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Reverse Your Buts

I have learned that achieving JOY, FREEDOM, and MEANING in life is a journey, rather than a destination. While isn’t an effortless process, as some would want you to believe, it isn’t unachievable either, as some may assure you. It does require daily awareness, conscious focus, and moment-to-moment remembrance of our divine identity. In layman’s terms, being a positive mom is a constant choice.

Today I’m going to teach you how you can get closer to making this possible when you Reverse your Buts

This may sound weird, I know, but I have insisted in the power of words to change the way we experience life. We are blessed to be able to use language to create the specific results we want in life.

The late Robin Williams said “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” I pray this idea can transform your world in a positive way like it has mine.

words and ideas can change the world

The word BUT, just three little letters and seemingly insignificant and harmless and yet so mighty and powerful. BUT has an amazing power that goes often unnoticed: it can be a kryptonite to positive statements… it can take their power away.

Remember at the beginning of Despicable Me when Gru (the villain) made a balloon animal for a boy who had dropped his ice cream, and then he suddenly popped the balloon… just like that? That is what “buts” do.

“YES, BUT…” negates the “Yes” agreement, and when you connect two statements with a BUT, it negates whatever immediately precedes it, because we register that the truly important part of the sentence comes up after BUT.

Because BUT undermines what you say, some people will use it as an excuse to say something they don’t want to take personal responsibility for:

I’m not racist, but… [ insert racist remark].

I know I shouldn’t say this, but…. [ insert judgmental comment].

It’s none of my business, but… [ insert inappropriate question].

BUT is also great to tell others how wrong they are, negate an apology, or stop them in their tracks:

I see your point, but… [ means I don’t see your point at all, just want to share my own ].

I’m sorry you feel that way but… [ I’m really not sorry – the way you feel is wrong ]

Sounds great but that’s not gonna work… [ It doesn’t sound great – at all! ].

Do any of these BUT statements sound familiar?

  1. “I’d love to play with you, but I have so much on my plate today!”
  2. “I love you, but you’re driving me crazy right now!”
  3. “I am a woman of God, but you crossed the line!”

Unfortunately, the “actual” message we take in —and the listener focuses on— is usually what comes after the “but.” It’s plain and simple: we are wired to give more attention and more weight to what is said after the BUT.

What if you’d reverse your buts?

  1. “I have so much on my plate, but I’d love to play with you!”
  2. “You’re driving me crazy right now, but I love you!”
  3. “You crossed the line, but I am a woman of God!”

Do these feel different? I believe that reversing your buts will change the way they receive your statement, and it will also change your experience, your mood, and even influence the actions that follow the words. It is one of those daily practices that helps you become a positive mom.

I started this practice of reversing my buts one morning after my daily Scripture study. I noticed an interesting pattern that whenever I read the words “But God,” something really miraculous, positive, and amazing was said.

“But God” appears dozens, if not hundreds, of times in the Bible, and it is always followed by good news. I wanted to do that in my own life and the results have been wonderful, in my both my roles as a mom and a mompreneur.

Here are some BUT examples that apply to my own self-talk:

  • I love being true to myself, but sometimes I will be unpopular. OR  I’ll sometimes be unpopular, but I love being true to myself.
  • I want to be healthy, but being vegan is difficult. OR Being vegan is difficult, but I want to be healthy.
  • I want to teach my daughters, but homeschooling takes a lot of my time. OR Homeschooling takes a lot of my time, but I want teach my daughters.
  • I want to raise my daughters loving the Gospel, but I’d need to wake up early to read the Scriptures. OR  I’d need to wake up early to read the Scriptures, but I want to raise my daughters loving the Gospel.
  • I want a great relationship with my siblings, but it takes a lot of patience. OR It takes a lot of patience, but I want a great relationship with my siblings.

The way we talk to others is a reflection of how we talk to or about ourselves, so reversing our buts must start with the mom in the mirror.

AND… something else!

BUT is a conjunction that puts two completely separate ideas together, so it could either be avoided all together, reversed as I just showed you, or replaced with the word “and.” The same goes for its cousins “however” and “and yet.”

A fantastic example of this substitution was demonstrated by Andrew Solomon in his iconic TED talk “how the worst moments in our lives make us who we are” when he said:

“NOT ‘I am here but I have cancer,’ but rather, ‘I have cancer and I am here.’

Remember: BUT t is a conjunction that “presents a contrast or exception“, negating the statement that precedes it. And is another conjunction, presenting “non-contrasting item(s) or idea(s)“.

We are responsible for the impact of our communication. As we become aware of how our words affect our parenting, our relationships, and our work, we can become more conscious of what we say and how we say it. 

When you reverse your buts, you will be more skilled at clear and sincere communication, as well as adopt new beliefs that aid you in the pursuit and achieving of your BOLD goals, dreams, and desires.

Will you reverse your buts? Share how you feel about this positive practice with us!


Top 7 Most Positive and Most Memorable Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes ★ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM ♥

Tuesday 21st of January 2020

[…] BUT, I confess I had no idea who Martin Luther King Jr. was until I moved to the USA and wondered why he had his own holiday.  […]

Why Receiving Is Difficult (and How to Make It Easier) ★ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM ♥

Friday 11th of October 2019

[…] to avoid hurting that person versus being honest and saying “you know what, this is nice, but I don’t want it/ I’m not going to use it / I don’t need it / I don’t like […]

Elisha Fernandez

Monday 22nd of July 2019

Wow! Reversing the ‘but’s makes such a powerful difference when you make the subject of the sentence the positive part. It also encourages action, like with the “I have so much on my plate but I’d love to play with you” example, you can think about when you can play with your kids, since you would love to do that!

Christine G

Monday 22nd of July 2019

You just inspired a new believer in reversing my but! You offered convincing examples of how often we negate our intentioned comments with the word but being used. I'm going to be more cautious of how I phrase my sentences from now on.


Monday 22nd of July 2019

Elayna: Great post! This gave me a lot to think about. I will really have to be intentional in how I use this word from this point forward.