One of the words that is used a lot in everyday conversation is the word “but.” Usually, it’s considered to be a pretty benign word, or at least that’s my impression given the way in which it’s carelessly bandied about. I mean it’s a fairly small word, seemingly innocuous enough. I think, grammatically-speaking, it would be a conjunction, although I’m not really sure of that, so don’t quote me. All this being said, what I want you to think about for a moment is the inherent meaning of the word “but”. When you use this word. what are you actually saying?

Let’s consider the word in context, to make it a little easier. Here are three examples to ponder:

1. That’s a great outfit, but it’s not okay to wear it to the mall.
2. I would love to go to the mall, but I’m busy right now.
3. I love you, but I’m really angry with your choice to stay out.

When you read the above sentences, what’s the impact you notice of the word “but”? What is the meaning that it effectively creates? I assert that it acts as a “negator” of sorts — it negates the veracity, in however subtle a way – of the phrase that precedes it, so that the second part of the sentence becomes what’s important. So, in the first example, the fact that “it’s a great outfit” doesn’t really matter; what matters is that “it’s not okay to wear it to the mall”. Do you see what I mean? Can you hear the energetic implication that happens in the sentence?

Now, what I want to invite you to do is replace the word “but” in the above examples with the word “and”. In this case, the second sentence would now read, “I would love to go to the mall, and I’m busy right now.” What shifts when you replace the word “but” with “and”? I’ll bet you can hear that both phrases now seem to stand on an equal footing. When you use the word “and”, the first phrase, “I would love to go to the mall” has as much validity and truth as “I’m busy right now.”

Now, why is this important? Because, if you’re wanting to change the story of your life to one that is more possibility-filled, part of what you need to do is start creating space for more things to be true at the same time. Rather than using language which can only hold a few things as true at a given time, it becomes important to play with language that allows for more. Rather than living in a world of either/or, you can now dance in a world of both/and.

Really, this is about inclusion. When you minimize your use of the word “but” and start incorporating “and” more, you set a stage where a variety of options can be held and entertained at the same time. There’s room, all of a sudden, for differing perspectives to be equally valid, whether you agree with all of them or not. In a way, this is about allowing more of everything to be possible in the story of your life.

Bottom-line: if you’re wanting to live a story-line that is MORE, it behooves you to start using language that allows for more. Minimizing your use of “but”, “either” and “or”, and replacing these with “both/and” affords you the opportunity to entertain more options. And in the end, when you can increase your number of options, you can truly be at choice in your life. Remember: having only two options isn’t really a choice; it’s a dilemma.

Are you ready to create more space in your life?

Author's Bio: 

Gail is the principal and founder of Stellar Coaching & Consulting, a company committed to supporting professional women in living lives with ease. All of her programs and services revolve around the fundamental premise that life is more fulfilling when lived by active design instead of passive default. Her unique insights and experiences have allowed groups to work successfully on issues related to improving team function and productivity, and individuals to work towards achieving their goals without compromising a sense of balance.

Gail is the host of the twice-monthly podcast series, Your Life, Your Way, Starting Today which is available at as well as co-author of The Control Freak's Guide to Living Lightly: Manifesting a Life of Total Trust (