Response: "5 Unexpected Signs Your Life Is Changing for the Better" by Mel Rie
A “no” is always a “yes” in disguise. Whenever you say “no” to one thing, you are saying “yes” to something else. When you say, “no, I can’t do that,” you are saying, “yes, I’m committing to (fill in the blank with an action, habit, feeling, commitment, etc.). When you say “no” to making a change in your life, you are saying, “yes, I’m committed to keeping things as they are.” This applies to health, relationships, money, time, and just about everything else that you value.
How You Know Your Life is Changing for the Better
While reading this reflection from Mel Rie, I found myself both nodding my head a lot, and smiling too. The opening line: “you want your life to change fundamentally; you need to fundamentally change how you show up to it” reflects the past few years of my own life. It also echoes what I hear from my group members as they go through the Awaken program. When you start to say “yes” the life you want to live, even if it scares you a bit, you change the trajectory of your life. Each “yes” is a resounding “no” to the status quo. Each “yes” creates a shift and change in the trajectory of your life path from what currently is toward where you want to be and how you want to feel. When your life is on an upward trajectory, things start to shift. The shifts are so subtle at first that you start to wonder if anything is happening. Then one day, you wake up and look around and realize that some things are genuinely different. You catch yourself in a new situation—a new feeling. Then things start to get exciting!
A few years ago, I was on the edge of burnout. I was working full time as a psychotherapist, teaching graduate classes at local university, and mentoring recent graduates toward licensure as a clinical supervisor. I was also enrolled in an Ayurveda wellness counselor training. My days started and ended with work and studying, as did my weekends. Time for play, joy, and connecting with others outside of work-related events and activities was rare and seldom occurred without a subtle feeling of guilt. I was so caught up in work and all of the busyness that I lost myself in the process. My definition of self-care was taking more trainings and classes, meditating daily, and practicing yoga. My self-care was a self-preservation check-list that I accomplished daily. It kept me functioning, but not happy. I loved the people that I served in my work, but my body and life were suffering from how I was showing up for them. I was exhausted. Despite my yoga and meditation practice, I was increasingly disconnected from the needs of my own body and heart.
One day, in my Ayurveda class, my teacher showed a 3-minute video about a trip to India. It was simply a slide show of a previous trip that he had led put to music. There were images of people practicing yoga, receiving body treatments, and sharing beautiful meals. There were images of elephants, temples, and the Ganges.
I felt this swell in my chest as I watched it, and I found myself fighting back the tears. I had to go there. I had to make this trip. As I thought about going, my heart sank. To go on this trip, I would not only need to pay for the cost of the trip, plus any spending money while there—but, since PTO is not a benefit for therapists in private practice or adjunct faculty, I would also need to have enough money to cover three weeks of no income. The more I tried to make the numbers work, the more defeated I felt. My whole being said, “yes,” however, my logical mind said, “no—you can’t do this.” Nevertheless, something in me was responding to this opportunity. I could feel it in every cell of my body. I knew that something in my life needed to change. My body was telling me so through headaches, back pain, and persistent fatigue. I realized that saying “no” to this trip was a way of saying “yes” to continuing with my life as usual. That “no” was a big, fat “yes” to more fatigue and a contribution to my burnout trajectory. Then I made a decision. I was going to go to India. I told my husband, my friends, and my colleagues. I had no idea how I was going to make it happen, but I said “yes” to changing my trajectory. It was a risk, it was scary—and I said “yes” anyway. I did some more challenging math, and developed a plan. I got creative. For the next 13 months, I held that vision of the trip and followed my plan. The following year I was on a plane to India. That was the beginning of the end of my path toward burnout. When I came back, my life started to change. On that trip, I had the opportunity to live in a different rhythm. At the Ayurveda center where my group stayed, we learned a new definition of self-care. It was centered around self-love, a real turning toward the body, and loving the body. It was about connecting with the body—and with nature. I was amazed by what I experienced—and what I witnessed others in my group experience. In our time there, we were all transformed.
When I returned, it was evident that I couldn’t go back to doing things as I did before. I signed up for a training program that would teach me more about Ayurveda and how to integrate what I learned in India into my daily life. Almost instantly, things changed.
Everything that this short article describes began to happen. I started doing small things that were outside of my comfort zone, quite spontaneously. I was talking to new people and interacting with people outside of work! My community changed. I found myself in daily interactions with some of the most inspiring people I had ever met—people who made it a habit to step outside their comfort zone regularly, setting boundaries around work, creating businesses, and having fun too! At one point, I realized that if I mentioned a dream or desire that I had for my life in this new community, somehow within weeks, I would be in a situation where I was actively creating the changes necessary for that dream or desire to come to being! Old self-sabotage thoughts and patterns were becoming more and more evident—and even comical to me. I was feeling more empowered every day! I quit teaching and retired from clinical therapy practice—I started a business! Every day felt a little terrifying and equally exciting. Each day little shifts occurred. Even the hard days were okay. They were met with compassion, both from myself and my new community. My body changed, my backaches were gone—as were my allergies (that I had for over 30 years!). What’s so interesting about all of this is that it happened very fast. So fast that I barely noticed the changes as they were happening. In looking back, though, WOW! It was one decision: one choice to invest in me and listen to that calling in my heart. It was one “yes” to a desire to change the direction my life was heading and saying “no” to staying in the “safe and familiar.”
What are You Saying “Yes” to?
These signs that the author speaks of—they are real and can go unnoticed if you’re not paying attention.
Take a moment: look at your life right now. What’s changing? What’s the same?
What do you want to say “yes” to right now that would change the trajectory of your life toward what you want and how you want to feel?
Where do you want to play and connect more in your life?
Spend a few moments with these questions.
Why? Because they hold the answer to the direction of your life—and your life matters. You matter.
You matter a lot.