The Power of ‘Yes’
By: Talor Stone June 9, 2019
We are taught our whole lives to say ‘no’.
From a young age our parents tell us not to talk to strangers. Trust is treated as a precious commodity to be bestowed upon few, and life experiences sadly tend to confirm this skepticism. But I’m here to tell you there is a different path that can make your life infinitely richer and open doors to new and thrilling experiences.
Learning to say ‘yes’ more often has radically changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. And trust me when I tell you this … I used to be one of the greatest skeptics of all! Below is the story of how I radically transformed my life from one totally lacking trust in anyone and everyone to one enriched by faith in the world around me.
We are all born into this world with wide and trusting eyes. This trust, however, is chipped away through negative life experiences, and I’m sure each and every one of us can clearly recall memories of trauma which taught us to be more skeptical. For me, two experiences stand out as ones which taught me not to trust.
First, my military experience was a little different than most. I worked as a federal agent and spent the vast majority of my time investigating serious crimes ranging from aggravated assault to rape to murder. In that job I truly saw the worst humanity had to offer. I witnessed crime scenes, attended autopsies, heard the cries of victims, and interrogated suspects. If there is any job in the world designed to destroy your faith in humanity and trust in others … this was it. On a daily basis I was shown clear evidence of the evil we can do to one another, and over time all the negative experiences added up. When the majority of your human interactions are surrounded negative and horrible events, it can truly cloud your perspective on humanity in general. I gradually quit letting new people into my life and began every conversation with the assumption that I was being lied to.
Second, my marriage quickly devolved into one colored with violence and abuse. I’m hardly ready to divulge many details about this (maybe one day I will be), but without a doubt the emotional oppression of a tumultuous relationship took its toll. I turned inward and sheltered myself from the world believing it could only hurt me. I lost friends, turned down opportunities, and gradually became a shadow of myself hidden from a painful world.
After these experiences (and countless other more minor ones) saying ‘no’ was second nature. ‘No’ was the one word that could protect me from any friendship that would only use me and from any experience that would just disappoint me. But when ‘no’ dominates your life you never move forward. You live life in the status quo and circumstances will inevitably fail to improve which only reinforces your reasons for saying ‘no’. My experience is not unique. Many of us find the status quo more comfortable than change and favor the known over the unknown. Saying ‘no’ makes us feels safe, but we fail to realize that it cedes control over our lives to the status quo. When I made the conscious choice to start saying ‘yes’, I took control of my life back into my own hands and my life became dynamic and exciting taking me to places I never expected.
A few years ago my home circumstances became completely untenable. Something inside of me just broke and this represented an important turning point. I decided I didn’t want to die or just waste away in my current circumstances and I finally left my ex-husband. After something so deeply traumatic it would have been easy to just turn inward and never trust another person again. To simply hide and protect myself from everything threatening and unknown. But instead I made a conscious and willful decision about my future which granted me a new power over my own life which I never expected. I promised myself that I would learn to trust again. To do this, I decided I would start saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity that came my way (as long as it didn’t directly harm myself or others). From this one decision came the start of a wild journey the fruit of which is my photography career.
Saying ‘yes’ gave me power over my life and introduced me to the most amazing people and exciting adventures. Saying ‘yes’ to a stranger led me to hike across the Grand Canyon. Saying ‘yes’ got me a place to sleep comfortably after an injury in the desert. Saying ‘yes’ led me to sleep on a sailboat in the Arctic and got me my first aerial flight. Saying ‘yes’ has helped me make new best friends and opened doors to working with some of the most talented photographers on the planet. Because I began to say ‘yes’, my life was enriched with new experiences and wonderful people. My eyes were opened to the truth: that the world can be a kind and beautiful place full of promise if you’re just willing to receive it.
With this story comes a challenge to you. Consider making a change in your life even for just one day. Try speaking to that stranger at the coffee shop. Genuinely ask the clerk about their day. Say ‘yes’ to a new experience you’ve been holding back on. Open yourself up to the possibility that there are open doors waiting for you and adventures you couldn’t even imagine!