A few weeks ago I talked about how I was discovering the ways the simple little question - "Why?" - was helping me step out of arrogance and delve into what is really going on in situations. There are two other little magic words that have created an enormous amount of freedom and surprising results as I get more conscious practice with them - "No." and "Yes!".
When attempting to work through a difficult work situation earlier this year I had tried a variety of things to shift the dynamics and find some resolution and flow. When none of these things worked, I quieted down and spent some time away from trying to figure it out. Into my quiet mind popped my alternatives - step out completely (No.) or step in completely (Yes!).
This always makes me think of the hokey-pokey song. "Put your whole self in. Put your whole self out. And then shake it all about." Who knew that was a profoundly philosophical song.
When returning to the difficult situation I found myself with a clear Yes! and stepped more fully into the situation. It felt good to not be trying to ride two horses with one butt. Interestingly, the situation found it's own resolution and through that time of a full Yes! I was able to cleanly find the endpoint and No.
The work I've done shows me how often I say yes when really I mean no. I've begun to see how I'm being unkind to myself and the other person when I do so and how many stories I have about simply saying that word cleanly and evenly with no extras.
This is a huge lesson for me on the road to getting out of everyone else's business.
No. My mind starts in with: "That's mean." "You shouldn't do that." "They won't like you." and so on. And then comes the elaborate explanations of why I can't, the back and forth of not being sure and any other wiggly behaviors that allow me to try and hide from simply standing still and saying it straight. No.
Katie suggests using a balancing statement with the word "and" to provide a kind bridge to your no. I love how these statements provide honesty and also a place for me to stand still and acknowledge what's true for me.
She suggests that you find the words that make the most sense to you. Here are a few of my favorites.
Thank you, and no.
I'm confused right now, and until I'm clear, no.
I hear you, and no.
She cues us to watch for words such as "because" and "but" as they separate you from your integrity - what's true for you.
Imagine how much energy you would save if you simply gave the answer that you had in the moment with no story attached. Ask yourself and then simply and kindly tell them what's true.
The flip side of that coin is a tendency to not completely say Yes! to things in your life. Can you find all these variations of yes? "Maybe." "OK." "Whatever." And these behaviors: Yes and then you don't do it. Yes, and then you do it, sullenly with kicking feet and pouting. Maybe and then don't do it.
I find some of Eckart Tolle's writing on this to be helpful. In his book, A New Earth, he talks in the last chapter about ways of being present. He notes that whenever you're doing something with a no or resistance it would really help the situation if you stopped and only went on when you allowed acceptance to be there. Stop until there is at least a small "yes, this is what is happening now."
His example is changing a tire on a rainy night. Without acceptance the mind is having a field day creating horrible scenarios. Even a small "yes" would allow you to become present.
Then he goes into enthusiasm. This is where I would find my "Yes!" I would imagine. This is a wholehearted stepping in to the moment and completely showing up. Sounds amazing. I love when I can find that place in my life.
For now, I'm working my "Yes." and occasionally finding the "Yes!" in the oddest places. I'm discovering those places are where my authentic self lives; moments of the smallest, most mundane rituals mixed in with intense collaboration and powerful integration of wildly disparate concepts to create little areas of sense in the world. I suspect this is why my world seems to be quieter and calmer these days - not as much fighting and warring against what's here now.
How do you practice No. Yes. and Yes! in your life?