I am certain that many of you have experienced some kind of a negative swirling scenario. All of a sudden, everything in your day or life feels like it is literally falling apart. Nothing you do seems to matter or go right. The things that you were fairly confident about are now turning into the unexpected crap.
Then, fast forward the story two, three, six months from now. As you look back at that same sh*tstorm, you realize that everything fell into place in a way that was even better than you could have imagined. Negative situations were resolved, relationships that felt doomed somehow dissolved or moved forward. Whatever it was, it worked out in ways that turned out to be even more amazing than you thought possible.
Options to handle the unexpected
This kind of thing happens to me often. I will be smack dab in the middle of the storm and I am seemingly faced with two options.
Option 1. I can freak out, which is what feels most natural and available in the moment.
Option 2. I can say, “Yes, thank you” to the unexpected, whatever just fell apart, got cancelled or didn’t work out. And, I can proceed knowing that whatever happens now will be even better than what I had planned. Option 2 my friend is easier said than done, but not impossible and pretty life changing.
Let’s work on it.
Here’s an example: I had an appointment this week that cancelled last minute. In the moment, I was totally put out. It was frustrating because I had rescheduled other things to accommodate this meeting and had invited others to join the appointment that was now cancelled.
My two options:
Option 1. Be angry/disappointed/frustrated and carry that into the rest of my day.
Option 2. Say, “Yes, thank you” and go for a run on the beach (my favorite thing ever) because I now have an extra two hours. Yes please!! So I went running instead of carrying negativity into my day. This choice allowed me to feel compassion and kindness for the person that had to cancel in the first place. They were doing their best and so am I.
Yes, thank you is a positive strategy
I found my new favorite, “Yes, thank you” strategy in a book called Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses. The author was sharing the phrase in the context of a difficult yoga practice. And my mind took it a step further and applied it to everyday situations that we are all experiencing. The idea of saying, “Yes, thank you” to the unexpected situations that on the outside seem inconvenient, hurtful or maddening feels very empowering to me. I love changing the energy of disappointment into an opportunity for something even better to unfold.
I’m not gonna lie, this takes practice and isn’t always easy. As I sit here writing on my laptop, I have had a day full of disappointments. Most of the things that I thought would work out have not. All day long I have had to fight the urge to totally freak out, give up and eat a dozen gluten free cupcakes. Yet, I have not freaked out.
In spite of what has felt like a day full of set backs, I have continued to say, “Yes, thank you” to the chaos. By doing so, I am choosing positive thinking, to believe that whatever is coming in the place of what fell away will be even better than what I had been expecting.
Here is an even bigger example
For months I have been trying to get Violet the Hugging Octopus included in a literary event in November. I have sent countless emails that went unreturned, filled out tons of their required paperwork then waited and waited. I sent follow-up emails, made follow up phone calls and tried to register for the event through their website.
Finally, when I tried to pay a huge amount of money to have a booth at this event, the website would not take my credit card. This happened on two if not three different occasions. Each time these maddening situations happened, I had to remind myself that I had two options:
Option 1. Freak out, feel defeated and start to believe that no one will let me share my beloved children’s book.
Option 2. Say, “Yes, thank you” to whatever is making this soul crushingly impossible and let it go for now. Move on to another task with the belief that if I am supposed to be at this event that everything will work out in a way that is awesome and not frustrating at all.
Believe in option 2
Every enraging road block that I experienced with this event gave me one more opportunity to engage Option 2. Staying cool in the face of so many technical glitches and disappointments was difficult and I didn’t always accomplish that with grace. I may have complained, scowled, ate a half dozen gluten free cupcakes to smother my frustrations, but practice makes perfect. In the end, I continued to believe that if I was supposed to do this event, it would work out with my diligence and professionalism.
I stopped trying to push my way into the event that was totally not working out. I let it go by saying, “Yes, thank you” to every single road block that got in the way of this event and I moved on. A month after moving on and making space for the new, an opportunity presented itself. This was an opportunity to travel to one of my favorite cities on the very same weekend, to attend an event with Violet that I REALLY want to be a part of. My flight was booked with ease, I was well received by the event coordinators and turns out my very best besties are joining me on this trip. Bonus Girls Weekend!
Had my emails been answered and my payment for the first event gone through as it should have, I would not have been available to attend the second event. It worked out. I am truly honored and excited to be a part of this event. I said, “Yes, thank you”, let it go, continued to move forward and it panned out even better than I could have imagined.
Letting go is active
Letting go is an active endeavor. It is not passive or weak, quite the opposite. Releasing your death grip on whatever is not working in your life takes courage. Once you let go you must be a willing participant in moving your situation forward by remaining focused, open and doing the work. If it becomes evident that you are pushing too hard for something that isn’t working out (my incessant emails, calls, trying to pay and it not working out etc.) its time for you to step back. Take a moment and reassess the unexpected situation. Let the situation unfold in a new way, that is even better than you had imagined in the first place.
I have been practicing this for a while now and you guys, I think it’s really working. In very short order I have been able to redirect situations that in the past would have left me feeling negative and ineffective. Saying, “Yes, thank you” has given me my power back and has helped me to feel more open and receptive even when I’m not sure how things are going to pan out. Fear and uncertainty from plans that go awry can make me feel extremely uneasy, frustrated or small. I have continued to find that remaining open to the new, especially when things turn sour can really help me stay empowered and positive. What more can we ask of ourselves as we navigate through our daily experiences?
By adding this one small phrase, I have been able to act or react in ways that I am proud of in the face of set backs. That has been motivating and empowering.
Do you remember the movie Yes Man?
Jim Carrey plays a Negative Nelly whose life is a total drag. Until one day, in a self improvement course he learns the concept of saying yes to absolutely everything. He becomes a Yes Man and his entire life literally changes overnight. This is what this concept reminds me of.
Yes is inherently an open and abundant word. Saying yes to life opens you up to new ways of thinking. It brings new experiences and new outcomes that wouldn’t otherwise be possible if you were sitting there in your I’m too pissed off to move forward place.
I am all too familiar with that place and am willing to try just about anything to move through it and grow out of it. Including bringing, “Yes, thank you” into my vocabulary. It is an easy way to move away from our limited thinking and need to hold onto anger. Why hang on to things that aren’t working when you can let go and make room for the new?
The next time you find yourself in the middle of the unexpected storm offer a hearty, “Yes, thank you.” Not only will this bring you to a more positive place, it will help you remain open and receptive to an even better outcome than you could have imagined.
You can do this.
Carrie BeneshAugust 10, 2019 - 11:52 am ·
This is such a positive message. What a great way to reframe struggles. You always know just what I need., what everyone needs. One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi,”Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Sherry DuquetOctober 3, 2019 - 4:27 pm ·
Thank you Carrie! So glad that this message spoke to you.
Anne Welch WonsickAugust 15, 2019 - 5:21 pm ·
I have read this several times and it really helps my anxiety and the ability to not react to situations. Can’t say how many times a day I am saying “ Yes, thank you”.. an immediate calm comes over me.
Thank you for writing this article and sharing this very helpful tactic!
sherry duquetJanuary 17, 2022 - 11:53 pm ·
Anne, thank you so much for letting us hear how you found it helpful. You are so kind!