Here is an excellent thought experiment:
Paying attention to every time you hear someone say the word “but.” But, typically negates (cancels out) everything that is said before it.
“I don’t mean to be cruel, but…
You guessed it, the next thing that is said is going to be, at the least, insulting.
“I am not normally sarcastic, but…”
The real meaning: Oh, yes, they are!
“I really don’t drink much, but I like to have a drink now and then.”
The real meaning: Hmmm, it would be interesting to see how much they really drink…
“I love you, but I need my alone time.”
The real meaning: I don’t love you or love you enough
“I would really like to see you but…”
The real meaning: I don’t want to see you
Of course, there are times when but does not negate. It depends if there is a follow-up question or statement:
“I would really like to see you, but I can’t this week. Can I schedule for next week?”
If you find that you are a “but” user, there are a few things you can do:
1) Do not make the judgment statement in the first place. Judgments are likely a reflection on you and your self-worth. If you notice that you are a “but” user when making a statement to someone else, what you are doing is deflecting (an emotion defense mechanism) your attention from your internal struggles.
“I really want to see a counselor, but…”
The real meaning: I am afraid and really don’t want to see myself for who I really am.
2) If “but” is not a negation, sometimes replacing “but” with “and” can sound better to the receiver:
“I think you did a great job, but there is room for improvement.”
“I think you did a great job and there is room for improvement.”
“I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but I would like to discuss it more.”
“I agree with a lot of what you are saying, and I would like to discuss it more.”
I hope you enjoy this thought experiment. Remember, it is essential to practice any mindfulness exercise with compassion toward yourself and others, and without judgment.
Take that next step today! Contact me, Catherine Cleveland, for you in office or online mental health counseling appointment! (585) 432-0313 firstname.lastname@example.org or, make set up your appointment on line