Lunch was super simple, but that doesn’t mean it lacked flavor.
I made myself a roast beef wrap with cheese, hummus, spinach and mustard and served it with a sliced apple.
Now that the roast beef is out of the way, let’s get to the meat of this post. (Anyone catch that pun? Muhaha!)
Changing “Yes But” to “Yes And”
Back in November I had a a life changing conversation.
I don’t throw the term “life changing” around. As delicious as my all-time favorite hot fudge sundae from Houston’s is, it’s still not “life changing.”
But this conversation certainly was life changing for me.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was struggling with some personal stuff. I talked to Ryan and a few people who are close to me about what I was going through, but it wasn’t until I sat down and talked with my mother-in-law’s boyfriend, Les, that something clicked.
As I explained my struggles to Les, who coincidentally has a master’s degree in psychology, he asked me a lot of questions. He dug deep and made me answer the uncomfortable questions.
Eventually he said something that blew my mind.
“You need to change ‘yes but…’ to ‘yes and…’”
He pointed out that I had a reason or excuse for every single question he asked me.
For the sake of explanation, let’s use the example of a toxic relationship. One that tears you down and is draining. One that causes more tears than smiles.
In this situation, Les would say something like, “Do you want to break up with him?”
And I would reply, “Yes, but he makes me laugh and we have so much fun when he’s in a good mood.”
Not the right answer.
He encouraged me to change the “buts” to “ands” and be proactive. Make a change. Figure a way out.
“Do you want to break up with him?”
“Yes, and I’m going to talk to him tonight and explain how he’s hurting me. I’m going to plan a weekend with my girlfriends so I’ll have a solid support system when we’re done talking. I’m going to remember all the pain he caused me and use that to allow me to stick with my decision and understand that I deserve better.”
It sounds so simple, but changing “yes but” to “yes and” completely altered the way I think. Berthold Gunster is the founder of this incredible philosophy.
When I’m faced with a difficult decision, a daunting task, hurtful words or a complicated situation, rather than talk myself out of why I’m hurt, upset or won’t succeed, I try to acknowledge these feelings and think about what I can do to work around them. How can I acknowledge the difficulty, learn from it, move on and come out on top? How can I be proactive?
Thinking about this in relation to my personal goals also helped me.
Let’s say you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, but when someone asks you if you’re planning on it, you reply, “Yes, but I’m not a natural runner and feel like I want to die after running only three miles, so it’s never going to happen!”
Change that “yes but” to a “yes and” and figure out how you can make it possible.
“Do you want to run a marathon?”
“Yes, and I know it’s going to be really hard, but I found an awesome training plan for beginners and will work up to running long distances at a smart and reasonable pace.”
It is so incredibly simple, but this one conversation really impacted me and I’ve been meaning to share it with you guys for quite some time.
I know we all struggle with insecurities, challenges and difficult situations. Sometimes it’s easier to accept defeat, but all too often that doesn’t do anything to make us feel better emotionally. We’re still hurting or feeling like a failure.
Having a game plan and taking the time to think about how and why I need to make a change or tackle a new challenge really made a big difference in my life and I hope that thinking in this way might appeal to even just one of you!
Changing “yes but” to “yes and” is so simple and so hard all at the same time.
“Yes but” is a “no” or an “I can’t.”
“Yes but” prevents things from happening. “Yes and” makes things happen.
Question of the Afternoon
- What is a recent “yes but” in your life? Can you think of a way to change it to “yes and”?
I was in a really bad/abusive relationship 2 years ago…can’t believe it’s been that long…and I wish someone would have sat me down to say that. There’s an excuse for everything, but it reality it’s the yes and that got me out of it!
i’m SO glad you were able to get out!
Sometimes I really have to remind myself that everyone has issues .. When I read your blog your life seems so together and perfect, but of course that’s just not how real life is ..
I was in a really bad relationship for over two years, very abusive both physically and mentally and one day it was like something clicked in my head and it was just over. I’m now married to an amazing man who is so supportive of everything I do and because he appreciated me for who I was then, it makes me strive to be an even better person for him.
I hope everything is alright in Julie Land 🙂
i am so glad you found an amazing man and a way out of such an awful relationship! (and yes, everything it okay over here! 🙂 thanks for caring!)
I love this question. Definitely a great way to redirect your thoughts toward something more positive.
Right now, mine is: My job is very stressful AND I am going to find ways to make time for myself so I can focus on my work.
Goes hand in hand with a new mantra I’ve adopted: Every day may not be good but there is something good in every day.
Thank you for sharing this, i recognize myself in all of this!
Anna Dwarshuis says
Hi there Julie, we really love your post! So nice that you mentioned Berthold Gunster, the founder of the Yes-but Philosophy. We hope many people all over the world will enjoy his thoughts! Check http://www.yes-but.org/. Love from Holland!
Thank you for sharing – it’s so wonderful when you can get a little reminder to stop and think about why you say “but” or what your fears. Great post!
Like a lot of others are saying — thank you. I needed this. I say yes, BUT all the time. I’m struggling to find a job after graduation and trying to figure out what my next step might have to be in case I cant. I can’t find a job, yes, and I am going back to school to get a more useful degree…?
carrie (actsofrebellion) says
i LOVE this. so crazy how such a little change can make all the difference.
Allie @ Healthy Balance, Healthy Life says
Changing “yea, but”s to “yea, and”s is a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) technique.
It’s a good way to validate your feelings while not negating the first half of them with a sentence. So, in terms of your first sentence “Yes, but he makes me laugh etc.” You can change that to “Yes, AND he makes me laugh and I know it will be hard to leave because I miss that”…what comes after the and doesn’t necessarily have to be an action. The change in thinking comes first and the action follows! 🙂
Thank you for this post, it is SUCH a simple concept but SO hard to accomplish. But I think if we all worked on it we would all be much happier with ourselves.
p.s. I just started reading your blog and I love it!
Wow! That was great! I am definitely a yes, but person when it comes to certain things. Kind of felt I was being called out in your running example as I have been wanting to run a 10k and have been using the yes, but like it’s going out of style! Great motivation…Thanks!!
Kim @ The Family Practice says
Can you tell my 4 year old? When I ask him to do anything – put on your shoes, get ready for bed, whatever – he says “yes, but….” and then wiggles his way around whatever I’m asking him to do. The same goes for us grown ups. We know what we need to do or what we would like to be able to do and then “yes, but” our way out of it. I love this “yes, and” approach – so simple and yet so empowering.
Katy Widrick says
LOVE THIS and I think there’s an equally important statement that starts with “No and…”
Right now, I’m doing my best to turn down opportunities and work that does’t fit the goals that truly make me happy and fulfilled, and being OK with that. So I have been saying a lot of “No, and here’s why” or “No, and while I thank you for considering me, I can’t accept for these reasons.”
I have a similar philosophy that I try to use daily. I read it in a book called Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong.
If every time you were about to say “I have to” and changed it to “I get to” it might change your whole experience.
It helps me remember not to take simple things for granted…like being employed (I have to go to work vs I get to go to work), or exercising (I have to go work out vs I get to go work out).
Stephanie @My Freckled Life says
What a powerful message! And one that definitely made me think about the “yes but”s in my life. I’ve always been the kind of person who constantly sells myself short on things. Especially when receiving a compliment. I’m always quick to respond with a “yes but” or a “thank you but”. But this post really made me think about how often I use though, and you are completely right – changing a “yes but” to a “yes and” can make a world of difference.
Thanks again for an insightful post, and I hope whatever situations you are dealing with are getting better with “yes ands”!
What a great philosophy!!! So simple, but so true in every single way! I am going to start answering with a yes and more often!! Thank you!!
I can not even begin to tell you how this simple post has changed my life. As a college student taking care of myself has not always been on the top of my list. But recently I had begun to think about how I could start taking care of myself more. Right around the time of this post I started to work out on a regular basis for the first time in my life! I know it has only been a few weeks but I have thought about “yes but” vs “yes and” MANY a time. Thank you for the inspiration to get up and push myself.
Thank you for sharing this! As I read it something clicked with me as well, it was like a light bulb came on in my head! I was like wait that’s too easy. But as I thought out current situations that I am struggling with and used “and” it was like it fell into place. It forces you to find a way to get what you want and stop standing in your own way! Thank you!!
Brilliant! That’s a helpful suggestion for shifting to a healthier perspective during challenging times. It’s amazing how the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. Thanks for sharing!
This is so silly, but I track this post down and read it every other month or so. It has really helped me stay on track/sane through the process of applying to medical school. Thank you 🙂
Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers says
ths means a lot to me, summer. thank you!