I have this friend who’s a body language expert. She used to work for the government training agents on interrogation techniques and how to read non-verbal clues. Now she runs her own business and goes on cable news shows to explain what Putin’s funny posture means or what Jennifer Lawrence is really saying when she picks her nose and rolls her eyes. It’s a pretty sweet gig she’s got and it’s always fun to hang out with her in a bar and play, “What’s going on with them?” with couples I point out to her across the room.
Anyway, I was on the phone with her the other day and I was pestering her with questions like I always do about this stuff. Can you really tell when someone is lying? What should I do with my hands in a job interview? How does your husband feel about being married to a human lie detector?
At one point she tells me about this little move that often means someone is hyper-focused on consequences. And she perfectly described what I was doing right at that moment! In fact, it’s a thing I do all the time. And I’m totally over-focused on consequences! I’m not going to tell you what this move is because I don’t need people telling me every time I start tic-ing out. But I can say with absolute conviction that a large part of my life has been spent calculating all the possible consequences of every decision I make.
I’m sure if I wrote down a complete timeline of my life a good therapist could point out where every tic, twitch and habit began and how it helped me get through whatever weird event was happening at the time. I won’t go into how even after all these years I still I have to count the number of stairs to the parking lot to my front door (8 x 2 which is different than 16). And I’m not going to explain how sometimes I have to take a breath in just the right way before I can ask a stranger in the grocery store if I can reach around them to grab a turnip. In fourth grade I drove Mrs. Karabelnikov crazy because I had to make a secret high-pitched whine while she wrote on the blackboard. I never told her who was making that noise because I knew she wouldn’t understand that I would die if I couldn’t make that sound whenever she picked up a piece of chalk.
What I can tell you is that the King Daddy of all these annoying habits is my baseless conviction that doom is around every corner. Not a day goes by when I don’t convince myself that I’m going to lose my job, hurt my friends, or contract some sort of respiratory illness that puts me in an iron lung. In the coal mine of life my canary is always dead.
If these thoughts just stayed in my head and didn’t affect how I walked though the world I could handle it. But inevitably they manifest themselves in a single word that I’ve used more than any other in my life.
No, I don’t think so. No, I can’t do that. No, I better not.
I’ve said no so many times I feel like I need some kind of physical therapy to learn how to say yes. I can tell you exactly how many times I’ve said said yes since 2010. Three. Once when I decided to keep Fresh Ground Stories running after the woman who started it had to move out of state for work. Another time was when I swallowed my fear and agreed to host TEDxOlympia and coach all the speakers. The most important yes I ever said was when I finally broke down and asked for help one night when all the fears I’d kept inside came roaring out of my head and pinned me to the floor of my apartment.
But that’s all I got. Three yes’s since 2010. I’m trying to teach myself to say yes more often but it’s hard to turn the emotional Titanic around once you’ve built up speed.
This is where you guys come in. I’d like to hear stories about what happened when you said yes. Come to FGS on June 23 and share some stories about how saying yes to something turned out for you. I don’t even care if it turned out bad. Just saying yes is powerful in its own way and even if everything went off the rails afterward you must have learned something if you’re still here to talk about it.
So that’s the theme of this month’s show: Saying Yes – Stories of jumping in.
Here are the updated Rules & Guidelines for telling a story at the show:
Remember to keep it clean, practice out loud on friends or pets, and make sure it’s under 8 minutes.
I hope to see you at our next show on Thursday, June 23, 7:00pm at the Roy St Cafe.