At a yoga class a few months ago, the instructor started our session by reading a passage from a book. I don’t remember the name of the book and so the best I can do is paraphrase the passage. But it went something like this: The three most important words are: no, yes, and wow. Your use of these words, the author advised, should match their placement on this list. Use ‘no’ because it gives you control and helps you maintain a grip on your world. But use it sparingly. Use ‘yes’ more often. ‘Yes’ opens your world up to possibilities and opportunities. It opens you up to love and beauty and memories. Use ‘wow’ most of all. The world is full of things to ‘wow’ over.
I used to say ‘Yes,’ all the time. New opportunities at work, volunteer activities all over the world, classes and courses and programs and friends and parties and, well, everything. I couldn’t turn anything down. I loved opening up my world to new possibilities.
But, as Megan described in week 4 of her Beyond Baby program, ‘No’ became my close friend soon after my girl was born. I’d say ‘yes’ to things that had to do with her, but ‘no’ to most other things. I felt protective of my time. And, more importantly, I didn’t feel as if I had the time to even evaluate a situation. It was easier to just say ‘no.’
In the past year, since my son was born, I’ve said a lot of ‘no.’ We’ve declined birthday party invite after birthday party invite on behalf of my girl. We’ve said ‘no’ to a number of preschool events. We’ve turned down opportunities to see family and friends. I’ve said ‘no’ at work. We’ve said ‘no’ in advance and at the last minute.
We’ve said ‘no’ by default. By not responding. By not being around. When you don’t put yourself out there or in the right space to be asked, you don’t actually have to say it at all. But it’s still a ‘no.’
The assignment for week 4 of Beyond Baby was to say ‘yes’ to something. Anything. As long as it is something you want to do. She recommended starting small. See where it takes you.
In the past couple of months, I’ve said a lot more ‘yes.’ We have a birthday party to attend every weekend from now until Thanksgiving (and we have since Fall began). Last weekend, we appeared at 3 Halloween parties in one day. I’m leading the preschool community outreach committee and just managed a diaper drive. I’m writing for the preschool blog.
And I’m not just saying ‘yes’ out there. I’m also saying ‘yes’ in here. I’m saying ‘yes’ to my own big dreams and making commitments to chase them, pin them down, and live them. I’m saying ‘yes’ to my family. To my children.
I didn’t start small, as was recommended. And sometimes, a lot of the time, I’m feeling overwhelmed.
But I did heed once piece of Megan’s advice. I’m saying ‘yes’ to the things that I want to do. And I’m still saying ‘no’ to the things I don’t want to do. We’re not attending every birthday party on our evite list, just the ones for friends whose names are part of our daily life. I’m not volunteering for everything at school, just the things that fit with who I am, what I want to be doing, what I want my girl to see me doing, and what plays to my strengths. I’m not saying ‘yes’ to every dream, just the ones that feel most important to me now to get started. And, of course, not every request by my children gets a ‘yes’ but when I say ‘no,’ these days, I know why.
I’m taking the time again to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things.
And that is making all the difference.
Do you say a lot of ‘no?’ What have you said ‘yes’ to recently?