Being a Yes No or Maybe in Life by Jim Holzknecht

Yes and no are a couple of the first words we learn as a child.  Maybe comes a little later when we begin to learn the finer art of negotiation and the payoff in keeping our options open.  Few of us give much thought to the connection these words have to the person we are being in life. You know, the person who interacts daily with family, friends, co-workers, the cashier at the convenience store, and so on. Here’s a question.  Would you say overall, on average, you are consistently being a yes, no or maybe in life?

Think back over the past couple of weeks. When asked to do things, or when given an invitation to do something, how would you characterize your “automatic” response?  Do you consistently say Yes? If so, was the Yes intuitively authentic or did it come from a sense of obligation or stem from some fear of looking bad in the eyes of others (this is really a No in disguise). Do you find yourself consistently doing things that you don’t want to do in your life? When requests are made of you, if you answer “Yes” but every fiber of your being screams “NOOOOO,” then that is really a “No.”

Did you answer “no” to requests and invitations or more importantly were you “BEING” a NO every time an invitation was extended to you or each time a new opportunity presented itself?  How would you characterize your “automatic” way of being?  Are you open and receptive and eager to learn new things, or are you closed off  (know everything already), resigned, cynical and fearful of new experiences and new people?

Here’s a test, when you say “NO” to requests, is it based in fear?  Are you resistant to try new things or to experience new situations because you are worried about making a mistake or about being judged by others?  Do you say “NO” when your intuition tells you “YES?”  If so, then you are being a NO to life. Being a NO to life is a path to foreclosed dreams, stillborn goals, and to living a quietly desperate, comfortably numb life.

Being a NO in life may show itself as that insidious inner voice which preemptively shoots down ideas as fast as you generate them, or it may be that fearful, sinking feeling which keeps you from pursuing a goal or passion. It’s the bully inner critic lurking in those behaviors or actions which can sabotage an idea, hope, wish or desire.

A good friend of mine was in the habit of saying “no” anytime anyone asked or invited him to do something.  He wanted to be in a loving, committed relationship but it wasn’t happening for him.  As an exercise, a personal coach invited him to say “YES” for one week no matter what the request (it had to be a legal activity of course).  He decided to take the coaching.  For one week he automatically said “yes” to all requests made of him instead of being an automatic “NO.” Similar to the changes that Jim Carey’s character went through in the movie “Yes Man,” he told me that this was one of the most transformational weeks of his life. He ended up taking a seminar which, if not for the commitment to say “yes” he would not have participated in. It was in that seminar where he met his wife. Being a “yes” opens doors and opportunities which do not present themselves when being a “no.”

Being a “maybe” in life is the purgatory of indecisive action. It might stem from a fear of making a mistake or some other subconscious resistance.  “Maybe” is the incessant brake applied to our lives which keeps us small and prevents us from pursuing our passions. It might show up as that sinking feeling of being stuck or a smoldering frustration of not being in action in some areas of our lives which are important to us.  I strongly recommend removing maybe from your vocabulary.

Check in with yourself and look at those areas of your life where you are being a “no” or a “maybe” or inauthentic “yes” (a “no” in disguise). Check in with your intuition. Is there some area of your life where you are being a “no” or “maybe” but you really would like to be a “yes?” If so, I invite you to try saying “yes” to any and all legal requests and invitations and activities for one week. See what opens up for you.

Keep a journal and note any feelings of resistance or fears when being a “yes.” Just observe and note them.  Chances are the feelings of resistance will diminish as you take some action in the face of a fear or resistant thought. Remember, “just be a yes!” Have fun with the exercise and see where it takes you.

Jim Holzknecht and Becky Hays produced the inspirational film Beyond Belief, featuring over 20 of the world’s leading experts in personal transformation.