How to Say “Yes”

Just say No! That’s what we’re taught. We need boundaries, constraints, limits, etc. And the all important, say “no” to bad things like drugs and anything illegal.

We’re not really taught how to say yes because social decorum sometimes dictates that we should say “No” when we mean “Yes” or that a “Maybe” is a “No”. It gets confusing and I want to clear up one big distinction about Yes and No.

When somebody says No to me, I take their No at a face value, no matter what society has taught me. I take the “No” as a “No”

It’s important to make the distinction between how we interpret someone’s Yes and No and how we communicate our Yes and No. Our responsibility does not include extracting any other sort of meaning from someone else’s Yes, No or Maybe. A “no” is a “no” and a “yes” is a “yes”.

Someone else’s No is a No; a Yes, a Yes; and a Maybe, a Maybe. Our only responsibility then becomes to clarify the Yes and No in ourselves.

So how we clarify it when we’re not taught this? Well, let’s talk about how we say No. A lot of the times we are taught to say No to something. Like No to sugar or social media.

Saying “no” becomes outside of us. The sugar, social media all things we need to control and manage and all those exist outside of us. This can be misleading because what we’re saying “no” to is false and conflates the “yes” as well.

When we say No to social media what we need to remember is that social media is the external No and the internal Yes is what we need to make more clear. For me, social media serves as a distraction and even when I say No to it, I find other ways to distract myself from the task in front of me.

And then, what I’m saying Yes to is actually the distraction, whether that’s in the form of social media or something else. The No then becomes the task in front of me that needs to get done.

Whenever we don’t clarify the internal Yes in our decisions the No then becomes muddled in an attempt to control and manage external things in our lives. And trying to control things like sugar or social media can make what we’re trying to achieve frustrating.

Next time you want to say No to something see what the Yes is in that No and from there you can figure out your next course of action to what you say No and Yes to in our life.

I talk more about my battle with social media and saying No to it in podcast episode 15 How to Say “Yes”.

Change your script

Can you change your script? Absolutely! Well, we’re often advised to get to know our mind first but really how do we get to know it so we can create change in our lives?

It’s difficult to see how to go about it and then get momentum to keep going at it. When we are inundated with so much during the day, it’s hard to see what’s happening with our mind. The good news is that people’s minds are pretty similar.

And the better news is that I have an actual “how-to” for going about changing your script so you can change a habit in your life. I don’t do vague.

What’s a script? We operate from a script and are usually unaware of it. The script is our belief system in which we go about our daily life. It’s hard to become aware of many of our beliefs and all the “shoulds” we say to ourselves.

You can think of it like a script in a film where the script is the base of the story and the actors often don’t act the script word for word but use it to guide what they need to say or do. Our brains work like that and not knowing the actual script prevents us from clearing it.

If we’re not used to knowing what’s happening in our head then the task to understand it and quiet it or even direct it (to change it) becomes next to impossible. Sometimes, space can be created in some of our mundane, familiar ways of doing things.

Start small. And a place to start is with your everyday conversations with the people in your life. It’s small enough as well as having ample opportunity to create the space. Often, in the small moments of interactions, when we can create space, it can reveal the biggest insight.

Pick a person that slightly irritates you – a co-worker, sibling, etc. Think about the familiarity in your conversations. A co-worker of mine used to ask what I did on the my weekend without fail every Monday morning. I’m not a morning person so this was especially irritating.

Since I could plan on the familiarity of the situation every Monday, I said I was going to pause before I answered her question. Now, it may seem difficult at first because we can be on automatic pilot. If that’s the case, there’s another option.

Use social media posts. It may seem like the last place to create space but social media is not all negative. When a friend posts something you don’t like, read the whole post and don’t react to it. Don’t write a comment, etc. Sit there for one minute and look at the post.

In our everyday, mundane interactions we find ourselves in sort of an automatic, default setting of reaction. And because of it’s familiarity we can plan a bit ahead to see where we can pause.

Pause is what helps to create space in the head. And if you can achieve that pause in something you do habitually, you’ll often gain insight into your script.

Write it down. When you first pause it may seem like nothing comes to your head. It’s in there, you need to keep at it and eventually you’ll hear your mind and what its saying to you.

When you have the moment of pause, see what thought enters your head and then write it down in the same notebook (or notes on your smartphone). Keep tackling the same habitual situation and write every thought you “hear” in your mind in the same notebook.

Find the script. You’ll slowly begin to see what’s in your mind. You’ll see patterns. You’ll see your script. You may be shocked to see that you’re negative about a friend on social media or that you don’t want to reveal that you did nothing during the weekend to your co-worker (that was me!).

We live with scripts like “I shouldn’t reveal that I wasn’t productive over the weekend.” or that “I should always have positive thoughts about my friends.” The truth is whether we know our scripts or not, we’re running with them in our head. So knowing them gives us that control in changing them and eventually our habits.

I discuss this journey in changing your script in podcast episode 8: Before you change your script.