Yes And No Buts

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“I like your ideas, but unfortunately I don’t think it will work.”

“But”.  That fateful word, master of creative collapse.   A “but” is a huge wall, imposing darkness over the first part of the sentence, leaving the second half raging and ringing in the listeners’ ears. 

“But” splits the sentence in two.  When we say “but” we negate everything before it. “I’m sorry you feel that way, but…” is an empty sentence, an attempt at reconciliation that is likely to leave the listener feeling alienated and misunderstood.  “You did a great job, but…” leaves the receiver hanging on to the criticism at the end of the sentence, and might miss the compliment.  “But” erases and negates, emphasizing division.

I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.
— Mother Teresa
 blog post julia randall

More than that, when we tell someone they’re wrong with a “no”, we are pruning pathways and ideas. We are telling someone that we do not agree and do not relate to their experience.  We are told to ‘not walk on the grass’, ‘not drink and drive’. A UCLA study showed that the average toddler hears “no” up to 400 times a day. When we tell someone to “not forget” are we encouraging the remembering or the forgetting?  Mother Teresa famously told the world that she would never attend an anti-war rally, but would be the first to head a Peace March.  

On the brighter side, when we say yes, we are agreeing.  We are forming a connection with understanding.  We show that we are listening and that we can relate to what is being said, because we truly feel it from our own experience. When we say yes, we encourage and grow.  

Whereas “And” is the yoga of words, the yoke that opens its arms in a verbal hug.  “And” is the glue, the unifying principle.  “And” heralds in the space for contribution, the place where we build off what has been said already. It is a place for openness, where disagreement and conflict are brought together in harmony. What wonders are revealed when people listen together in the spirit of “and!”   

 yes no buts blog post julia randall

“Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! And, have you thought about it in this way?”

Why not have it all? 

Sometimes we think that saying “no” to others gives our own ideas more weight.  But the reality is, we can almost always replace “No, but” for “Yes, and” in a straight switch.  The difference is, the practice of saying “yes, and” creates a tiny piece of space between our words and our egos, a space where beautiful things can germinate, like collaboration.  When we say “no, but” we are bringing in our ego and taking the conversation in the direction that we personally prefer.  When we say “yes, and” we are giving the conversation a huge embrace, acknowledging all that has been said, as well as adding and growing ideas.

“Yes, I like your ideas, and I think if we focus in these areas we'll find a solution!"

For the next week, I invite you to join a worldwide experiment.  For every time you say “no, but,” try substituting with “Yes, and…”.  See where it gets you and those around you. It’s an easy switch. It’s simple, and yet life-changing.  For the truth is, every moment is an explosion of possibility.  You never know, you might just say “yes” to something miraculous.

“Yes! You got it!  And… let’s see where you go with it from here.”

N.B. Don’t be fooled… your negations might be hidden under a ‘yes, but'... 'No but''s deceptive twin.  Replacing 'no, but' with 'yes, but' is a common mistake that is potentially more upsetting than the original in its two-facedness.  

Remember, 'but' negates, 'and' creates.


 julia randall bio blog post

Jiya is a deeply connected leader who roots her teaching in the healing energy of nature.  Her teaching invites students to explore their own, unique unfolding, through profound awareness and trust in the wisdom of the Self.  Through her studies with teachers and shamans across the world, Jiya has developed a powerful sense of energetic connection and a strong set of philosophical and intuitive teachings, which she shares through creative hatha and yin yoga, sacred fire and medicine ceremonies, and healing therapies.  Jiya is also a talented musician and sound healer, who seeks out native chants and medicine songs from around the world to complement her work.

Jiya is YA-certified at the ERYT-300 level and has facilitated both intensive and module-format teacher trainings at RYT-200 and RYT-300 levels for several years, through Kula Collective, Holistic Yoga School, International and SchoolYoga Institute.  Following her degree in Physics at Imperial College, London, Julia worked as an Energy Consultant and part time writer in London, UK, before moving to Central America in 2009 to pursue a life centered on yoga and holistic health.  British by birth, Jiya is now based in Guatemala and teaches in Thailand, Australia, Mexico, Greece, USA, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Peru.