The glory of yes: Kate Beahan takes a leap and accepts every invitation.
I’m proficient with the word no. I have been practising for about two decades.
As a person who used to be frightened to disappoint and as an artist surrounded by emotionally sensitive types (I, too, am one of these), I learned I needed to say no a long time ago. And the more I did, the more empowered I felt, the less I punished myself and the more energy and sincere generosity I had towards myself and others.
So, I have enjoyed no, but realise a consequence of this has been that it feeds into my introversion. I know I wouldn’t thrive without a decent amount of human contact, but I’m the one who is relieved when plans are cancelled. I am calm when alone with a book, or exercising solo, or whiling away a Sunday on my own at home.
Recently, I have been called out on my propensity to stay in and decline social activities; on the amount of times I say no – and I felt that it may be time to consider more ‘yeses’ in my life. The test for me was to say yes to things that scare, challenge or place me outside of my comfort zone, while still keeping my healthy boundaries intact.
Having said yes to parties, gatherings, dinners, participating in play readings, attending book signings, I found that saying yes saved me time. This was a surprise. I’m usually so absorbed with composing my list of why I can’t do something, that I barely hear the end of an invitation.
In my month of yes I am breathing when asked to do things, then nodding and saying, ‘I’d love to!’. I feel insane for the first week. I hardly know myself. I attend everything, stay as long as I’m having fun, then leave. Then, for the first time since my teens, I find myself champing at the bit for invitations.
And something else happened. A kind of magical mirror appeared before me in the form of friends’ faces when opening their front doors. A month of yes presented expressions of genuine astonishment as I’d arrive at whatever event, dinner or screening; ‘Wow, Kate – you have just lost me a bet. Do come in!’
New opportunities started to present themselves, too. First, an invitation to a creative writing class I’ve wanted to take and have been avoiding. An email arrives in my inbox. I say yes and enrol.
I am also asked to teach several Pilates classes so, swiping aside my intense fear of public speaking, I say yes and have to do eight classes in one month. During the first, I’m bright red on the inside but, by class eight, I feel I am vaguely acceptable and a huge fear of mine has been addressed.
Lastly, a blind date is pitched to me and I say yes. I enjoy myself. I share a delicious meal with a total stranger. I learn things. Marriage plans will not be made but, most importantly, I do not die.
To be continued…
I know I am not leaping into a new yes life à la Jim Carrey, but I am easing into yes and I’m amazed to find that I really do feel less shackled. I want to live this gorgeous full life. Not breaking the healthy boundaries, but the tiny and not so tiny roadblocks I’ve installed to protect myself.
Kate Beahan is an actress and Pilates instructor
Coach yourself: Yes or No?
Consider these points and find your best answer.
Boundaries help us to choose what we allow to happen in our lives and to create what we want in our lives. Do you need to defend your boundaries by saying no more often; or do you need to expand them by saying yes to new opportunities? Try answering these coaching questions in your journal:
- If you had to write a code of conduct for the people you allow to enter your life, what five rules would you create?
- What would be the deal-breakers?
- When someone in your circle challenges a boundary that you have put in place, what would your normal reaction be?
- Make a list of the people and activities in your life that give you energy; and those that drain your energy and feel like a burden. What boundaries do you need to put in place to spend more time on the first, more uplifting, list?