Imagine this situation: Your doctor or your CDE or a support group member makes a suggestion about how you can make a change to your diet, or kick start your exercise plan. You consider it a moment… it seems logical… and certainly not out of the question… Well?
“Yes, but…” Sound familiar?
I often work with my clients on creating goals that they, in turn, commit to. These goals are often very simple, like getting together with a friend, taking a walk, trying a healthier snack, or giving themselves encouragement rather than criticism. Basically, little goals that can help when making positive change to routines like diet and exercise.
And then when we talk about how to get started, or what gets in the way, or about what they might try next, their next sentence often begins with “yes, but…”
The “yes, but” response seems to be one of the most common phrases in the English language. How about with you? Every feel like you have every reason to do something positive for yourself, yet then when you get a gentle push to take the next step… “Yes, but…” followed by all the reasons why you said you could or think you can… but…
Think about something. “Yes, but” is often followed by the word, “can’t.” Human beings are hard-wired to stay the same and to avoid change. Old habits are hard to break.
However, “yes, but…” leaves you stuck in one place, disempowered.
I am not suggesting that you deny how you are feeling, or to pretend that getting motivated is easy. It’s not. What I would like to do is to suggest some ways to begin to understand your “yes, but” and to understand what’s getting in your own way.
I have started asking my clients to replace the “yes, but” with “yes, and.” While “yes, but” closes the door to possibilities, “Yes, and” opens the door to action. Here are some examples:
“Yes, and…I am afraid that I might fail.”
“Yes, and… I’m not sure how to get started.”
“Yes, and… I’m too tired… sad… scared… anxious… to do things differently.”
“Yes, and… I need to break the job down into smaller steps.”
“Yes, and… I didn’t know it would be this hard.”
“Yes, and… I need a little more time.”
“Yes, and… I am going to need more support if I am going to make this happen.”
Do you see the difference? When you think about barriers to change in terms of “Yes, and” you also open the door to identifying how you might be getting in your own way. And then you can then start working on what to do. In other words, you move from being stuck to getting started.
So, the next time you feel that “yes, but” about to stop you in your tracks, try replacing it with “yes, and.” In a way, you are making friends with your “yes, but” by taking the time to learn why that “but” is there and what you can do to overcome it. In the process, you’re making friends with yourself, accepting your fears, lack of readiness, need for support, lack of preparation, need for more guidance, or whatever else stands between you and your progress toward your goal.
Here’s another way to look at that “Yes, but” that keeps you stuck. When you tell yourself “yes, but” you are saying that the solution is outside of yourself, and out of your control. That’s like saying that once all the TV sets in the world disappear, you’ll stop isolating yourself in front of the TV all day, or that once other people stay off the sidewalks, you’ll be more comfortable going for a walk, or that when pizza is finally outlawed, you’ll be able to stop eating it so much.
See the pattern here? “Yes, but” is disempowering. It leaves you a victim of circumstance. “Yes, and” empowers you to look at what YOU can do to begin to incorporate change into your life, one step at a time.
“Yes, and” doesn’t solve your problem. What it does do is open you up to solutions.
What are your “yes, buts?” And your “yes, ands?” Give this technique a try and let me know how it works.
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