Friday, November 18, 2011

Yeses and Nos

"Yes without No is appeasement, whereas No without Yes is war. Yes without No destroys one’s own satisfaction, whereas No without Yes destroys one’s relationship with others. We need both Yes and No together.  For Yes is the key word of community, No the key word of individuality. Yes is the key word of connection, No the key word of protection. Yes is the key word of peace, No the key word of justice. The great art is to learn to integrate the two—to marry Yes and No. That is the secret to standing up for yourself and what you need without destroying valuable agreements and precious relationships.” --Willam Ury, from "The Power of a Positive No" by Ian Lawton

I got up this morning and went for a swim. At 5:45. AM! I haven't exercised at that time of the day since I was training to run a marathon.

The thing is, I meant to. I planned for it. I had my swim bag all packed, I was wearing my exercise clothes to sleep in, I had the $4.75 in exact change all ready to go...But I wasn't ever really sure I was going to do it until I actually did it. And even then I wasn't sure.

As I got up and got ready I was full of what they call in the self-help industry "negative self talk:" It's going to be cold outside....I'm going to have to scrape the windshield....It's probably going to be cold in the pool too....I'll bet my head will freeze...

But things just kept going my way - for some reason I didn't feel that cold this morning, the windshield wasn't that icy, and I was able to find my winter hat right away - and I actually went swimming!

And the thing is....It was AWESOME. I loved it. I had the best time and I felt great afterward. It brought back all sorts of memories of being on my high school swim team and how it felt to swim and swim and swim and just kind of lose yourself in the water.

As I drove home I realized how often I say NO to myself when I want to say YES. Or when I don't know what I want to say. If I am not sure about something, or haven't done something before, or am not sure what something will be like, I say NO. And then I think about it. And maybe I change the NO to a maybe, and eventually to a YES. But YES is never (well, rarely) my first response.

Which made me wonder? Why not? 

And I think it goes back to this quote. I grew up in a mid-western community where the right to say NO (to protect your individuality) was suspect and not affirmed as a natural human right. So I grew up saying YES a lot when I wanted to say NO. 

When I got to be an adult, I claimed my right to say NO, even when sometimes I wanted to say YES. My YESES and NOS are all sort of mixed up and confused and I am not even sure WHAT I want to say some of the time. YES? NO? YES/NO? MAYBE? 

It is something I am learning as I grow, something I am experimenting with right now as I both claim my right to say NO and allow myself to say YES. As I learn to marry YES and NO within myself.

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