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The AND Factor

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Here’s the thing.

I may have always known about the and factor. Or to be honest, thought it was a bit silly, fake.

I started practicing this a few years ago. At first it was extremely challenging, and like I said - silly. It has become a mantra of mine, and really works in so many different life situations.

For me, it started with replacing the but with and. I’ll tell you what I’m talking about to start making sense of it.

“ I try to be such a good mother but then I snap and all my hard work went down the drain cuz I yelled at my child and now he’s crying.”

“ I started working out this week but then by Tuesday I stopped.”

“ I love having a clean house but I have no time.”

“ I am have a great CV but I’m not getting any job interviews.”

Do these sounds familiar?

Here’s what happens. When we use but, it completely takes away and credit for the first part of the sentence.

See, the feelings that are going on behind these sentences look like this:

I have been on my A game all day. Trying to be a good mother, not yelling, ignoring the mess (read: trying to be perfect), making dinner, switching the laundry. I have been amazing!! But then my son spilled his dinner on his floor Everything came spilling out, I screamed at him, he cried, I felt stupid and the shame and guilt just piled up like crazy. I’m clearly not a good mother, look at how this day ended.

I started working out, planning on keeping it up daily for the next two weeks (true story!). But by the time Tuesday came, I couldn’t find the time to do it. I’m such a failure, after two days I didn’t pull through. I always do this (hear the self-shaming?). It was a worthless attempt.

So I switched the but for and.

“I tried to be such a good mother today, and then I snapped.”

I am validating and giving myself a tremendous amount of praise for the first part, and is an addition, not a contradiction.

And then I snapped. I did not take away any of my amazingness. And is what happened next, and I can hold both feelings.

The beauty of and is that in the case above, it’s easier to snap out of it. I know that currently I hard a hard moment, but it doesn’t come with all (although a bit!) of the guilt feelings. True, I feel bad for that very moment of snapping, but it doesn’t negate the whole first part of the day. That way, the guilt is not piling up onto a mountain I can’t climb. I feel bad for the moment, validate that I’m human (you bet!) and move forward.

And enables us to not wallow in our flaws. It gives space for our humanity without undoing all the good.

Shortly after my stillbirth, this took on a whole new meaning to me as many questions came up.

Am I not grateful for what I have (a beautiful family) as I mourn my loss all day long?

And then on the flip side -

Am I not mourning or do I no longer feel the sadness as I go about day to day life and enjoy?

I can be both. I can be happy for what I have and sad for what I don’t. The two feelings are not a contradiction, rather simultaneously existing.

We have this in marriage as well. You can love an appreciate your husband, AND be annoyed by a bad habit of his. That’s ok. You’re normal and human. It doesn’t need to be one or the other: I love him so much and he so amazing so I must be a horrible wife that x always annoys me!

Recently, I had a great day, but went sour towards the end. I was in a bad mood, emotional, tired.. You get the picture.

I was on the phone with a dear friend who asked me how my day was. I said “90% good”. Then I caught myself and said “I take it back. I had a 100% good day. 10% of it was really difficult.”

Remove the but.

Replace it with an and.

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