April 25, 2022

17 Invaluable Words of Wisdom from my Therapist.


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Yesterday my Facebook memories reminded me that five years ago, my therapist posted invaluable words of wisdom.

I have no recollection of that post or me sharing it with my network, nor do I remember what drama was probably in my life at the time that made the words meaningful to me.

I read them again.

“You do realize that every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else?”

The post specifically referred to the silly things we distract ourselves with, but I thought of all the big things I have said yes to in the past five years. Appropriately, this duration of time goes with the classic, canned question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I didn’t see pretty much all of what happened. I didn’t see a change from the job I was in to the one that came after. I certainly didn’t see myself working from home at said job due to a pandemic. And I didn’t see a broken heart, three trips out of the country, a move out of my neighborhood of 10 years, and then a move back to the neighborhood, with, I might add, a healed heart.

I thought about all the yesses that led to each step along the way.

If someone had asked, “Would you say yes to getting your heart broken?” I would have said “No.” If they had presented me with the option to exhaust myself cleaning out all my belongings to leave the country for six months and sprout gray hairs replacing those things upon returning, I would have said, “Do I look like I enjoy stress? No.”

But in reality, those things aren’t what I said yes to. I said yes to connecting with someone and allowing myself to feel like the only person in the room around him, a sure talent of his. I said yes to a change of living space that I knew I had been outgrowing for a long time. I said yes to cleaning things out that I no longer use. I said yes to achieving a goal of being outside the country for a living experience instead of just a week’s vacation. I said yes to returning to the familiarity of the corner café, bagels, and the convenience of drop-off laundry service. There were happenings that came from those experiences that I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen upfront, but the experiences in their entirety have led me on my life path.

Additionally, there are the “small” things and distractions we say yes to every day to consider, and how they contribute to our life experiences moment to moment.

Each little yes is leading to something bigger. Every time I say yes to meditating even though I don’t feel like it, I am deepening my awareness, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. Or when I say yes to buying a coffee I don’t need (often), how does that contribute to my financial goals? Never, but it does contribute to my “I want dopamine right now” goals and I’m okay with that. Or if I say yes to complaining (also frequent), does that contribute to my preference of feeling good? How about falling down the rabbit hole of cute YouTube videos? If I say yes to puppy videos, what am I saying no to? I find the awareness of truthful answers to these questions to be useful to my quality of life.

We say yes to many things every day without realizing it. So, perhaps we can learn something from questioning ourselves about it.

As a whole, what do our lives look like as a result of our yesses?

Not, what circumstances have been out of our control? But what did we say yes to after getting fired? What did we say yes to after getting dumped? What did we say yes to when someone offered us assistance? If we say yes to a morning routine, what are we saying no to? In contrast, if we say yes to setting several alarms and snoozing them all, what are we rejecting? When we hide the social media feed of an ex? Or hold the door for someone?

Sitting on the floor of a mostly empty apartment, I listened to the familiar sounds of a neighborhood I hadn’t heard in almost seven months and smiled to myself for the reasons I chose it.

I don’t know where I will be in five years, but I know that this yes has played its important part in contributing to it.


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