Obviously, the opposite of yes is no. Or more accurately, yes and no are collaborators: One does not happen without the other.
The spiritual practice of Yes is really a practice about boundaries, about knowing yourself and respecting that knowing.
Respecting that knowing.
That is where I get in trouble.
I do not respect this Self that I have worked so hard to know.
This past week, I was reading some John Bradshaw, one of those writers whom I had, with NO knowledge of his writing whatsoever (because this is what I can be like), written off as woo woo or self-help-lite.
I could not have been more wrong, and though I have issues with his work's reliance on TALKING and WORDS (and this is always my issue with current psychological practices like CBT, etc.)...though I have issues with his "solutions," he still has some important stuff to say, some important Truths to contribute to this (mostly silent) conversation about the effects of child abuse and early-life trauma.
For some reason, it is still somewhat revolutionary to admit, for example, that these early experiences affect who we are today.
I personally (IRL) know too many women who have been in therapy long term, for example, who have never discussed their early experiences with their therapists because...wait for it...the therapist has never asked. (Don't get me started...)
To get back to my own recent realization: While reading the John Bradshaw, I came upon a list of "typical current behaviors," resulting from certain types of experiences at certain ages.
I know most of this; I am very aware at this point in my life of how I react and why and where it all stems from. I have a decent level of "witness consciousness" about myself.
There is always more, isn't there?
On this list, one thing in particular stood out: He wrote about saying "yes" to requests when we really don't want to and then finding ways to back out at the last minute and THEN, of course, beating ourselves up for it.
I do this. And why?
When we are raised in environments that feel, in any way, threatening, we learn to have fluid boundaries. We learn we must.
We have very little sense of a solid self.
And of course, we are not allowed to say NO. We are not allowed to make up our own minds, even when it comes to very simple things.
Our sense of self, our definition of who we are, our ideas about what we like or don't like, our preferences, our goals, our very dreams...it all gets given to us or comes from outside of us or is an attempt to please others but never ourselves.
This year, I had decided that my exploration of yes would include allowing myself to be seen in a bigger way. This is still a goal and it's important to me to stretch my wings in this way.
But now, I am clearer than ever that my exploration of yes is equally an exploration of NO, and I am, from this moment forward, going to explore the power of that even smaller word. No more permeable, fluid boundaries. No more diaphanous self.