But: The Real Meaning Behind Some Words


How many times a day would you estimate that you say the word, but? Or, here’s a real question, how many times a day do your kids say, but?

Almost a million years ago, when I was working in Psychiatry on an inpatient hospital unit. I met a Doctor, who had a cool suggestion for some of his patients. He asked them to put a little dot with a regular pen on the back of their hand every time they felt angry. Of course, all of the patients who tried this experiment were shocked at the number of occasions each day they felt angry.

What do you think would happen if we all did the same experiment, but instead we did it for every time we said, but? I would guess, too many times.


1.On the contrary: the plan caused not prosperity but ruin.

2.Contrary to expectation; yet: She organized her work but accomplished very little. He is tired but happy.

3.With the exception that; except that.    ~Your Dictionary

Do we really run into that many situations and or people who are wrong or incorrect? No, of course not. It’s statistically impossible. Our overuse of the word, ‘but’ is one example of the hidden meanings that words can have.

When people misuse, “but” they are often actually running into situations where they want or think that they need to be right. People who “need” to be right are in fact usually the ones who deep inside believe that they are “wrong.” Feeling “wrong,” as if they aren’t part of the whole and or lacking some essential innate quality.

Too many people perceive themselves as not deserving, good enough, strong enough, or bright enough. Then due to this belief, these people can have an internal voice that keeps saying “but” to every positive thought or hope.

There is also a larger thing that can be going on with people which also creates this negative internal voice. A deep insecurity or fear. When this type of instability occurs, the goals that people set for themselves are often diverted with that inner “but” wall.

Sadly, all of these perceptions mean that dreams, hopes, wants, and even needs all start getting answered with: but. A motivation killer and immobiliser for sure.

So a simple but effective trick if you struggle with this type of thinking is to become conscious of when you do it and force yourself to literally take the word “but” out of your internal scenarios.