We have been raised to fear the yes in ourselves. -Audre Lorde
Which inner response rises up most quickly and more naturally for you: "Yes", "No", "I don't care", or "I don't know"? I think many of us lean more towards one of these in our initial reactivity to questions or requests. Of course, there is wisdom in each of them, and a time when each reflects our truth. But I do think we have tendencies. Most of my early adulthood I tended to be in the "yes" club, enthusiastic and excited to jump into all kinds of things. In the last couple of decades or so I've been embracing the wisdom of "no" that is about setting healthy boundaries, resisting oppression or exploitation, protection of self and loved ones, discernment in decision-making, and more.
However, I have also noticed this "reactive no" that I think Audre Lorde is inviting us to explore. The reactive no reflects a response to life that makes us smaller, suppresses our voice and needs, that separates us from others, that keeps us in a prison of suspiciousness. This reactive "no" comes from the fear of saying YES TO OURSELVES AND YES TO LIFE. This does not mean we should do a 180 and say a "reactive yes" to everything asked of us or every opportunity presented. I think that it is an invitation for us to notice if/when we are responding from that reactive no place, and then examine where any resistance to our authentic "yes" may be coming from. In what ways have we been socialized to play small? In what ways have we internalized dominant narratives about what we can't or shouldn't do, or who we can't or shouldn't be?
I encourage you to reflect on any fears you have about saying "yes" to your truth, "yes" to actualizing your highest potential, "yes" to living life fully. Saying yes to yourself is about giving yourself permission to flourish, express your gifts, and rise up into your greatness and your joy. Saying yes to life is about how you engage with the world, with other people, with nature, with Spirit, with daily activities in ways that honor, enhance, and celebrate all of the aspects of life. Saying yes is ultimately about participating in the transformation and liberation of ourselves and the world.
How will YOU say yes?
With Peace, Love, and Soulfulness,
Dr. Shelly Harrell