When you’re dealing with depression, turning down offers becomes part of your norm. So what happens when you make yourself say yes?
I must admit that some years back there was a significant period of time, an era that I do not pleasantly recall, when I was attracted to the notion of death. I was so deeply disassociated with everything that I was, or indeed wasn’t, that it seemed pointless to live on. Within this state of flux, I did not feel like I was even alive.
The absolute worst thing however, was living burdened with a constant and crippling fear of something that I could not even understand. In it’s intangible state, my fear was completely untouchable. It stalked my every move and as a result there was a relentless, miserable discomfort that shrouded all I did. It was from this very sense of glum helplessness that control seemed solely attainable through the ultimate termination of everything. Although back then a solution seemed unfathomable, I realize now that the fear that had insipidly integrated into my life merely existed within a void that would normally be filled with love.
I did not love myself, nor did I love life and as such, fear was allowed to permeate my very being and soon began to control the decisions that I was making on a day-to-day basis. My childlike lust for life was replaced with a self-defense mechanism that hinged, quite hopelessly, on saying one word to all opportunities that came a’ knocking: ‘No’. One could not lose in what one did not partake, or so I thought at the time. As a result of overusing the word no, all of my remnant motivation dissipated, I gained over 100lbs in fat and developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. My life stood completely and utterly still. I became an extra in my own life’s film biopic, as the whole cast and crew frustratedly waited for the lead male to arrive.
The night before the day that everything changed my dad sat by my bed, which I had occupied full time for over a week, and simply said ‘You are coming to work with me tomorrow, there is a job that you can do’. The job involved getting up and 5am, it involved filling out many lengthy forms and it involved effort, so naturally I said no. My father left knowing he could not cajole me into doing something that I would not want to do. He is a stubborn man, a trait that he knows he passed onto me.
The next day at 4:30 a.m. I awoke, as if on autopilot, and joined my dad for work. Although I didn’t know why at the time, from deep within the echelons of my subconscious, the love that my dad had shown in his offer had sparked something long lost—a faith in life. This was the first time I had said yes to my life in a very long time.
Honestly, the job was far from pleasurable and I considered quitting on a handful of occasions, but I persevered and through this work gained the confidence to start planning a move into my very own apartment. The day that I moved in, I had enough money in the bank to pay half of my next month’s rent if I didn’t eat. I had no choice but to make things happen – and make them happen I did with my powerful new word.
I said yes to a volunteer role presenting a radio show at my local online station and then yes again when they offered me a job to work on their sales team. I said yes when my friend offered me a free gym induction and then yes when they asked if I was able to commit to the gym for a year. I said yes to the idea of adopting a baby rabbit and then yes to facing my previously repressed sexuality; therein starting on my liberating journey of self-discovery. I said yes to canning a music project that I had grown dependent on, but had long gone dead. I said yes to the recruiter who subsequently landed me a much more senior job at a far bigger company. I said yes to a newer and swankier apartment that my new job could afford. Yes to traveling Europe and then yes to climbing right to the top of Macchu Pichu; although I’m petrified of heights. Yes to this, yes to that… yes. Yes. YES!
A few years on and I have lost over 130lbs; I’m in the best shape of my life. I have also moved continents to assume a directorial role at a global business. I have played international soccer at the ‘EuroGames’ in Stockholm and am indulging my love of writing with a daily blog. I regularly volunteer my time mentoring my peers through their problems (ones that I know all too well) and am also helping small ethical businesses plan their marketing strategies. I am learning to sail, have become an active member of the longboard community and am in talks with a hilarious Irish man about starting a topical weekly podcast.
I am a living and breathing example of what the yes philosophy can achieve.
It’s not until recently however that I have fully realized just how powerful the word yes really is and as the superhero trope dictates, with great power, comes great responsibility.
Although this word has enriched my life in so many weird and wonderful ways, I am learning to be more careful about when I use it. The yes model is great to get you out of a rut by is ultimately unsustainable when you hit your stride, the sweet spot. There comes a time when you have so many exciting plans that there are no more hours in the day to fill with other adventures, without detrimentally impacting on the plans you already have. It is at this point that it becomes advisable that you begin to employ the word no – albeit politely.
At the core of it all, a simple truth exists. The not-so-secret route to happiness is uncovered through leveraging the power of both yes and no.