Abracadabra, Do and Then Learn


Did you know that “Abracadabra” comes from the Bible? In it, God says, “I created as I spoke.” Wow, talk about prioritizing action and words! There’s that other expression, “Sh*t or get off the pot.” I must share the German/Yiddish version, “Tuchas ofen Tish” which literally means get your butt off the table. But you know what I mean.


I am curious about what keeps people on the table and less likely to get off. What sustains the “no, but” mess when told to put up or shut up.


When researching scenarios of the quagmire of putting up verses shutting up, I found a few examples that ask, “should I stay or should I go?” This happens more with employment and relationships.


We all know someone or have been there ourselves when we are in a rut. Frozen in a job we hate, in a relationship that is negative.


I know a young man who had a great first job, however, two years later, it started to go downhill. He was working on a project where it was expected to stay extra-long after work, as in past 9 p.m. The young man complained and worried. But he wouldn’t speak up. It was the culture of “stay very late” all the time on an account that lacked the needed resources. He was exhausted.


It is hard to be on the other end of the complainer. There is nothing you can suggest that doesn’t get a no but. Eventually you say, “stop complaining” or get another job. Eventually, he called an employment agent and the agent lined him up for some interviews.


Still nervous, still complaining but acting, he gets more support from friends. Finally, he gets hired in a new place. He is hopeful and there is a certain new calm to him. 


Another scenario is in personal relationships. This can be with a friend or love interest. You’ve heard of the term “frenemies.” They are friendships that appear to be reciprocal. This friend is very sure of herself. She is reliable and resourceful, all great qualities. Except you feel bad after many exchanges. While some exchanges are good because you are both in agreement, when you are not, you are wrong, as in most times. This person is very judgmental and you’ve had it. You tell your sibling, your spouse, over and over how mad you are. When questioned “is this worth it?” You say, “no but….”


You never speak up, and you won’t let go of the “friendship.” It goes on for years. I know of a few people of whom I finally let go. They are not criminals, I’m just not that in to them anymore.


This is much harder with relatives, family members, spouses. You do have options but less to do with sheer willpower and more to do with changing your circumstances or environment. The research likens this with addiction. I always think addictions to drugs, alcohol, politics etc. are akin to relationships. Alcoholics anonymous is a good case in point. The meetings provide support and allow members the voice as one key for abstinence. They also council to avoid tempting circumstances from bars to fellow drinkers.


Here are some rules for “Sh*t or get off the pot” behavior.


  • Decide what you really want.
  • Make a commitment toward the decision
  • Change and adapt to your environment.
  • It is less about willpower and more about who and what surrounds you.
  • Look at the addictions that conflict with your goal.
  • Make sure you are involved in healthy things you enjoy.


Last, here’s my latest change. I have down time in the morning before my two evening jobs. If I don’t have an errand or something to clean, I am watching the news—to which I admit I am addicted. It hit me:


Find something to do that is rewarding for a few hours in the morning. It must be meaningful and provide a way to give.


A friend of mine mentioned the Food Bank of South Jersey. I went to orientation. What an education! This a huge center where sorting foods, eliminating dated foods and other activities are the tasks at hand. Down the road duties may change. I met the nicest people who have the same goals as I do.


I did it. I changed my environment. It even gave me writing material as in this article.


There’s another saying that comes from the Bible, “Do and then learn.” In other words, learn from doing and do what fulfills your goals. I hope this inspires you to make a change for the better in your life.



Beth grew up in Camden, New Jersey and majored in Education and History at Rutgers University and later obtained a Masters in Family Therapy at Drexel University. She’s married to her husband of 41 years with two young adult children—a daughter and son—who both work in NYC. She loves movies, Netflix, books, history, linguistics and exploring the human condition. From her extensive background, she’s accumulated many stories and lessons and looks forward to shaping the conversation.