Yes and no are two such small words, it’s hard to believe the impact they have on your life. 

One vital aspect is the importance of having it respected when you say “No!”.

It’s taken time for it to become more honoured that “No means No.”  Even now, it can be a struggle.  Of course, there’s the highly emotive example of rape.  But what of going out for the evening with friends, and someone says, “One for the road?”  Or a friend has a birthday, and everyone is offered cake.  How easily do they take “No.” for an answer?  Are there any efforts to cajole you into saying “Yes”?

I read a cartoon recently that highlighted the need to teach this respect of someone’s right to say “No” from an early age.  Even my toddler deserves the right to decide whether he wants a kiss from mummy (though if he has clambered into my lap and stuck his hand down my top, I may not ask permission to kiss him).  Still, when I come home and ask “Can I have a kiss?”, if he says no I don’t give him one.  Respecting his right to say No teaches him that it’s a word of power.

Sometimes, though, I think we forget the power of Yes.

Try this little experiment.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes, keep breathing slowly and deeply, and notice what is going on inside you right now.  Hopefully, if you’re not feeling particularly emotional, you will now have a sense of your “neutral”.

Next, keep breathing deeply, close your eyes, and start saying “No” out loud or in your mind.  Do this for at least 30 seconds, and allow yourself to just notice any thoughts, feelings or sensations that arise.  Where do you notice them in your body?

Finally, still breathing deeply, close your eyes again and start saying “Yes” out loud or in your mind.  Once more, stay with this for at least 30 seconds, observing what happens inside you.

Most people will have noticed a difference.  I certainly did when I tried this experiment.

When I said No, I started to feel angry and resentful!

When I said Yes, a smile came to my face 🙂

If you didn’t notice anything, you might want to ask yourself in what way you suppress your emotions, or are disconnected from your body…

Saying yes to life can help you feel more joyful, and positively impact your physical well-being, too.  Positive emotions drop your stress levels, drop your cortisol levels, and help you in a myriad of real, measurable ways.  It can help you sleep better, digest better, even improve your hair 😉

For myself, this experiment made me think about how often in the day I say no.  Seems to be rather a lot at the moment, with a toddler who delights in rubbing sticky fingers through my hair, running around naked, throwing himself on the floor for no apparent reason, and tipping his food on the floor for the fun of it 😮

Still, it also made me aware of how that makes me feel, and how it makes my toddler feel.  So, I have been consciously trying to change those No’s.  For instance, I try to say “Yes, I can see how much fun it is to experiment with textures, and I love that you’re a little scientist.  Can you try pouring the puree in a different bowl and seeing how much will fit in it?”

I don’t always manage it, but it feels good when I do!

It reminds me of an old family friend.  This is a lady in her eighties now.  She got divorced when that was still a big thing, fifty years ago or more.  After that, she made it her policy to never say no to a social invitation.  Did she meet lots of interesting people and have lots of adventures.  Certainly!  Did she end up going to some dire parties?  Maybe.  With that mindset, though, I bet she always managed to find something to feel joyful about 😀

So, this week, how about experimenting with the power of Yes?  I’d love to hear what you think, or what experiences you have…

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