YES Challenge0

Dare to be unstoppable

YES Challenge

Today I want to challenge you to make a positive change in your life. I want to dare you to learn to speak the language of your subconscious and take the YES Challenge.

What is the YES Challenge?

It’s an experiment I’ve been going through lately, that has shifted my perception. Basically it implies replacing all the negative words used with positive ones. Negative words are those with a “no” in front of them.

Some very common examples:

I don’t want to eat now. –> I’ll eat when I’m hungry.
Don’t forget to buy groceries. –> Please remember to buy groceries.
Don’t tell him about it. –> Please keep this between us.
I don’t want to go to the party. –> I’d rather stay at home and read or watch TV.
Don’t tell me what to do. –> Please allow me to make my own decisions.
Don’t be late for the meeting. –> Make sure you arrive on time.
Don’t you want to do this? –> Would you like to do this?
I don’t know. –> I’ll inform myself and let you know as soon as I find out. / Good question. Let’s find out.

These are just some common examples of how rephrasing works. You can and should find the answers that suit you best. The basic assumption is that whenever you say “no” to something, you say “yes” to something else. The Challenge is to state directly the thing you are saying “yes” to. Read more to find out why.

The idea behind the Challenge

Some time ago I read about goals: how to formulate them right in order to obtain the best results. The materials presented were actually already familiar. I even learned about goal setting and the importance of having goals when it comes to success from a college course in management. And there was always one thing I noticed. Every single person teaching goals stated clearly that they should be formulated using positive words.

Apparently the reason to do so is the fact that our subconscious mind processes both positive and negative statements equally. It operates in images. That means that even if you tell it you don’t want to think about a pink elephant, it will show you pink elephants. If you hold on to images of what you don’t want, you will inevitably think about them and bring the negative into your focus.

Even though this idea was familiar, it dawned upon me again recently, while I went through a sales training. The trainer repeatedly told us we should always formulate our sentences in a positive manner. That means, we should avoid saying “no” to a customer, because the moment he or she hears that no, they will associate it with the inability to respond to their needs and refuse to close the deal. Instead, we should focus on what we CAN deliver to them.

So, I did, and got the expected results. And then I started wondering why only use this technique at work, when it can be employed in everyday life as well? That is when I decided to take on the Challenge. It was a big shift and I went as far as checking my inner dialogue, in order to reformulate it using positive statements. After all, I thought to myself that every time I affirm something cannot be done, there is something else that can be done instead. You do something all the time, even if you might have the opposite impression. And then the changes started appearing.

The benefits of the YES Challenge

First of all, I developed much greater clarity. By shifting my focus away from what I didn’t want, I forced myself to discover what it was I really wanted. It was very insightful, because some ideas really popped into my mind to replace the old negative ones, without me having considered them before.

Second, I felt much more powerful and in control of my life experience. This is both a side-effect of the improved clarity, as well as connected to the fact that I stopped thinking about all the things I wasn’t able to do and looked at what I could do instead. I kept affirming my value and my abilities. For instance, if someone asked me a favor I had to refuse (due to objective or subjective reasons), I told them what I was able to do instead for them. Overall, this new attitude made me feel much more empowered.

Third, I became aware of my inner dialogue. Most of us remain unaware of what is going on in our heads and we replay the same patterns over and over again. This challenge will force you to pay attention to what you are thinking and saying to yourself. Each time you catch yourself using negative words when you think about yourself, someone else or a situation, instantly rephrase them with something positive. It’s ok to make mistakes at the beginning or not to pay attention every time. The idea is to notice them, even after they have been thought or said out loud and affirm them again positively. Change requires the expansion of the comfort zone, but the pay-off is worth the effort.

I am curious how this new approach is perceived by others around me. So far, I am still waiting to see if their attitude will change in any way and how that will affect me in turn.

Some words of caution

There is a catch to this, though. In some situations you will simply be forced to say “no”, since it will be the only option. When this happens, it’s OK to just say it. Having implemented this change for a while now, I noticed that sometimes I got too stressed about figuring out an answer and avoiding to say no. This is not the purpose, however. Negations are indeed necessary. The problem is when we use too many of them, even in those situations when positive statements are more appropriate and empowering.

So, my suggestion is applying the 80-20 rule. Use in 80% of the cases YES and save the NO for the 20% when it becomes the only option. This will create a balance, it will remove the pressure from you and it will still keep you in a positive mind frame, enabling you to enjoy the benefits of this experiment. The idea is not to restrict you, but to empower you.

If you find the challenge to difficult in the beginning, I suggest you go through an intermediate phase, where you add a positive version of your sentence immediately after having said and noticed the negative one. It will gradually increase your awareness, but rephrasing before saying is much more effective.

Are you ready for the Challenge?

I dare you to take this YES Challenge and share your personal experience with us, both the difficulties encountered and the benefits gained. If you take on the challenge, make sure you also rephrase your inner dialogue, along with the words you use when talking to others. Comments are normally closed on the blog, but I’ll make an exception here and allow them. All comments will be moderated prior to being posted and I will delete those which have no connection to the topic.