Have you ever wanted to leave but stayed? Write about that. Or, wanted to stay but left? Write about that!
Challenge all the buts in your writing. Is there a fuller message or narrative to be discovered? Write about that. Possibly some of these buts are pointing to a dialectic truth, a paradox. An inconsistency worth exploring.
Buts used in writing can be a bit lazy. We may throw in a but when there's more to write. In verbal communication it lends to a hidden agenda or message where buts prevent a vulnerability or truthfulness. The reader or other is not invited into a deeper exploration or meaning when you hide behind a but.
Inherent in these statements are a promise of paradox. A vulnerability. When you can change "I love you but" to "I love you and", one becomes receptive and vulnerable to the other. When the other is a reader, you have brought the reader closer in to you and more of your story. More is always better here.
Sentences with buts may hold a contradiction that can be narrated and explored as a paradox. Or, a but in our writing and speech can point to a microaggression. A paradox is a beautiful thing. When we explore and live our contradictions we discover an underlying paradox. We discover the fuller story and personal truth. When our written word or speech is a microaggression, it restricts us and the other. A microaggression in some way communicates a derogatory, hostile and negative attitude toward another. Typically and historically, microaggressions are toward a stigmatized or marginalized group.
Buts can also be used to gaslight. Bullies rely on the language of bullying to undermine others. Here is an article on Bullying and Gaslighting.
I can't help it but you can.
I told you but you weren't paying attention.
Children are to be seen but not heard.
You're a good person but there's something off about you.
I love you but I can't live with you.
I don't like my neighbor, but I am not a racist.
You're not fat but you could lose some weight.
That's a good idea but let's wait to see if there is a better one.
Within each story and person is an intersectionality of experience, traditions, beliefs, and identities. The recognition of contradictions along with the promise of paradox appreciates this intersectionality. This appreciation creates a meeting place of vulnerability and connection.
The written word and our speech can be superpowers. Or weapons we use to inhibit and destroy.
Go put your cape on.
(And write about that!)
Join us in FIRST WEDNESDAYS where we explore through embodied writing, ritual, indigenous ways of discovery, breath and meditation. Come this June I will be holding one of my writing support circles in-person, the 1st Tuesday night of the month. Email me for more information or to register. And! Starting my next Red Thread circle based on Parker J Palmer's circles of trust and my books: The Clue of the Red Thread, and The Zero Point Agreement. 1st Thursday evenings of the month.
"There is a third way to respond, a way beyond choosing either this pole or that: let us call it “living the contradictions.” Here we refuse to flee from tension but allow that tension to occupy the center of our lives. And why would we want to do that? Because by doing so, we may receive one of the great gifts of the spiritual life, the transformation of contradiction into paradox. The poles of either-or, the choices we thought we had to make, may become signs of a larger truth than we had even dreamed—and in that truth, our lives may become larger than we ever imagined possible." Palmer, Parker J.. The Promise of Paradox