The Power of No, the Power of Yes

“Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.” – Anthony de Mello

In the past six months or so, I’ve learned a lot about the power of No, and the power of Yes. But you may be surprised that this is less about duality, and more about accepting imperfection.

Let’s start with No.

“No” is what happens when you finally realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. It’s when you say, “No I’m sorry I cannot take on the responsibility for X, because I am already busy with A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V and W.”

“No” is choosing priorities and not feeling bad about it. It is looking at your calendar and realizing you absolutely need to get your car in to the shop ASAP, but the only day free on your schedule is two and a half weeks away, so you are going to have to say to someone “Sorry, that thing I said I could do? I can’t do it after all.”

“No” is admitting you are terrible at something and then refusing to do it because it would be a waste of everyone’s time to pretend otherwise. It’s admitting that even though you sincerely wish you were flexible enough and smart enough to take on a completely new skill you’ve never had before, like marketing and schmoozing, it’s absolute bullshit to think you could even do a passable job at it because the fucks you don’t give could fill an ocean.

“No” is telling your health care professionals you are tired of seeing them because you are. You may like them personally and enjoy their company, but if you’ve been seeing them for months or a year and they still haven’t fixed what ails you, it’s time to part company and try a new approach.

“No” is saying you are going to express how you feel even if someone else doesn’t like it. It’s running away from bad energy people as if they had a contagious illness.

I have found that if I don’t say No sometimes, my body says it for me, by getting sick or having pains or something.

Now let’s look at Yes.

“Yes” is about accepting what’s coming with open arms, even if it’s something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. It’s coping with illness, tragedy, car trouble, a cancelled flight, a broken bone and a toilet that won’t flush.

“Yes” knows that you burned dinner and doesn’t mind.

“Yes” happens when you get lost while driving and then decide to do something else besides what you had planned.

“Yes” is when four different landscapers fail to return your calls but then you find a great one who does.

“Yes” is running out of curry powder and using a creative blend of spices instead. If it comes out better than usual, then great, if not, you now have an excuse to heat up that freezer burrito you would have rather had anyway.

You take whatever comes and say, “Yes. I see you and I will deal with you and I will not let you break me.” It’s knowing that whatever happens happens for a reason that you may not fully understand what’s what because you don’t have perfect clairvoyance, and that’s okay.

How about you? What have you said “Yes” and “No” to lately? Or, how have you embraced the imperfections in your life?


First I said “Yes I will let this plant grow in my yard.” Then I said, “No this plant has tiny, silly flowers and fluffy, annoying seeds. Out it comes.”

2 thoughts on “The Power of No, the Power of Yes

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