I think the word ‘but’ is an interesting one, it’s quite incredible how it can change the meaning of a sentence, or what we say, when you really think about it.
For instance, if I were to start a sentence saying “I was going down to my polytunnel, but…”, then I should imagine you’d think I didn’t go. However, if I said “I was going down to my polytunnel, and…” it immediately puts a whole new slant on the sentence and we’re already forecasting a more positive outcome. The whole meaning pivots with the change of just one word.
In fact, I was going down to the polytunnel the other day, but…I got a bit distracted by the weeds suddenly popping up all over my outdoor raised bed. However, I did end up eventually peeping in to see what had been going on in the polytunnel and I was a bit disappointed that my lettuce had bolted, but you can imagine my glee at three new peppers forming.
In the same way, when I ask clients “What’s been good”, they can start relaying a negative experience, but when I raise my eyebrows (meaning, mmm, where’s the good in this?) they will immediately come up with the word ‘but’ and then tell me how the whole story ended up with something good. I’m not so happy with the stories where it starts well and then the ‘but’ throws a bit of a curve ball in and we start going down a negative track, but I’ve got a way of butting in myself if that happens to get the client back onto a positive track.
With life in general it can be very beneficial, from an overall wellbeing perspective, to pull out the positive ‘but’ word, to be more aware of how we can change our slant on life when we do so. If something hasn’t gone quite according to plan, or has even gone way off track, it can really help to seek out the silver lining, the positive ‘but’. We can start to at least rescue a little bit of the situation.
For instance, take Covid, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, then therapists such as myself wouldn’t have discovered a whole new audience, who are happy to work online. This has enabled us to help them overcome a significant range of issues. Whereas, prior to Covid, it was extremely rare for talking therapies to be undertaken online. As far back as April 2020, New Scientist talked about ‘talking therapies having now proven themselves online’! Therefore, something bad has created a new opportunity and one that is very helpful to a lot of people.
So, be curious as to how such a small word can make a reasonably big difference to your life, if you really think about how you can use it.
Nicola Griffiths is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Lecturer. http://www.nicolagriffithshypnotherapy.co.uk