When Saying NO Means Staying True to Our BIG YES

In the movie The Extraterrestial, at the tender age of 13, I saw how children in America, who were not really that rich, in fact they were poor, could order pizza over the telephone with a credit card.

"Pizza", "telephone", "order", "credit card".  Those were new words for me, things I had never heard of within the same sentence, in the depths of a lower middle class existence, while living in stucked-up apartments near downtown Buenos Aires. They caused a deep impression on my young ears.

We did not get a phone in my house until I was 12 (we took turns picking it up when it rung which was not often as nobody knew our number). Let alone a credit card - We barely had food.  I knew right then, while watching ET in the darkness of that Buenos Aires cinema, then that one day I would be ordering pizza too, over a phone, with a credit card. These three symbols, mostly related to ordering food, had revealed to me a new level of freedom. I was sold. I wanted to live in America.

Silly? YES and, well, I was 13 and easily seduced by the wonders of the world of pizza.  Matter of fact, I still am. I still have trouble believing that pizza shows up at my door when we call the local parlor, or that airplanes fly and that I-Pads exist!

oh yeah...
Once I knew what I wanted -YES- I had to start saying some hard core "NO"s.  For example, taking English lessons at the Buenos Aires English Culturan Center twice a week took me away from my friends, which at 13 was a big deal.  I also had extra homework, I had to start reading newspapers in a language that was hard for me to follow, start making sentences, work hard at it.

Once we know we have a big YES within us it becomes more clear, perhaps even easier, to say NO to things that do not align with our goal.

While working in the corporate world, once in America and filled to the rim with pizza, I learned that getting into arguments with co-workers was not the way to go.  It was much easier to take a step back, study the situation and negotiate a better outcome where everyone won.

It was hard not getting into fights sometimes. In a culture where everyone is "out to get you", or "back-stab you" buttons get pushed and not-reacting is hard!

Knowing that peace of mind was around the corner was the big YES that got me through some very dark years. It helped me to stay sane, and endure what I could barely take.  I had a big YES backing me up which it made it all the more palatable to say NO to the usual baits.

Been there too?
Cartoon image from here

In general, not getting in the mud is the best policy as we clearly learn in yoga sutra 1.33.  It is what brings us focus and energy for working on those things we do want.

So if we know we want the peace, clarity, and goal of yoga, then it becomes clear we must say YES to the yamas and niyamas and get on the mat every day.  Saying NO to sleeping two more hours or eating a heavy meal pass 7 PM becomes the passport to a bright practice that brings us closer to our big YES.

The Kind of YES that can even help you fly!

But sometimes saying "NO" seems difficult.  It is much easier to just "go with the flow".  We give up, it is too much, the button pushed goes too deep.

That line of thought simply does not have a BIG ENOUGH YES behind it.  When the YES is huge, when it is really the main thing and only thing we want, then even the form in which we say NO becomes more focused, kinder, true and dare I say, easy.


  1. Thanks Claudia--I needed this today--too many people have been inviting themselves for visits, and I say yes, which interferes with my writing time, and I must get my next manuscript in shape. My writing is my big yes--but I have not protected that space like I need to. Also, I just had a very disgruntled student in my office, and I didn't jump into the debate. I was kind and clear. But I need to say "no" to fretting all day about this student's anger. Inner Peace is the big yes. Thank you for the post. You rock!


    1. happy that you like it Tara and that it helps. I read a story once about a woman who when she wrote she put a sign on her New Mexico door, at the end of the driveway that said that she was writing, to not disturb her, even if you were a medical visit or even if thought it did not apply to you otherwise she would "show her incisors", it had me cracking up and I could relate! :-) writing does need protection like you say!

  2. i agree with you anonymous. inner peace is a big yes. my kids are also a big yes for me, but i now see the need to delegate some parenting tasks to the daycare/nanny to focus on getting on the mat or meditation.

    1. I would agree completely with you, you need your time, I know I need mine. And I think it is good for the kids to see that mummy takes care of herself! Good luck! I know how difficult it is even from being just a step mom...

  3. I too needed to hear this today. I am having trouble with my boss/coworkers who question/poke fun of my values, many of which come from my developing yoga practice. It's a good reminder that taking the bait on inconsequential things (my eating habits) never works. I just need to chill, go to a conference room and breathe and not take the bait. (And maybe reread James' post about Crappy People).

    1. ha ha, yes, the crappy people post is one I re-read constantly... and it comes handy especially in corporate situations!!! Good luck there! hang in until the thread of yoga changes the unvierse and puts you in a different, happier circumstance, it is bound to happen!

  4. You just helped me win a battle against a doughnut purchase! ( and on the eve of a moon day when all bets are off) thank you. Very inspiring.

  5. Really Serenefalor? ha ha ha! I was NOT expecting THAT! :-) and you are just reminding me, indeed it is the eve of a moon day ahhhh the happiness of the sound of it! :-)

  6. Oh, how I'm looking forward to protecting the boundaries of my big YESes. And that statement leaves me to wonder...what's stopping me? Hmm. Thank you for this!


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