In the realm of improvisational theatre, there is a well known and accepted mindset used by the players that involves saying “Yes, And…” in one’s interactions with others and with the situation at hand. This concept creates a willingness to accept whatever is presented and to build on it when able. “No” is not often used in improv as it creates a dead end in the scene.
In some ways, we are trained into a “No, but…” mindset through the messaging that comes in to our awareness on a daily basis. We live in a culture focused on scarcity and scarcity based messages spark shame, comparison, and separation. Advertising drives ideas of being not enough in some way and needing something outside of ourselves to feel/look/do/be better. Our culture has fixed ideas about what success should look like and we are trained into judging and comparing ourselves and our experiences to that ideal. In addition, we are also set up to believe that results should come quickly and easily in our lives and when they do not, we question ourselves.
Questioning ourselves leads to a tendency to resist what is happening in our lives, creating more contraction and inflammation in our minds and bodies. When things do not go our way or become challenging in our lives, our ego-driven mind can tell us that something has gone wrong. This creates resistance in the form of inflammation and, over time, that inflammation impacts our not only our mental health, but our physical health as well. We create patterns of blocking ourselves from possibilities as well as disempowering our ability to cope and to choose what we want to do next. The result is more suffering and stuckness and less joy and meaning.
This is a shift from resistance to acceptance. Resistance can show up in ways such as: denying or lying to ourselves rather than accepting the reality of a situation; wishing things were different, but doing nothing to change the outcome; thinking or believing something is wrong with us because our journey looks different than the journey of others; looking to solutions outside of ourselves to fill an inner void; ignoring the patterns we may be stuck in emotionally, professionally, socially, cognitively, or physically.
When this is how we navigate our lives, we can find ourselves feeling powerless, empty, and not good enough. We may feel like things in our lives are happening “to” us and that we have no choice in how our lives unfold.
If we can practice the ‘Yes, And’ mindset, we can lean into what is happening from a place of accepting what is and then empowering ourselves to choose our next move. ‘Yes, And’ can help us experience our lives with openness and possibility. ‘Yes, And’ can help us to recognize that when we accept what is already happening, we can lean into the choice we have in every moment of how to navigate it.
In a moment of stress and challenge, accepting what we are experiencing can orient us toward what we do want to feel and experience. “Yes, this is really hard, and I know that I can make it through.” “Yes, I messed up, and I can do things differently next time.” “Yes, I was passed over for the promotion, and I learned alot in the interview process.” “Yes, my feelings were hurt when she said that, and I know that it wasn’t really about me.” “Yes, I am struggling with the changes I am going through right now, and I know that once things aren’t so new, it will feel easier.” “Yes, my child did that differently than I would have, and I respect them for being themselves.” “Yes, I feel overwhelmed right now, and I see that I haven’t asked for help.” The possibilities are endless.
“Yes, And” is a practice and over time, it will begin to happen more naturally. This week, I invite you to give it a try. See where in your life resistance may be showing up in your mind and what might change if you use “Yes, And” instead.
As always, I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon.