The Principles of Yes

October 20, 2012

Going Slow means saying no.

But not always.

When we say “no” to certain opportunities, we are saying “yes” to the possibility of others. We are creating space for what is meant to come into our lives. But many of us fear that space, that moment of nothingness, that void in our hearts and souls that we feel compelled to fill with something, anything. Oftentimes we fill it with noise ~ whether it’s the TV, the radio or our own chatter.

Taking time to be quiet will give you the strength to get to “yes”.

The principles of “yes” do not mean you affirm everything everyone wants from you. Nor does it mean you are a yes man to anyone. It means you are standing firm in your power and in your belief in yourself. You are saying “yes” to the life you want to lead.

As I have often said, when we say “no” to someone or something, we are actually saying “yes” to ourselves. The first tenet in the principles of “yes” is to be clear about what is important to you.

Action items:

  • Name five things that have a priority in your life.
  • List an action for each one that you can undertake to support that belief.
  • If you can’t think of an action, reevaluate your list of priorities. Are you walking your talk or just paying lip service to those things? You may find you have entirely different priorities than you realized. Knowing this will help you get back into alignment with “yes”.

The second tenet of “yes” is to understand that even when we say “yes” to something, it may not turn out as we had planned. Maybe we say “yes” to a project that we think will be fulfilling, only to discover it wasn’t at all what it seemed. You may feel disappointed that things turned out that way, but in saying “yes,” you learned exactly what you needed to learn at that time. Trust that saying “yes” with conviction will lead you down the path you need to take, even if that path seems scary.

The third tenet of “yes” requires that you listen deeply to what you are affirming. Are you saying “yes” to the actual experience or are you saying “yes” to that pretty picture in your mind, painted with wild expectations? This tenet is based on the high involvement/low attachment idea. You are highly engaged in what you are doing without expectation that it will turn out at all.

Pretty Zen, huh?

The final tenet of “yes” is the contagion factor. When you smile out into the world with an aura of “yes”, others will notice and want to know where you got it. Glowing from the inside out, you can share your “yes” story with them.

Sharing your “yes” moments with others will make the world a better place. It will encourage them to do the same for themselves. Can you imagine a world in which we all dance to the rhythm of  our personal “yes”? Oh, yeeeeeesssss!


Say what?


You gotta be kidding me!?

Those are all ways of saying ‘no’. They may not be eloquent choices, but they get the job done. If you have trouble being that direct (and most of us do), there are gentler versions of ‘no’ that can be equally effective without the collatoral damage to your relationships. At any rate, one can consider the word ‘no’ as a powerful way to say ‘yes’ to yourself.

Building boundaries that empower you while encouraging others to respect you is a none too easy task, especially for the people-pleasers among us. It has been proven, however, that always saying ‘yes’ to others can lead to conditions as severe as burnout and depression.

Cyndi Dale and Andrew Wald recently penned a book called Togetherness: Creating and Deepening Sustainable Love that shows readers how to set personal boundaries that will actually strengthen personal relationships. According to the authors, saying ‘no’ helps us to figure out who we are and who we want to be in our relationships. By setting boundaries, we keep our personal identities alive — and our personal relationships honest, balanced, and intact.

To directly quote Tina Turner: What does love have to do with it? In a word, everything.

Self-love is not narcissism. It’s a life-sustaining force. The authors offer several ways to build beautiful boundaries to let love in ~both from others and from ourselves.

How you are going to say ‘yes’ to yourself today?

What Do Your Boundaries Say About You?
By Cyndi Dale and Andrew Wald
Adapted from Togetherness: Creating and Deepening Sustainable Love

In our lives — and in relationships — we create personal boundaries to define the space we call our own. We set boundaries and say “no” with our words, but even more so with our behavior and actions: we may tell white lies, come up with excuses, or throw ourselves into activities like work, working out, or volunteering — essentially creating boundaries by making ourselves unavailable.

Boundaries may sound negative, but in reality, they are very important and help to define our personal identities. For example, being the nurturer or a people-pleaser comes with boundaries that fit those roles. Being the boss or the guru comes with a different set of boundaries that keep those identities intact. In this sense, personal boundaries allow us to “locate” ourselves within relationships (or within the world) in a way that’s familiar and safe. Our boundaries help us to honor the balance between taking care of ourselves, and taking care of others.

Here are four practices that will empower you to update your personal boundaries and take ownership of your life:

Honor yourself. What parts of your life are in need of care or attention? On a daily basis, find simple ways to honor yourself. Choose three things you like doing every day, and then do them. You might pick something as simple as taking a walk, reading, or having lunch with family or friends. Whatever you choose, know that you deserve to have pleasure, so let pleasure be your guide.

Soothe yourself. Are you living the life you want to live? Or do you feel like you are stuck and don’t have a choice in what’s happening? In these moments, stop and recognize the feeling of “choiceless­ness,” check your assumptions, and acknowledge the needs and desires you’re afraid won’t get met. With practice, you will find that cultivating the awareness of choice is profoundly soothing to your soul.

Embrace choice. Every time we make a decision, we have an opportunity to determine a course of action: “Do I stay here and face the situation, or do I run out the door?” By recognizing that you have control over your own reactions, you’ll also have the opportunity to reinforce, change, or alter your boundaries.

Accept yourself and your life lessons. Shame and disappointment about our lives causes us to create false boundaries and interactions with the people we care about most. It’s important to accept who you are and what has happened in your life. When faced with a challenge or disappointment, ask yourself: “What is my lesson here? How is this challenge a way for my soul to grow?” Use your answers to create boundaries that reflect acceptance of your true self.

Cyndi Dale is an internationally respected author, cross-cultural healer, and spiritual scholar with over 35,000 client sessions and trainings across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Andrew Wald, LCSW-C, is a psychotherapist with advanced certifications in Imago Relationship Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Together, they have co-authored the new book, Togetherness: Creating and Deepening Sustainable Love (June 2012).

In an effort to suspend judgement here, I must admit we’re a nation of ‘doing too much’. Perhaps it’s simply in our cultural DNA to don the can-do spirit like we would a Hoodie. But Daniel Pink raises a great question about that in a recent blog post. Just because we can-do doesn’t mean we should.

There. I said it. Should. It’s a word I try to avoid, but it’s times like these that require drastic measures. It seems as if our can-do spirit has us duped.

Really what Daniel’s saying is there are a lot of things we want to do; but that doesn’t necessarily lead us down the road to infinite happiness. We’re still human beings with all the frailities attached to it. We like to take short cuts and feel good about it in the process.

Like diet experts, he says, personal productivity gurus have mushroomed out of the ground in the last few years because no one seems to be crying “Halt — in the name of my sanity!” He explores the most powerful one-word sentence in the English language.


Say it with me now ~ “No. Nope. Uh-uh.”

But is saying ‘no’ to ourselves, our wants, our could-do-ness, really all that fun? Really it’s not. Like cheese fries over cottage cheese, we are faced with choices that may not be as fun, but are ultimately better for us.

Take unplugging for a weekend as an example. Can you really feel whole by not turning on your smartphone first thing in the morning to see what you might have missed at night? It requires a whole skill set of discipline and mindfulness that you might not possess.

As my friend recently inquired, where do we get the willpower?

That’s where support systems (and, yes, personal productivity gurus) come in. We might need to set a process in place in which external reminders grab our attention when we swerve off the path of slow.

I’m not saying you should. But you could.

Will you?


Many thanks to Psychology Today reader Kallin, who pointed me to this mind map, courtesy of It beautifully illustrates how we can regain control of the things we do in the time that we have.

Happy Monday Morning, All!

Simple Ways to Slow - Courtesy of

A percent sign.
Image via Wikipedia

“I sing to the six percent,” Roseanne Cash told me in an interview this past summer. That is to say she sings to the poets, to the creators who get it.

Whenever I’m off kilter (which, at this time of year, seems to be a lot!), I look at which percentage of myself is being spoken to or ignored. If I were to divide myself into two parts, I would say I’m 80% feminine energy and 20% masculine. In business I tug at every decimal of those 20%; but at times my 80% wants to play, too; she gets in the way when I have to be decisive. She wants to make it alright for everyone and would rather not say ‘no’.

“You don’t ever say ‘no’,” my colleague advised. “You simply tell them what it’s going to cost them. Having clients is like parenting. There are consequences to every decision.”

Wow. I would have toppled from my chair if it didn’t have armrests.

A pretty neat concept. He listened patiently to my 80/20 percent evaluation and then gave me a way to say ‘no’ with kindness.

Aren’t I supposed to be telling him how to do that, according to Chapter Four in The Power of Slow?

When your two halves are out of synch, ask yourself which half is speaking? Then acknowledge its need. Sometimes soothing that part of ourselves that is out of alignment can be just the trick to getting back on the path to slow…and wellness!

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The Slow Power of ‘No’

December 15, 2010

You know you’re in trouble when your boss’ Monday morning question starts with “Can you do me a favor?”

How on earth can you say ‘no’ to that?

Actually, you can. In the greatest power of slow style, best-selling author of Start with No Jim Camp teaches us how. His intention may not be to save time as it is in my book, but saying ‘no’ can save you a lot of heartache, if you have the proper mind set.

Jim writes:

Most of us have been taught that if we want others to cooperate with us, we have to compromise — that is, to get something, we have to give something.  There’s a better way, however, to getting what you want: Start with no.  So, if your New Year’s resolutions for 2011 include being more assertive, standing up for yourself, and reaching your goals, the “No” system can be your ticket to success.”

So when I probed further, he revealed the top seven ways to use ‘no’ with little effort. Jim suggests the following:

1. Start with no. Resist the urge to compromise.  Instead, invite the other person to say “no” to your proposal.  (Hint: Don’t tell him or her what it is — at least not yet.)  And be clear that, personally, you don’t take no as rejection, but as a candid start to an honest discussion.

2. Dwell not. Dwell on what you want, and you blow your advantage.  Throughout the discussion, focus instead on what you can control — your actions and behaviors. [Editor’s note: this is the underyling principle in the power of slow as well. Choice underscores everything, including your relationship with time.]

3. Do your homework. Learn everything you can before you begin.  This way, you prevent a minefield of surprises, whether you’re dealing with the boss, a car dealer, or your own teenager. [Editor’s Note: If you find a great technique for dealing with teens, write to me. I’m struggling with that one right now!]

4.  Face problems head-on. Identify the “baggage” — both theirs and yours — and bring these issues out into the open.  Facing, not avoiding, problems gives you an edge. [Editor’s Note: I call that identifying expectations by laying it all out in the open.]

5. Check your emotions at the door. Exercise self-control, and let go of any expectations, fears, or judgments.  (And, whatever you do, don’t be needy.)  Sure, this is easier said than done, but it gives you an edge. [Editor’s note: As for expectations, we all have them. My suggestion is to acknowledge them from the beginning. That way they lose their power over you.]

6. Get them talking. Ask open-ended questions that begin with what and how.  Find out what the other person wants and needs, and then show him or her how your proposal actually benefits them. [Editor’s note: This is a great sales tool. Starting with ‘no’ means never asking a yes or no question!]

7.  Build a vision. Create a story that presents your proposal as their solution.  In helping the other person see exactly what he or she will gain from your plan, you spark decision-making and action.

Jim Camp is a leading negotiating coach and author of NO: The Only Negotiating Strategy You Need for Work and Home. President and CEO of Camp Negotiation Systems, he’s coached individuals, corporations, and governments worldwide through hundreds of successful negotiations. Contact him on the Web at