But--it permeates our vocabulary. It's a filthy little word. It gets us to lie to ourselves and severely limits us without us even knowing it. Example:

"I want to visit my aging parents, but it's too far to drive."

But usually means: "Ignore all that good-sounding stuff that came before--here comes the truth." You might even consider BUT as an acronym for Behold the Underlying Truth.

The truth is that mom and dad are not getting a visit. Then, entering stage left are two of but's closest friends: if only and try.

"If only they were 50 miles closer, I'd be getting on the highway to mom and dad's now. If only the 405 freeway wasn't always so backed up, I'd be at my parents' side right now. I'm going to try to get there over the weekend."

Unless of course we are too busy, too poor, too tired, too _________ (fill in the blank with your favorite).

And even if everything was peachy, there's the dreaded naked but. This is the but we use when ignoring our own good advice. When ignoring the unbearably good advice of others, we use the hyphenated version: yes-but.

Advice: "You really should pay your car insurance."

Response: "Yes-but, I don't get paid until next week."

Advice: "You could get an advance on your credit card."

Response: "Yes-but, I owe so much already."

Advice: "You have no insurance!"

Response: "Yes-but, I'll drive real careful."

And so it goes.

When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them. Yes-but means, "Here comes the argument for my limitations."

Eliminate your but from your thinking, and enjoy a more positive outlook.