Hello my beautiful souls!
Welcome back to the Modern Manifestation blog. Feel free to listen in to today's topic in the podcast.
Today, we're diving into a topic that has truly transformed the way I approach my journey of healing and growth. A topic that is centered around one word.... a simple, yet profound word, that has brought flexibility, self-care, and compassion into my life.
So, what word am I talking about today?
The word: ‘and’.
Discovering the Freedom Within a Word: "And"
Have you ever stumbled upon a word that seems to hold a world of possibilities within its letters? That's what the word "and" is for me. Yes, a word as short as it is common, yet it created a profound shift in my mental health and my perspective on life.
Before we get into the meat of today's post, let's rewind a bit to the exercise that introduced me to the power of this word, the words that's changed everything:
I was in therapy discussing my day for the 100th time. As I described my activities earlier that morning, my therapist began to interject with the word "and" every time I said "but". After awhile, it became comical. It was on this day that I discovered my tendency to belittle myself with the word "but". It was such a strong habit, that I couldn't keep myself from uttering "but" every time I spoke of my daily habits, my goals, my accomplishments, etc.
During this session, I encountered a shift in perspective that was so simple, yet incredibly impactful. That shift revolved around using one word in place of another: Swapping the word "but" and replacing it with its counterpart, "and." This subtle shift has granted me a new level of freedom and self-compassion AND I hope this discussion can do the same for you.
The Transformative Power of a Shift in Language
Think about the last time you said something positive about yourself, only to diminish it with a "but", followed by your perceived shortcomings. This was my pattern, too. My therapist's guidance led me to see how my constant self-contradiction was stealing the spotlight from my achievements. As I began to swap "but" for "and", not only did my attitude shift, but I began to notice when I wasn't in alignment when who I wanted to become. As someone who has always had an interest in manifestation, this awareness was a game-changer.
The power of "and" lies in its ability to be additive and inclusive, while "but" often contradicts and subtracts from our accomplishments. One contradicts and one complements.
When we choose "and," we grant ourselves permission to hold two opposing truths. The word "and" leaves room for self acceptance and awareness, without the guilt . In many ways, this word is an antidote for the word "should".
You give yourself permission to live in the gray area. To say “I’m doing all these wonderful things AND there’s so many other things I would like to do for myself AND it’s OK that I’m not doing it all right now”.
It feels like a choice as opposed to something we failed to accomplish.
This seemingly small linguistic shift carries profound implications for our mental well-being and self-compassion.
As an example, imagine the last time someone asked how your day went... What was your response?
For me, my answer often resembled some form of this: "It was fine... I did this, this, and this..... BUT I didn't get to XYX".
Hopefully, you're a very self aware person who wouldn't shame yourself in this way.... But I Did. And if you're anything like me and this resonates? Well, that's why we're here. <3
I spent years self shaming without any awareness. I would always start off conversations (in therapy, in coaching sessions, or with friends) and say something like, “I know I’m doing all of these really great things, BUT”.... then I would list all the things that I was NOT doing. I would use the word ‘but’ to contradict all of the efforts I'd just listed.
Every time I said the word ‘but’, it was loaded with self shame and all the things I knew I ‘should’ be doing…. and was not doing.
I would use the word ‘but’ to take away from my small wins, so instead of focusing on what I was doing right… I was focused on what I was doing wrong.
Before this exercise, my focus was centered in lack, in scarcity. Everything that was NOT getting done, accomplished, or even started.
However, when I became aware of this habit, my language began to change. Once my language changed, my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors were right behind it.
The shift looked like this:
Previously: “I know I’m doing all of these great things BUT I didn’t…. And list all the things I wish I had accomplished instead…. "
then it changed to:
Now: “I know I’m doing all of these really great things AND I would like to... And list all the things I could choose to focus on at a later date."
The old language I would use made me feel deflated and overwhelmed by the mountain of things I wanted to get done.... and never felt like I had time or capacity for. It felt like a ME problem.
The new language I choose to use leaves room for improvement without placing judgement. I could still have the same list of things I'd like to do AND I give myself permission to celebrate what I did and to leave things for another day.
A Tool for Effective Communication
Using the word "and" isn't just about our internal dialogue. Using the word "and" can be a great tool for effective communication—a skill that shines brightly in interpersonal communication. Whether you're the leader in an organization, discussing politics with family, or looking to improve your debate skills over happy hour, shifting from "but" to "and" can help you communicate in a way that is less defensive.
How? Using the word "and" creates space for two people to respect one another’s views while discussing really hard topics. To see the other person, even when we don’t agree with what they’re saying. This word can transform difficult conversations, allowing us to acknowledge opposing viewpoints and create an open dialogue. In other words, we break down "but" to bridge the gap with "and".
To help you understand how using "and" as opposed to "but" can shift someone's response to you.... Let's put you on the other side of the conversation: Imagine receiving feedback from your boss that starts with "I think your presentation was very informative, BUT we could work on your delivery."
What happens in your mind when you hear that "but"? For most of us, everything they said prior to that ‘but’ goes out the window.
The negative energy of "but" often overshadows the positive feedback.
However, let’s say that in your debrief your boss says, “I think your presentation was very informative AND we could work on your delivery”.
Do you notice that subtle difference? Replacing "but" with "and," shift the dynamics dramatically. Utilizing the word "and" fosters inclusivity and constructive dialogue without throwing us into fight or flight.
Hopefully, this example allows you to see how using "and" can create healthier relationships for us. Because when we normally talk about really difficult issues with someone, and we disagree with them, we often find ourselves being defensive. Maybe you say, "I hear what you’re saying, BUT"... and then you completely contradict what they just said. To the other person, it feels like you’re getting on your soapbox and you’re about to preach AT them. They're unlikely to hear your perspective just as you've ignored theirs.
The word "but" created immediate opposition. You’re telling that person that you don't stand with them. You do not see or hear them. You're here to preach your views TO them. They've likely shut down.
This is when my favorite word 'and' can come in to play, to change the conversation.
Instead, if you were to say, "I hear what you’re saying AND what about this perspective"... your point will be received differently.
When we use the word 'and', we're more likely to have an open dialogue. Otherwise, you just have two people trying to get the other person to see something their way.
The word 'and' allows us to be able to see other peoples experiences without opposing them, without trying to gaslight them. It allows us to change the conversation in a very small way, creating ripple effects in our relationships and our mental health,
The word ‘but’ can be dismissive. The word ‘and’ is inclusive. In today's polarized world, the value of "and" can bridge the gap between opposing perspectives and foster respectful conversations. Instead of shutting down conversations with "but," we can open doors with "and." It's a tool for change in a time when understanding each other is more crucial than ever.
Embrace the "And" for Yourself and Others
Small changes can make a big difference within ourselves, within society, and between one another. When we shift how we speak to ourselves, we shift how we approach others. When we're kinder to ourselves, we're kinder toward others. Give yourself the gift of practicing using "and" more and "but" less as you move through your day. Give yourself unlimited freedom to choose joy over shame.
Yes, we could be doing all of these wonderful things like meditating, journaling, manifesting, and visualizing... AND we just want to watch Netflix today.
We can be working out, eating healthy, doing yoga, breath work, and everything else... AND we can also go to McDonald’s.
End the cycle of self-shaming by embracing the word "and". Instead of taking away from all of the good things that you’ve done, acknowledge that, "I did these great things AND I did these "not so great" things, and it’s OK that those things contradict one another. They don’t cancel each other out because I still did all those really great things."
Embracing "and" isn't just a personal journey; It's a tool to create healthier relationships and a more compassionate society. Encourage those around you to choose "and" over "but." Let's challenge the narrative of self-shame and opposition and invite a perspective that embraces all aspects of ourselves.
A New Chapter of "And"
In a world often divided by "either-or" thinking, the word "and" reminds us of the gray area where growth, understanding, and compassion flourish.
The "and" exercise has opened my eyes to the magic within this tiny word. So, let's rewrite our stories using "and" instead of "but." Let's transform conversations by choosing inclusivity over division. And above all, let's grant ourselves the freedom to be both imperfect and incredible, all at once.
Thank you for joining me on this journey into the power of language and the incredible transformation that "and" brings.
Until next time, remember: you can do it all, achieve your goals, and still find the space to be human and rest.
I will catch you in the next post!
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