One of the first things I tell new counseling or coaching clients is my favorite word because it has magical psychological powers. That magical word is AND. You might be thinking that it is a lame favorite word, but it really has some magical properties AND you need to know them because using it more often can bring you more peace, insight, problem solving powers, self-love and relief.
Magical Psychological Power #1: AND Helps You Get Unstuck
You are a complex human being with a complex psyche and you get to have more than one feeling at a time. For instance, you can feel love AND frustration at the same time. Like most people, you probably tend to use the word “but” instead. Take the sentence “I am so frustrated, but I love him.” Let’s say he makes a habit of embarrassing you in public and you’ve set a boundary around the behavior, but he continues the behavior. You continue to get embarrassed, which leads to your frustration. You have nowhere to go if you keep using the sentence “I am so frustrated, but I love him.”
The use of the word “but” psychologically negates the first half of the sentence. What is implied is that yes, you are frustrated, but you are powerless to do anything because you love him. Basically. you are telling yourself to get over your issue and that isn’t going to go well. You won’t be solving your problem and the issue isn’t handled, which will lead to a build up of resentment in the relationship.
Now let’s insert AND instead. ” I am frustrated AND I love him.” Yes! Both parts are the sentence are true and exist simultaneously. He’s doing something irritating and embarrassing AND you love this guy. Notice how much more freeing this is. Now you can continue to work on the boundary about the embarrassing you in public thing and love him too. Hooray! It doesn’t mean that it won’t be challenging (AND is good, but not that good), and now you can begin to solve your problem and move forward together instead of shutting yourself down.
Magical Psychological Power #2: AND is an Antidote to Complaining
I had a previous relationships where people have been cruel, verbally abusive, manipulative and even conniving. I boy did I love to complain about it with others! I would tell such good stories about their obnoxious behaviors to little ole me and get others to say “Oh my God!” or “How horrible that he/she did that to you!!” and You poor thing!” (I am not talking about being empowered and actually asking for help in getting out of these relationships or looking for actual strategies on how to improve them or getting actual support when I was completely helpless until I could could myself and get out – that’s something different – I’m talking about honest to God complaining). The trouble with complaining is that it justs prolongs the misery. Now let’s add the magic word: I’m in a relationship with someone cruel, verbally abusive, manipulative and conniving AND I am making a conscious choice to stay in that relationship. What’s up with that? The reason AND works is not to make myself feel bad, but to actually look at MY part in the relationship – I continued to take the cruelty and verbal abuse. Other people can’t continue to act out their negative behaviors without my permission. If I am just complaining, I am not moving in the direction of a solution, but continuing to stay in the problem.
AND gives you that same gift because it gives you a place to start. You might be used to complaining about others for their bad behavior and that habit creates a lack of insight. It reminds me of that saying about when you point a finger at someone else that there are three fingers pointing back at you. I’m not saying that the other person is totally off the hook or what is happening is okay. What I am saying is that it is your responsibility to look at how you might be contributing to the problem and how you allow bad behaviors to continue.
Magical Psychological Power #3: AND Helps You Know and Accept Yourself Fully
It does this by allowing you to own all aspects of yourself, even when they conflict with each other. Remember, your psyche is vast and complex. Taking ownership and accepting all of your feelings – possibly even celebrating them – can lead you to so much freedom and happiness.
Someone can be or feel generous AND selfish, kind AND mean, strong AND weak, helpless AND empowered, serious AND silly, shy AND outspoken, fearful AND determined, satisfied AND unsatisfied – you get the idea. The possbilities of paradox, dichotomies and contradictions are endless. Owning them can help you have compassion for yourself because if you have a moment when you are not perfect or if you’re thoughtless or you’ve gotten it wrong, you can remember that you are so much more than that and all you have to do is reach for your new favorite word.