Feeling Yes, Feeling No

Feeling Yes, Feeling No - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

Have you ever seen the Jim Carrey movie, “Yes Man”?

Carl, played by Jim Carrey has become withdrawn with an increasingly negative spin on life since his divorce.

A friend invites him to a “YES!” seminar which turns his life around. Carl decides that he is going to stop being a “No Man” and vows to answer “YES!” to every opportunity, request or invitation that comes his way.

How can you apply the power of “YES” to your emotional life?

Many of my clients have a difficult time giving themselves permission to experience their emotions and will go to great lengths to avoid their emotions. The fear is that they will be propelled into a bottomless pit of sorrow. Energy is devoted to resisting and rejecting emotion, particularly sadness and anger.

Mindfulness practitioners understand the impact of saying “NO” to yourself, particularly when you are saying “NO” to your emotions.

An exercise from Tara Brach’s book, Radical Acceptance, helps illustrate the effects of saying “YES” to our emotions:

Sitting quietly, close your eyes and take a few full breaths. Bring to mind a current situation that elicits a reaction of anger, fear or grief. Be especially aware of these feelings in your heart, stomach and throat.

In order to see first hand what happens when your resist experience, begin with experimenting with saying “No”. As you connect with the pain of the situation you have chosen, mentally direct a stream of “NO” at the feeling. Let the word carry the energy of “No” – rejecting, pushing away what you are experiencing. Notice what resistance feels like in your body? Do you feel tightness, pressure? What happens to the painful feelings as you say “No”. Imagine what it would be like to move through the world carrying this experience of “No”.

Now take a few deep breaths and let go by relaxing through your body. Call to attention again the painful situation you have chosen previously, remembering the images, words and beliefs attached to it. Direct a stream or “YES” at your experience. Agree to the experience of yes. Let the feelings float. Say yes to the pain. “Yes” to the part that wants the pain to go away. “Yes” to whatever thoughts and feelings arise. Notice your experience as you say “Yes”. Is there softening, opening and movement in your body? Is there more space and openness in your mind?

This exercise is a tool to release judgment over emotional experience. Curiousity and the willingness to observe your internal process is all that is needed to start.

The Brief Version

For those people who prefer a more abbreviated exercise you can simply sit and say to yourself, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no” and pay close attention to what is happening in your body. Then do the same but say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” and notice the difference.

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 12:00 PM and is filed under Thoughts and Therapy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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