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The Power of your Yes

February 2013

It seems that saying Yes is much easier to say (and hear) than No.  In fact, my Yes can be automatic.  Often, my internal answer to the original question comes sometime after I have already said yes.

In Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication teaching, everything we say or do is to meet a need.  To follow this teaching, what needs might someone be trying to meet by quickly saying Yes before actually considering the question?  Possibly the person might feel hesitant (“put on the spot”) and wants to have a sense of ease.  Other desires (needs) for belonging and acceptance might be underneath as well.  All of these needs are excellent motivations for quickly saying yes.  In fact, I really enjoy ease, belonging and acceptance. Although, saying Yes when not fully meaning Yes will probably not provide lasting ease, belonging or acceptance.

At the same time, becoming aware of these underlying needs does lead to the realization that the strategy of saying Yes so quickly probably will not actually provide the desired outcome.

For me the next step is to take a moment and think through a situation.  Our imagination can support us in this process.  I like to practice using imagination, and have found it to be very effective.  The mind will produce many of the same responses as if we were actually in the conversation. This practice enables us to enhance our capacity for the next similar situation.

For me, I begin by taking a few breaths and open myself to remembering a situation if one isn’t already on my mind.  I quickly remember a situation when someone asked a question when I quickly said yes.  I remember there were many people around and my focus was on something else.  I take another breath, and continue to replay the situation in my mind.  I remember in that moment I did say Yes.  I also remember that there was something else I was feeling, hesitation.  I can remember others that were there, and had paused after she asked the question. Now, I am imagining what they must have been thinking.   In my mind it sounds like, “How could she say no to her?”  Many thoughts begin swirling after that thought, then feelings, back to thoughts.

As I breathe past the thoughts that “I won’t belong” or that “I will lose acceptance if I don’t say Yes,” I notice that my breath catches.  I feel fear and I have the urge to move out of my seat.  No wonder I quickly said yes ~ I don’t want to feel this way.  I breathe again.  I then start to consider what I want in the situation.

More time could be spent on considering this situation, and what a great start.  This was a mini-role play with myself.  Role-plays can be very powerful and feel very real.  My heart was racing, I was imaging what people were thinking, and then my emotions reacted and so on.  Our minds can respond as if everything is happening in the current moment.   Quickly I was in touch with my desire for ease, as well as belonging and acceptance.  This all happened in a matter of moments while I sat by myself.

We can re-create an experience while we are alone or with a friend, which allows us to slow the experience down and notice our internal experience.  In our moment-to-moment lives, especially when we are interacting with others, we might be experiencing several (or many) different incoming messages and stimuli.  What might appear to be a simple situation could actually be quite complex.

The reason I like to practice is that when I find myself in a similar situation again, I have more of a sense of the Watcher” or the “Mediator of my experience.  I may notice thoughts such as “Oh, this is it, what I practiced for.  I have the urge to just say Yes, but I am going to pause.” Or  “Wow, this feels really uncomfortable, I am going to take a breath.  What do I want in this situation?”   Once we start making choices, we start empowering ourselves.

The only way through to a comfortable place is straight through to the other side.  I can dodge it, try to ignore it and sooner or later I will find myself back to the same spot, maybe different faces, different day and similar or almost same event.

A few points to remember:

  1. Breath ~ enjoy a deep breath into your body.  The breath helps us slow the moment down, helps us nourish ourselves with life, and instantly connects  us to the current moment.
  2. Present ~ to your desire.  What do you want, desire?  Where do you hear a Yes?  Are you hearing a No within? Is there a Yes and?  Explore the and…. What are you feeling?  Ease, Scared, Curiosity
  3. Continue the conversation speaking from and in your experience.  I am often surprised how effective for everyone it can be for me to say that I feel tense or scared even in a professional setting and then say what I desire.
  4. Making specific, positive requests for what you want, versus what you don’t want.  It is too easy to say what you don’t want.  Stretch yourself ~ and ask specifically for what you want.
  5. Listen to others ~ for what it sounds like is important to them and ask them if you are hearing them the way they want to be understood.  Often we can get triggered on a point someone said, and then we miss what was important that they wanted us to hear.  People really want us to hear them.
  6. Make agreements about how both of you are willing to move forward.  This might change and you can make amended agreements if need be.

I challenge you: before you answer so quickly the next time, take a breath and pause to ask yourself “what is my desire?” in this moment (in this situation) and wait for your internal answer.

Articles to follow will discuss the power of connecting to your N0.

Until next time

Blessings, Love and Peace Matters

Lori Woodley



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