I’m not talking about consent here. When it comes to consent, no means no. Period. What I am talking about here is turning an internal no into a yes. Taking the no we say to experiences and emotions and turning that into a yes, saying yes to feeling and experiencing all the things we are afraid of feeling and experiencing: pain, grief, anger, sadness, jealousy, etc. Because when we say no to those feelings, we are putting ourselves in a holding pattern. We can’t move forward. We start holding the feelings in our bodies, often without even realizing that’s what’s happening.
I just read this meditation about turning no into yes in the book Radical Acceptance. In it she suggests conjuring a particularly painful feeling or emotion, first saying no, then noting how that feels in the body. Then conjuring the same memory but saying yes instead. I did the meditation and when I said yes, tears started to fall immediately. It was cathartic. I don’t know why I was surprised by this when I read Perfectly Imperfect the same was proposed in yoga and putting it into practice has never failed me.
So, I decided to do an experiment while I was getting tattooed yesterday.
If you can’t tell this is the inside of my arm. The top, where it is all meaty and tender. I kept hearing, “that part is going to really hurt.” And, you know what, it did. But instead of my usual method of tensing my body and gritting my teeth, I said yes to the pain. I consciously relaxed my jaw, relaxed my muscles, took deep breaths in and out. It didn’t do much to make things hurt less but when I was finished I didn’t feel completely wiped out, like I’d been hit by a train… which is how I usually feel after about 4 hours of tattooing.
I think it’s the same way with emotional pain.
The pain is still there; we still feel. It still hurts. But instead of running from the hurt, pushing it away, not making space for it, we just let it be. And, yeah, some of that pain is going to be pain that is so strong we can’t say that yes alone. That’s okay. But we can start with the smaller stuff, increase our tolerance. I really believe in the power of yes. I think by just letting the emotions be without fighting them, we protect our bodies, we protect ourselves, we don’t store up that pain, we don’t use it to lash out (guilty).
So, what do you say, will you try saying a ‘yes’ today? If you find yourself scared or sad or hurting in some way will you make space for those feelings? If you do, I’d love to hear your stories. If you’re not ready, we can comment/talk about that, too. If you’re skeptical, tell me about it. I want to hear what’s in your marvelous brain.