How Does ‘Maybe’ Make You Feel?
Connecting these dots changed my life.
Humans are conditioned to feel they need to put things in boxes. In caveman times, not knowing could mean death so, back then, we had a point. Now, not so much. In fact, this desire to box everything often causes more harm than good. Especially if, like me, you have/had a propensity toward anxiety.
“Yes or no?”, “Are you in or out?”, “Is it a one or zero?”. Binary is a language. It’s something we invented to make computers and machines work. We aren’t machines (even if we seem hell-bent on trying to be!). The natural world doesn’t know anything about Binary and, as much as we seem to be trying to make ourselves apart from the natural world, it’s becoming ever more apparent that we are a part of the natural world.
Along my journey through anxiety, the more and more I’ve learned about how my body and mind are deeply connected, the more and more I’m seeing how important our symbiotic relationship with nature is. In short, not working with nature, swimming against the stream, and trying to resist the natural flow of things doesn’t serve us.
With that in mind, when the penny dropped and my relationship with the word ‘maybe’ changed, I felt this huge weight lift off my shoulders.
“I don’t know” is often seen as a bad thing.
In the workplace, relationships, and answering the question, “where is my life heading?” are a few examples of where most people feel it’s better to know and, on the surface, it is. But, in my twenty years of work in innovation and changing cultures within companies, and now in my coaching practice, one of the major factors for enabling growth is getting comfortable in saying “I/we don’t know (but let’s try it and see what happens and go from there)”.
We think saying “maybe” is indecisive and being indecisive is not a good thing. I appreciate, a lot of the time, it’s seen that way but I’m not suggesting — think maybe then stop everything forever. I’m saying, think maybe and pause. Live the question. Being definite and fixed to yes or no limits the potential for other things happening and in my experience, trying to force a yes or a no when it’s/you’re not ready is a great, HUGE, source of anxiety. Deep down we know when it’s a full-body yes, we know when it’s a full-body no, and we also know when it’s a full-body maybe. Quite often, it’s the latter (and that’s okay too).
“If it’s not a yes, it’s a no, or not right now”.
We are obsessed with moving forward-go-drive but not making a decision, and in turn not doing anything, is 100% a very valid and valuable option too. Perhaps we experience the “discomfort” of a big fat MAYBE because that’s nature’s way of telling us to slow down. We aren’t getting to a clear yes or no because ‘maybe’ is exactly where we need to be right now. Not making a decision is the thing that will best serve us at this point in our lives.
Getting to grips with living in and with ‘maybe’, waiting for the natural answer to arise by itself, is the thing that has changed my life. It’s full of such exciting potential that it’s daunting, it’s yes AND no! ‘Maybe’ is often the way forward, backward, or sideways which can, at times, feel counter-intuitive but reacting to the discomfort is a habit I had to unlearn. They are all simply directions while living life. Changing one’s relationship, our thought pattern, by getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, and embodying the three answers: yes, no, and maybe, as all being of equal service (they provide direction: go, stop, and pause) was game-changing for me.
The next question on the list for me to ponder is, “If we can’t predict the future, which we can’t, is a yes or a no, technically a maybe anyway?” The word “Yes” in Binary is 01111001 01100101 01110011 and “No” is 01101110 01101111. Written that way, even ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sound like they are still making up their minds…
If you’d like to have a chat about anything that came up for you while reading this and/or coaching around this subject, please get in touch here.