How many times a day do you use the word ‘but’? Or hear it?
Not ‘butt’ as in a joint between planks of wood, the end of a cigarette, a hard blow or someone’s hind-quarters. Nope, no ‘butts’ like that here.
I’m talking about the ‘but’ utilized when stating an objection; an argument against something. This can be a defense mechanism, a control tactic and even a personally debilitating excuse.
‘But’ this … ‘but’ that … ‘but’ everything!
Have you ever stopped to consider the widespread damage this small but powerful word is capable of, and the ginormous roadblocks it can impose?
‘But’ seems to be the lead-in for EVERY argument, excuse and exception known to man.
Our kids are great ‘but’-ers. “But MOOOOOM. That’s NOT fair!” “I was going to but I ran out of time.”
Our spouses can do a bang up job themselves. “Honey, I really wanted to mow the lawn but the football game was on…” “I was going to pick up your clothes from the dry cleaners but I got busy and forgot all about it.”
Our bosses have their own rendition. “You were slated for a raise but declining profits and budget cuts have forced us reevaluate that course of action.”
Teachers can throw a whammy our way. “Class, we were going to take the afternoon off and play a game but since quiz scores were low, we need to review material instead.’
‘But’ can change the outcome of an argument. “But you were mean to me.” “But you didn’t give me enough attention.” “But you were wrong.” “But you looked at me funny.” But, but, but….you, you, you.
We can be our own worst enemies. “I wanted to pursue that opportunity but I didn’t think I would be successful.” “I really wanted to ask that girl out but I didn’t think she would like me.” “I was so close to speaking up but I wasn’t sure I would be well received.” But I’m not smart enough. But I don’t have enough time. But I need more money.
It doesn’t seem that much good comes AFTER a ‘but’.
Yes, there are exceptions – moments when ‘but’ can provide a valid argument or legitimate reason, BUT it’s often used to excuse or justify a behavior. It provides a quick defense when making an argument or pleading your case, and a comfortable wall to hide behind when feeling insecure or anxious.
‘But’ this … ‘but’ that … ‘but’ everything! I get really tired of hearing the ‘buts’!
Pay attention to the next ‘discussion’ (AKA argument or disagreement) you have or overhear. Are there any ‘but’ offenders or abusers? Now consider what the discussion would have sounded like if the ‘buts’ were ditched? How much more progressive could the conversation have been if a strong defensive posture was avoided? Sometimes we’re far more consumed with vindicating ourselves than objectively addressing the issue at hand.
Do you ALWAYS have to be right? ALWAYS have to have the last word? ALWAYS have to know what’s best? Is it remotely possible that SOMETIMES you aren’t…SOMETIMES you shouldn’t…and SOMETIMES you don’t?
Just food for thought.
Think about the times when your ‘buts’ restrain you from stepping out or conquering something. Do you hide behind excuses?
We all have moments of apprehension and self-doubt, but do you allow these feelings to hold you back from trying something new, taking a chance, pursuing a dream? If you find this to be a destructive pattern, ditch the ‘but’ and see where it takes you. Remove the opportunity to make excuses and take measures to overcome your insecurity and fear.
This post comes from a personal history of being bound by the ‘but’. Sure, I still utter that word and there are times that it’s necessary or appropriate, but more often than not I catch myself and try to avoid this argument or excuse tactic. My heels don’t get dug in quite as quickly, there is more openness during discussions, and resolution comes more quickly. I’m also more inclined to try something new. Not always happily so, but my attempts are more frequent and my life is richer because of it.
Have you ever experienced a time where something unknown to you is made known, and then you find yourself noticing it everywhere? For instance, someone points out a new style vehicle that you weren’t aware of and all of a sudden you see it all over the place. Happens all the time, right?
Well, I’m betting this will be the same for you. Pay attention to the ‘but’ and see how glaringly obvious its use and abuse is. If you’re the offender, make an effort to ‘ditch the but’ and move on to more meaningful, progressive and positive conversation. Free yourself from bondage and allow yourself the joy of living boldly; fearlessly.
Does this hit home? Please feel free to share your thoughts on ‘ditching the but’. We look forward to hearing your story or insight!