The Yes Once Rule

I have just said yes to something that I would normally say no to.

You have to do this rather a lot in recovery; otherwise things just stay the same.

You have to start saying “yes”, even if your head is saying “no”; because you don’t find out what you’re capable of unless you take a little risk and give something new a go.

It has taken me a while to realise this. In the absence of a Jim Carey film which manages to make the point in about 90 minutes, I didn’t automatically see the connection between my constricting life and the frequency with which I said no…

I just started feeling a little trapped.

Given that my eating disorder had a zillion rules and assumed the majority of my time, this was probably unsurprising, only –

Sometimes, after the relief of avoidance had worn off, I’d feel a little sad that I wasn’t joining in and wonder what I was missing out on; and, increasingly, as the “no-s” raced past the “yes-es”, I’d get frustrated that my options were so thin; and gradually, because I had no evidence to the contrary, I started believing that “no” was the only option –

So I took out the choice and only said “yes”.

The ‘yes once’ rule was designed to get me unstuck.

I started small (but I’d been saying no to rather a lot) – and abandoned expectation (because it was about taking part) – and, just like in the film, I put a temporary ban on “no”…

And so, when I was invited for a drink, I smiled politely and said “yes”, even if I wasn’t really in the mood or it messed with my routine; and, more often than not, the experience surprised me and I’d find myself having fun.

And if the opportunity to do something different – like Tai Chi, or Salsa dancing, or a new exhibition – was presented, I remembered that I wouldn’t know what I didn’t like unless I gave it a try, and went with “everything once”.

When my head was screaming “but you can’t do that” to a dinner out or a spontaneously proposed lunch, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I could, at least, try; and, if the occasion was outside my narrowly defined comfort zone, I took a deep breath – and jumped –

Because, when you say “yes” to something that you’re scared of, you can work through the fear, rather than cower under its command –

And, if you explore the things you’d normally say “no” to, you can sometimes find yourself wondering what all the fuss was about; and discovering that you’re far more capable then you might have assumed–

Which you wouldn’t have realised if you’d kept saying no.

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