When I was growing up, I often said yes even when I didn't mean it. I would casually go along with the crowd but felt completely alone. For most of my college years, there was a gnawing feeling that I didn't know how to curb. I was constantly seeking approval even when there was no need for it. I assumed all the yeses were like trophies. The more I collected, the better off I would be. Saying yes felt good. It made me far more approachable. It validated who I was to others.
It wasn't until I reached my early 30s that I began on a journey of saying no. Not loudly or boldly, but silently to myself. Doing so initially felt uncomfortable. Over time, I soon learned there was a subtle power which freed me from crippling obligations. It helped me focus my energy in a way that felt right. It taught me the greatest lesson of all - to ask: what do you really want?
During my coaching sessions with clients, this question invariably comes up. And it always amazes me that many don't know where to begin in answering it. After a few calls, there is often exuberance in clients telling me all their wants and needs. To a large degree, it feels like wishful thinking. And that's when I immediately shift the conversation and ask: so what don't you want? Often stumped, I get cookie cutter responses. But therein lies the magic. A yes is only as powerful as a no. They are both just opposite ends of the same result. Because the truth is, if you're only saying yes, there is hardly room for anything else. A no leaves space for the Universe to fill it. A decision born from choice, not from desperation.
Mushka Silberberg said it best in his 2019 penned essay:
"Chassidus [Hasidic philosophy] teaches that creation only occurred because of the restriction of the infinite, G-dly light. This implies that if there was no discipline, G-dliness would not have been able to create anything."
Every Monday morning at 10 AM EST I will post a powerful prompt which can also be synced to your smartphone calendar here and follow it wherever it leads. The aim is to resource all "three brains" — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.