by Kate Bussell
I love saying “yes”. Yes! I can take on that project for you and have it done by next week. Yes! I’ll take you dogs for an awesome long walk today. Yes! I’d love to help.
“YES” is full of hope and excitement. It’s a spark that can help a friend, a colleague, or even my dogs (who, although they don’t speak English, appear to understand the vibration of YES!). “Yes” holds the possibility of adventure, as well as comfort: sometimes I say yes because it makes me feel like a good person and frees me from experiencing guilt should I say the opposite—”no”.
But what happens when we’re constantly saying yes to everyone and everything, even when those “yes’s” contribute to someone else’s improvement or benefit, or more complicated yet…even our own?
About 7 years ago, I was saying “yes” so much I started burning out.
At my job and at home I was giving 110%, diving into everything with gusto and passion that by the week’s end, my tank was empty. Instead of making time for rest, I threw myself into a day-long projects of cooking, crafting, gardening or going out with friends, constantly occupying my mind and body and disallowing any opportunity for REAL rest.
All that “yes’ing” cost my health in the form of chronic sinus infections and broken sleep, AND affected my wellbeing in a much larger way: Because I was saying yes to everyone and everything I became resentful. It wasn’t pretty. My exhaustion and lack of fulfillment came out sideways, affecting my relationships, scattering blame recklessly on people who didn’t deserve it.
Lately, I’ve found that saying “No” is hugely empowering, albeit challenging!
When we say yes to one thing, we ultimately say no to another, and vice-versa. If I’m a yes for growing as a yoga teacher and graphic designer, I may need to say no to things that don’t support my growth. Even if those things seem really, really fun!
The Yes & No Journaling Exercise
What are you the biggest YES for right now?
Want to be a great mother, advance your career, work towards a degree? Great! Write it down. Limit yourself to just one or two things (this may be the most challenging part).
Track your other Yes’s:
Yes comes in many forms: uttered from our mouths, or where we invest our precious time. Notice where you’re allocating your energy and see if it lines up with your BIG YES!
WHY are you saying yes to things that don’t support your BIG yes?
Are you doing so from a place of guilt, a need to please, or to have people like you? Or are you sincere in your intention? Write it down.
Identify where you can start saying No, and practice!
Getting clear about where to say yes and no can lead to confidence in your decision making, clearing the path to your bigger yes. Whether its in your yoga practice, career or relationships, you have the power to generate a dialogue with yourself which may not have existed before.
Practicing saying “no” to things which clutter your path to “yes” takes decision-making to a whole new level, putting you into the drivers seat of your life, seeing each minute of life as energy like a currency, helping you make better choices where to spend it next, feeding your BIGGER YES!
When she’s not teaching yoga or making pretty designs, you can find her in the kitchen cooking or baking, snuggling with her dogs on the couch, or reading the latest sci-fi or fantasy novel.