A bomb went off in my life recently; all because of one word: No.
I’ve avoided saying No for most of my life. I was afraid that it would create conflict, make me look selfish, and I thought the right thing to do was to go along with what the other party wanted.
Obedience was big in my house and my church growing up. I assumed that obedience in real-time looked like saying ‘Yes’ to whatever authority wanted. And when authority wanted to ‘keep the peace’, then I towed the party line.
I became really disconnected from my ‘Yes’, to what brought joy to my life. I was cut-off from the part of me that knows what I’m feeling, needing, wanting, desiring. I tried filling that void with food, feeling back in control that I had a say about something in my life. I could restrict or consume at my will, exerting both a Yes to a temporary craving, and a No to my voice being quieted.
I had no idea at the time that my chaotic eating was so intricately linked with people-pleasing. In fact, I don’t think I knew what people-pleasing was! Yet a part of me intuitively knew that I had to start making different choices. I had to start saying No to what was perpetuating my dependency on food and exercise, and start saying Yes to what I actually wanted.
Not that I had a list or a clear picture of what I was after; it was a process of recognizing the nudges. Say No to the gym, and Yes to volunteering, No to going for a run and Yes to playing soccer, No to the college reunion and Yes to a trip to Italy on my own.
While some choices were bigger than others; they all added up to ‘more me’.
For the past 5 years I’ve been telling this story, helping others make the ‘more me’ choices; what I call embodying your true you.
As you might expect, life keeps inviting more of me to the table, and the Yeses and the Noes are coming with higher stakes.
No to running Your True You Journey, the group coaching program I developed, Yes to teaching someone else’s creation, Embody. Yes a 40 day trip to the US, No to staying in the UK with my husband. No to social media, Yes to keeping my head clutter- and comparison-free.
While it’s unlikely I would have made those choices even just a few years ago, by the time they presented themselves, I was ready. I had enough of me to make the choice that felt like me.
I was pretty pleased with myself. “I’m getting the hang of this.”, I thought. “I can trust this Embody and True You stuff. ‘No’ isn’t so bad. I like where this road is taking me, and I haven’t ruffled any feathers yet. I don’t know what I was so worried about.”
And then the bomb went off.
I am finally embodying a deeper No that I avoided because I was afraid it would make waves. Guess what, the waves are rolling, and in case nobody ever tells you this, sometimes your No feels like shit.
The part of me that loves and cares for the other party doesn’t want to hurt them with my No. The part of me that loves and cares for me doesn’t want to hurt me with a Yes. The tension between the two feels like a tearing of my heart.
It feels like grief. The loss of a relationship pattern that felt secure and a sadness for where all of my un-embodied Yeses of the past have taken me.
In the past, I did my best to avoid these emotions, and when they came, I tried to eat my way to a place of comfort.
This is why we dance. To feel the full range of emotions in your body in the safety of the dance floor, so that when you bump into them in life, you have a greater capacity to face what’s uncomfortable without resisting, avoiding, or superficially comforting it.
We also dance to remember it’s OK to allow pleasure, joy, and ecstacy into our lives so that when we hit a situation that isn’t bringing any of it, we don’t tolerate the pain of disconnection for as long as we used to.
This time I didn’t try to control the situation, or avoid the shit storm of emotions after. I stayed with it all, just like we do when the music gets chaotic and messy at EMBODY.
And so the No felt familiar. A remembrance of a part of me that is strong enough to ride the waves, doesn’t have to fear them, and can trust that the waters will settle at the point that serves the highest good.
This part of me has always been there, and it’s in you too, even if it feels like it’s been sitting in a box covered with lots of dust.
At EMBODY we call this our Warrior Queen. She brings the courage to see the No through, even though it’s messy. The No that also means Yes to yet another part of you. A choice to put a piece of you back into the picture, instead of letting others fill that hole. That part feels like coming home.
Because it takes one to know one, I look at relationship dynamics within business, romantic partners, family units, and in how societies relate to its leaders, and see disembodied Yeses and Noes all around; the tell-tale signs are passive-aggressive, shame and blame.
An embodied No does not just mean alignment with what you do and don’t agree with, it comes in a really grounded package; like a rock in a river bed that influences the direction of the current just by its presence. It is the water that is torrential and destructive, not the rock.
I would love to see a world where both our Yes and our No are like that rock in the river. Firm, non-negotiable, and without damaging the force coming against it.
- Honoring a brother or sister’s No without making their No about rejection; which means not projecting your guilt, shame, or fear.
- Expressing a No without making others feel small. Which means acceptance of differences and ensuring it is is not a self-righteous No.
- Saying Yes only when it is aligned with your values and who you are at your core.
- Sharing your Yes with detachment; not needing others to validate it, subscribe to it, or adopt it for themselves.
An embodied Yes and an embodied No are both expressions of Love. Neither is more or less obedient, good, or right, than the other when they reflect the true nature of you.
When you are embodying your true you, you are embodying Love. And in case no one ever told you this either, Love doesn’t always feel good.
Can you trust that it always wins?
If you are facing a challenging situation, I’d love to help you embody your Yes and No through a process of:
- Recognizing old people-pleasing patterns
- Allowing for your joy, pleasures, and desires
- Connecting to your Yes and No in your body
There are two ways we can work together. Book a complimentary exploratory call to see if either are right for you.