Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.



Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life.

TWYLALTR: Take What You Like and Leave the Rest

A loved one asks for your advice on how to handle a prickly situation. You offer advice, with enthusiasm. And then? Your loved one proceeds to ignore your advice and does something entirely different, if not opposite, from what you suggested. Grrrrrrr.

A colleague asks you how to fix a technical problem because you have a reputation for being good at fixing these types of things. You reply, “Oh, that’s simple: blah, blah, blah.” Your colleague fails to do the “blah, blah, blah” as you described it, and the technical problem either persists or gets worse. Grrrr, again!

What is missing in these examples? What tool could you use in either of these examples to minimize frustration, and maximize joy? The TWYLALTR tool! You can call it the “TWYLA LATER” tool if you want an easy way to pronounce this acronym. TWYLATR stands for: Take What You Like and Leave the Rest.

Now, go back to the first example, and imagine how your Grrrr reaction might be minimized if you were to offer your advice, still with enthusiasm, but follow it by saying, “So, take what you like and leave the rest.” You may still hope that this loved one completely follows your advice, but by uttering this short phrase, you convey that 1) you are not the boss of this person and they get to act with free will, and 2) you are not overly attached to the outcome.

In the second example, let’s say you offer your fix for the technical problem but follow it up by saying “TWYLALTR.” You have immediately lowered your expectation that this colleague will do exactly what you have told them to do. This phrase might also convey an acknowledgment that there could be more than one way to fix the problem.

In each of these examples, TWYLALTR loosens up our expectations about what should happen next, and gives the recipient permission to be deliberately selective in sorting through the ideas, opinions, or suggestions being offered. The by-product is that the possibility of willfulness, in either the deliverer or the recipient of TWYLALTR, decreases, and the likelihood of joy increases.

Willfulness in the deliverer comes across as strident or opinionated (or both) and conveys the belief that there is only one right way to do something: my way. Willfulness in the recipient comes across as reluctance or resistance (or both) to hear or heed what the deliverer has to offer. What a setup for discord! Throw TWYLALTR in the mix and perhaps there will be a happier outcome. If the deliverer uses this phrase, the irony is that it may increase the likelihood that the recipient will adopt or integrate what has been offered! Do not count on this, though, as sometimes the recipient leaves all of it, not just some of it! On the receiving end, when you hear TWYLALTR, resistance to hearing what you may not want to hear is less likely, or a knee-jerk tendency to reject what has been offered may be overcome! This is a “win-win” tool that promotes joy and prevents contentious or tense exchanges. So why not try it? Or if you don’t want to try it, how about if you take-what-you-like-and-leave-the-rest?

Snag #1: For the Deliverer

If someone asks your opinion, make sure you do not mistakenly hear this request as “tell me what to do.” An opinion is an opinion, especially if accompanied by TWYLALTR. Before you get mad at someone for ignoring an opinion offered, ask yourself if you accurately heard the request. It can be tricky because sometimes the words do not match the tug you might feel in the request!


Snag #2: For the Requester

If you request an opinion or advice, make sure you do not say “tell me what to do” unless this is precisely what you want.  “Tell me what to do” is more likely to invoke expectations that ideas will be adopted or followed!  Instead, you could approach it with “I am soliciting opinions” or “I am taking a poll” thereby diminishing the chances of being misunderstood.

Joy-Gram for May 2013

Give it a whirl!  Try using TWYLALTR in a situation or relationship where you have noticed a tendency to get over-invested in outcome.  Take note of how this affects the exchange.  And REALLY:  take what you like about Out on a Limb, either this month or any month, and leave the rest!

Your May 2013 Prompts for Joy

Click here to see a puppy learn from a TWYLALTR-style teacher.  (Thank you, Soraya Moafi!) 

Click here for a glimpse of strangers interacting without willfulness.  (Thanks, Akaya Windwood.)

Do a Daily Dance: Bring on the Joy!

The #1 video on the D.D.D. playlist for this month shows a two-year-old who comes by his talent naturally! (With thanks to Annie Gibbons.)

Pictured Above

A friend of mine recently commented, “what’s with the sunglasses?” Well, both my mother and father had to have eye surgery in their later years due, in part, to over-exposure to the sun. I hope to prevent that by wearing sunglasses! But just to prove that I really do have eyes, here is a rare picture of me in the sun without my sunglasses on! Photo by Michael Sally, in sunny Monterey, California.

Archives Available

To re-read or share past Out On A Limb newsletters, click here, or type the following url into your browser: http://www.mcscala.com/html/EZineArchives.html.

By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·

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