the “big but” syndrome

I’m heading to the hills for a week.

I’m going to a place I love with a person I love to share experiences I’ll love, but there sure is a lot to do before heading out.duct tape

See how I did that?   With one three-letter-word,  I negated the power of a lot of other cool ones.

I hate it when I do that.   As I mentioned in a post last week, I’m an optimist.  I still have to fight the ‘big but syndrome’ (clinically referred to as BBS).

In case you’re not familiar with BBS, here’s what happens – EVERY TIME  a series of positive/encouraging/ forward shifting statements is followed by the word BUT – all else is forgotten.

Don’t know about you, but as soon as That Word escapes my mouth, I wish I could suck it back in.

So (along with duct tape) here are four things I do to comabt BBS:

1.Mark it out when I notice I’ve written it.   SCARY but effective!

2. Substitute The Word AND.   Amazing how easy this is!   It’s also amazing how listeners’ eyes actually brighten (rather than glaze over) at the sound of AND.  This strategy is especially effective when I want to communicate positive and future positive.  (e.g. “Thanks for letting me know that God told you I was the perfect person to head this church committee AND I think I’ll wait for her to tell ME before I say yes.”)

3. Apply the triple  filter before even speaking by asking these questions: a. Is it true?  b. Is it loving?   and  c. Is it necessary?   Sometimes I speak only to hear my own voice.  These filters help me stop that.

4. Shift back the the basics. Who knows why, but I love to complicate the basic.  A few years ago I created a handmade interactive journal for some friends whose lives were changing.  Since then, I’ve signed and numbered each subsequent copy.   I just mailed copy #14,569 of ABCs for Life.  This book continues to help me remember what’s basically important.  Shifting back the basics helps me pay attention to what I honestly intend to communicate.    I find my intentions rarely include BUTS.

When I remember to use them, all four of these strategies help me.   They might help you, too.   Let me know how YOU combat BBS.

11 thoughts on “the “big but” syndrome

  1. Oh, this is great! I use “but” much more often than I should and it really doesn’t promote an optimistic attitude. I really like #2. It’s a simple switch but it really does make a difference. I think it’s really important to validate the bad and the good of a situation (but emphasize the good) so I think this is a great way to do that! Wonderful post!

  2. Lisa, love the post! Great reminder to think before we speak (or write) and to be mindful of the fact that the words we use to communicate our thoughts can affect our attitude!

  3. PP and Bettina, i’m SO glad this post meant something to ya’ll. the words we choose DO have an impact on our actions, reactions and attitudes. thanks!

  4. Excellent thoughts, Lisa. WAY too many times I use the word “but”, and you’re right…it always negates everything that came before it. I’ve often said, if we could get out big “but” out of the way, we’d be much more effective when we communicate.

  5. No buts, really????? How about “however”.

    I am an optimist too; really like Annie Dillard’s description of herself, “gregarious recluse” which is a person who is chatty and (not but) retiring.

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