have enough money
- I really like that boy, but I’m afraid to talk to him
All of these thoughts are negative. How can we succeed at what we want if we shut down our dreams with all of these buts? We need to put those buts behind us. They are just excuses, valid ones, but excuses nonetheless.
We need to stop giving excuses AND start finding solutions.
- I want to lose weight. I will make time to exercise.
- I want to buy that outfit. I will save some money.
- I really like that boy. I will relax, say “Hi,” and compliment his appearance.
Notice how our conjunction is gone. Now, it is two statements. The first is your goal, and the second is the solution. It is important to note that the solution includes the phrase, “I will.” If you use phrases like, “I should,” or “maybe,” you will question yourself and slow your progress. “I will” says “I can.”
We definitely need more CANS and fewer BUTS in our life. We will be more successful and more positive in the end.