I have been a staunch advocate of living by the improv philosophy of saying YES. It has changed my way in the world, defined my workplace, strengthened my relationships and created a space for the enormous and powerful energy of creative exchange to take place. It has helped me listen, encourage, build bridges, go with the flow, see others, be in the present and, most importantly, counter the instant negativity of a default no. It has also been hard work for someone as totally opinionated and judgmental as I am. Saying yes against every fibre of instinct to say no when people seem stupid, lazy, defensive and opportunistic and arrogant (civil servants and bank people are a good example) is a challenge; I cannot lie. Saying yes is an attitude of ‘can do’. It is solution driven. It makes whoever you are saying yes to part of the team. And it is full of positive power.
Now here is an interesting notion. I have been reflecting on 2014 and why it has been such a wonderful, successful (in my own terms), and satisfying year for me, and the answer is that I learned to say NO. Isn’t that ironic? Here are some of the things I said no to. I said no to work with a boss that I had been saying yes to for too long, which made me frustrated, angry and miserable. I said no to taking on stuff because there was nobody else to do it, and this meant letting go of a particular kind of resentment that resulted in feelings of liberation. I have said no to people who tried to get me to change my vision about a certain thing when I felt like I would be compromised. I said no when every last desire-to-please feeling, and desire-not-to-hurt impulse made me want to say yes in a particular situation, and even though there was drama, it was worked through and we arrived at some wonderful clarity. And I also learned to say no to myself, learning the willpower of healthy eating, amongst other bad habits.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still your default-to-YES girl. I have just discovered the personal boundary of NO. And I am loving the balance.