“But what? Everyone I know has a big BUT…? C’mon, Simone, let’s talk about your big “But”.” –Pee Wee Herman.
According to the Oxford dictionary, “But is used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned.” In other words “but” negates what is said before it. “I want to quit smoking, but I have some valid reason not to quit smoking, but I would just rather smoke even more.” One of the most painful things we can hear from someone we love is, “I love you, but…” Why do we keep using this word when it obviously cancels everything that comes before it? We use the word “but” to take away our own power by denying responsibility. “I love you (see I really love you), but (I refuse responsibility for causing you pain from what will follow) I have to leave you (I want your reaction to be based on the “I love you part so I can avoid feeling guilty over obviously hurting you”). Are we really trying to take responsibility for other people’s emotions? Can we realistically expect people to feel what we want them to feel? The message is distorted, we are implying that it is love that is motivating our hurtful behavior and this is obviously wrong. We can’t control other people’s emotions, we can barely control our own emotions most of the time. Emotions can’t be controlled, they can only be suppressed, or they can be felt and released.
“If only something out of my control would change, then my life would be perfect”. Or, “If only my boss wasn’t such a ball buster I would be able to relax enough to quit smoking and do a good job at work and fix my marriage”. The boss’s emotions are out of our control and so we use them as justification for our inaction. The “If only, then” thought string comes from our repressed and denied fear and is basically magical thinking used to justify our own inaction. Even worse we use it to justify our victim hood to circumstances that are out of our control. Change is scary and we prefer pain that is familiar and there predictable to the anxiety and unpredictability of change. Change provokes fear. It is fear that keeps us on our toes when we face change, change requires us to be active and fear motivates us to flee or fight, it motivates us to act. We can take fear for what it is, an emotion that motivates action. Fighting is taking action, so is fleeing. Taking action generates change. When we take control of our language, we take control of our thoughts. When we take control of our thoughts, we take control of our imagination. When we take control of our imagination, we take control of our subconscious mind. When we take control of our subconscious mind we take control of our perception of reality. When we take control our perception of reality, then and only then will we be truly free and have freedom of choice. Then we can change into what we want to become.
How come the “but” makes perfect sense for the smoker and no sense at all to the non-smoker? Emotions, they make all the difference. Fear allows the smoking habit and the thought patterns around it to make sense. Love makes the person we love, the most beautiful person in the world, while others may not agree with us.