The Alchemical Power of And

All my life I wanted to write. For most of my life up until the last few years I did not write. And it was all because of the following recurring thought in my head:


I was dead and done before I had even started with that limiting-belief. So I spent over 20 years thinking about writing for fun & creative self-expression without actually ever doing it.

Sure, I wrote plenty during my K-12 schooling and in college but it was never for myself. It was never because I chose to. It was always because it was assigned.

In high school we had to keep a journal as part of our class assignment and turn it in at the end of the week.  

I cheated. Cheated on the assignment (sorry, Mrs. Crowley) and cheated myself.

Instead of actually journaling each day like the assignment prescribed I would wake up at 4:30am the morning it was due and write out 7-days worth of fake journaling.

I went to ridiculous extremes to avoid actually writing for my own creative expression. This is despite the fact that deep down I secretly wanted to be a writer pretty much ever since I started reading.

My resistance to my own apotheosis was quite strong. My own mother recommended that I journal out life-conflicts dozens of times. When I had tough choices to make. When I was going through “stuff.” And when I was going through major depression.

I resisted.

My best friend (and now fiancé) recommended journaling to me for years as well. And still I resisted.

Luckily, three years ago I stumbled upon The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and finally began to journal for my own personal creative expression.

I am still pondering why that book was the final catalyst that kicked me over the starting-line. Thinking about it now I believe it's because the author was able to beautifully tie together spiritual communion with the act of artistic creation and personal expression.  

This had been something I was searching for and didn't even realize it until it happened.

In her book Julia Cameron repeatedly prescribes action & focus on process without attachment to outcome.

The cornerstone of the book's work is a daily prescription of 3-pages of longhand journaling done upon waking each day. What Julia Cameron call's "Morning Pages."

Even with this simple practice my resistance was quite strong in the beginning. I remember the first day of this I spent just about all three pages writing about just how resistant I was feeling to the whole endeavor.

Somehow I was able to stick with it. And thus begun my writing. Writing for me. Writing that I did because I wanted to.

What is especially cosmically comical is that I bought the book 3-4 years prior and it had just been sitting in my home for years. Even making three separate moves with me. Following me along. Just waiting for me to begin.

I laugh at myself for this and think about the maxim "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." I guess I needed to spend two decades in creative self-oppression.

It has been a slow unfolding for me me and my writing.

During the early period of my writing I was still held back by the limiting-belief that was still playing on subconscious repeat in my head... "I want to write BUT I don't know what to write about."

I had to overcome this every day in my morning journaling. It was a struggle.

Then I learned a concept that was life-altering for my creative writing and just about all areas of life. It removed the struggle and replaced it with an opening to possibility and adventure.

I call this concept…

And Alchemy

The basic formula is this two-step process:


  1. I want to ________ (thing you want to do), BUT ________ (reasons you are held back from doing the thing) is simply transformed into:
  2. I want to ________ (thing you want to do), AND ________ (possibility to explore, learn, and discover).


In my case with writing it would go like this:

  1. I want to write but I don't know what to write about.
  2. I want to write and I get to write about anything and everything that interests me.


In the first sentence all opportunity and potential forward movement is shut down and stopped by the limiting word "but."  Whenever we use the word "but" we are left with little or no personal power.

In the second transformed sentence an opening to the world of possibility is created by the word "and." The word "and" encourages and empowers us to explore and harness limitless possibility.

With this alchemical framework I went from struggling against the impending shut down with the repeating sentence of "I want to write but I don't know what to write" into the creative space of limitless possibility with:


The concept is simple in its solution and profound in its effect.  

When I applied the but/and concept to my writing I was completely freed up. I realized that it didn't matter that I didn't know what to write about. I could write about anything and everything, allowing the journey to unfold itself.  

And that is exactly what I did. I have been writing pretty much daily since January 31st, 2014.

This is how I came to realize that I love writing about transformation.

And I am still discovering what I write about. 

There are many mornings I wake up being held back by "but I don't know what to write about." I gently switch out the "but" for "and" and begin again.

I am going through this same mysterious unfolding with my creative expression online. In this area I run into the "but" all the time and have to consciously replace it with “and” — remembering to embrace the journey of exploration having faith that it will unfold exactly how it is supposed to.

Anytime you find yourself using the word "but" try switching it out with "and" and build from there.

This framework can be used in just about any area of life.  

"I want a new job/career but I don't know what I want to do" becomes "I want a new job/career and I get to try & explore everything that interest me until I discover what I want do next."

"I want to exercise regularly but I don't know what exercise is best for me" is transformed into "I want to exercise regularly and I get to try every type of exercise that interests me until I find one I love."

I've yet to find an area of life where the but/and alchemization process doesn't create an opening from which you are empowered to create forward movement.

What I learned from this experience:

  1. The word "but" is always an indication that I am cutting myself off from possibility.
  2. In any area of life I am experiencing oppression and the feeling of being stuck I am likely using the word "but" in my thoughts/beliefs around this area.
  3. In order to create possibility all I have to do is change my language and change my mental context. Like Nietzsche said, “Language dictates consciousness." 
  4. By employing "and" with action I can create breakthroughs in any area of life.

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. Identify an area of life where you are feeling stuck and become aware of the "but" that is holding you back.
  2. Apply the AND ALCHEMY to the situation. It helps to write out the "but" limiting-belief and then rewrite it with the "and" possibility.
  3. Take action on the possibility that you have created and keep coming back the "and" possibility again and again until "but" has faded from existence in this area of life.
  4. Remember that "but" can and will likely creep back in. Especially if it's been there for some time. Instead of beating yourself up, laugh it off while restoring yourself to possibility through renewed commitment to "and" plus action.

The longer I live the more I come to deeply understand how the only obstacle that is actually ever in the way is our "limited-self".  

We build our own prisons with the words and contexts which we invent both consciously and subconsciously.

No one does this to us. We do it to ourselves.

Yet, as the creators of the power that binds us we are able to free ourselves with awareness and directed new action.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

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