But: A Deceptive Conjunction

By FCS | March 8, 2019

“’But’ is a powerful word. It means forget everything I just said, I’m now going to tell you what I really mean.” Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil McGraw is in his 18th season with his hit daytime talk show. His show launched in September 2002, after a recurring guest spot with Oprah, and has recently been extended until 2023. Not only is he the host of his own show, he produces three syndicated daytime programs on CBS: The Doctors, DailymailTV and Face the Truth.

Dr. Phil’s website says his “success stems from his signature “get real” approach to helping his guests solve their problems…” After watching a few clips of his show, you learn very quickly that he has go-to phrases and techniques, including his “Common Sense Alert,” quick one-liners and his opinion of the word “but.”  

The word “but” is a very commonly used phrase on this popular psychology television show because it one of those words people use to try to cover up their true intentions. Some Southerners might use phrases like, “Bless her heart, she…” or the iconic “I love you more than my luggage, but…” from Steel Magnolias. However, the word “but” has provided more license to express harsh words and opinions than we will ever know.

What we do know is that using the word “but” is a consistent excuse for bad behavior. It’s also a great way to avoid, blame and give power to something or someone outside of your zone of control. In other words, the word “but” is a great conjunction to link yourself to making excuses.

There are many reasons people make excuses. Dr. Phil addresses a lot of them on his show. Some of the most common:

  • Fear
  • Self-doubt
  • Lack of self-worth
  • Denial

Perhaps one of the most damaging things about consistently making excuses is that it becomes a habit that you accept. It’s a habit of losing control over your life and everything you want. In her article, “10 Reasons To Boycott The Word ‘But’ And Stop Making Excuses For Everything,” Katie Berbert says making excuses is like “handing the reins over to whatever your excuse is, whether it’s your age, what other people say about you, a disability, your fears, uncertainty or just pure laziness.”

Seriously consider unhitching yourself from the word “but” and any other word that links you to excusing yourself from making the effort to make the most out of your life.

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