Have you ever said something like this:
“Yes, I’d love to get at least seven and a half hours of sleep a night, but…”
“Yes, there’s lots of research showing the benefits of a meditation practice, but…”
“Yes, I spend too much of my day reacting to other people’s priorities, but…”
“Yes, I’d love to find more interesting work, but…”
“Yes, I ought to just pick up the phone and call that friend I haven’t talked to in years, but…”
“Yes, I need to apologize for my comments to her, but…”
“Yes, you could use help cleaning up after the party, but…”
“Yes, I know you’re hungry and need a few dollars for a meal, but…”
“Yes, there’s a pile of dishes that need to be done, but…”
We respond as though we would really, really, really love to do the action. Except we dismiss the idea with an excuse. We don’t allow the space in our minds to consider the suggestion.
The phrase, “Yes, but…” is sneaky. It lets us pretend we’re considering an idea – and maintain our self-perception that we’re open-minded individuals – without considering the idea at all.
So we end up saying no to countless opportunities to serve others – and ourselves – without any meaningful evaluation. We kill beneficial changes in our lives before they have a chance to take root.
But what if we rephrased such statements? Instead of saying, “Yes, but,” what if we tried to say, “Yes, and.”
You could say, for example, “Yes, there’s lots of research showing the benefits of a meditation practice, and I don’t have the time.” Both statements remain valid. Your lack of time doesn’t exclude the value of meditation.
Rather than disqualifying the idea with prejudgment, “yes and” lets you examine the possibility. “Yes, I don’t have time. Though would meditation be something worth doing if I did? Probably. It would help me more present and effective in what I do. Plus, do I really not have the time? It doesn’t take much to get started – just a few minutes a day. Hmmm… I bet I could fit it in first thing in the morning.”
You can look at the idea without hurting or diminishing your excuse. And after that consideration, you might decide the excuse isn’t strong enough. Or you may still decide it is. Only now, you’ve genuinely considered it.
Give it a try. For the next week, every time you’re tempted to say “Yes, but,” try to say “Yes, and,” instead.
You may find yourself open to a whole new world of possibility.