Neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg has done research through brain scans showing that there is a word that releases more stress neural chemicals in our bodies than any other word.
It seems obvious.
The word is “no”.
His research shows that even when we simply perceive that word – not just say it – “no” has a negative effect on us.
At one level we’re preconditioned to pay more attention to anything negative because it’s part of our DNA and has helped us to survive. When our cavemen ancestors used permutations of “no” it was part of the flight-or-fight response to keep them from being eaten by a predator and to avoid danger.
But through evolution, our left-brain’s have co-opted that word beyond its survival needs and we’ve become conditioned to saying it habitually – and I would suggest, non-mindfully. This is why we often react to things unconsciously from a fixed narrative that the word “no” supports.
The entire universe is really functioning as one gigantic “yes” and everyone and everything we say “no” to takes us a step away from our center. Which is really possibility.
The poet ee cummings said, “Yes is a world and in this world of yes live (skillfully curled) all worlds.”
So “yes” gives us access to new worlds; new possibilities. It’s inclusive. And “yes” isn’t just a word. It’s feeling. It has an energetic equivalent that shows up in many ways. When we feel joy, that’s a “yes”. When we are compassionate. When we express and forgive; have fun and allow ourselves to be empathetic. These are all acts of “yes”. They are life affirming, expansive gestures and create openings in our life.
“No” doesn’t do that. It’s a closed system.
Our work as artists is to become aware of how often we not only say “no” to things literally – an opportunity, a date, a job possibility, an adventure – but also the more subtle ways we say “no” to ourselves and to life’s calling.
When we tell ourselves we already know the outcome of something before we have actually experienced it – that’s a big fat “no”. So, you have a meeting with an agent and then tell your friends, “I know they won’t take me. They’ve already got someone like me.”
How do you know that? That’s pre-determinism. You already assume a forgone conclusion before you actually have all the information. That’s “no”.
We negate ourselves constantly. “I can’t do that.” “I suck.” “I’m a loser.” “Who would want me?” Or when we complain or whine things off in life.
Part of our process in becoming more aware; more present and mindful is to realize that we say “no” to things more often than we imagined.
And when we start saying “no” to things more often than we say “yes” we’re in deep doo-doo.
So, how do you fix that, you might ask?
Simply try saying “yes” this week more often than you say “no”. Catch how often you negate yourself (and others) in ways that are unconscious and habituated. Instead of responding automatically, correct yourself and try “yes” instead.
All kinds of things can happen. You might meet your future boyfriend. You could get a free latte at Starbucks. You might win $5 in SuperLotto. You’d be surprised to see what’s waiting for you. Whole new worlds, perhaps.