Here is a little breakdown of your comment “I’m proud of my achievements, but I know I need to improve my skills in other areas.”
If you split that into 2 sentences you would get:
- I’m proud of my achievements
- I know I need to improve my skills in other areas.
The sentences were joined with the word ‘but’
The dreaded ‘but’ word has the effect of canceling out anything that was said before it.
So if I turn your sentence into a mathematical equation you would get:
Positive Statement BUT Less Positive Statement
The positive statement (I’m proud of my achievements) is canceled out and you leave the less positive statement (I know I need to improve my skills in other areas)
hanging in your mind.
This pattern is called the but-swap. You take everything from before the ‘but’ and put it afterwards and vice versa so that you are left with:
Less Positive Statement BUT Positive Statement
I know I need to improve my skills in other areas BUT I’m proud of my achievements.
and so you are leaving the positive statement hanging in your mind.
Now, this might all seem like nit-picking and for a single sentence then it probably is. Thing is though, most people have habits in their language and this can become a pattern that is used over and over. If it is then, over time, the effects become bigger.
Anyway just as a test try saying these 2 sentences out loud (really emphasizing the word but) and see which one feels better to you.
- I’m proud of my achievements, BUT I know I need to improve my skills in other areas.
- I know I need to improve my skills in other areas BUT I’m proud of my achievements.
Now that you know how this pattern works, perhaps you’ll spot other people using it and the more that you do, the more that you’ll be able to spot if you use it yourself.
If you do find yourself using it, then it’s not a reason to beat yourself up, it’s a reason to celebrate that you are taking control of your language 🙂
I hope that I’ve explained this OK. Let me know if I need to clarify.