Are you someone who likes to feel in control?
But, the truth is, control is temporary, partial, fleeting.
The world is bigger, wilder, and more spontaneous than anything we can box, package, categorize, or structure.
Every time we face a new situation, something different from what we had planned, or an unexpected turn of events, we must respond fresh, with flexibility and creativity, or we risk disconnecting from the world as it really is.
The greater the desire for control, the more valuable formally seeking out training in being flexible is. And there is no greater training for being flexible than training in improvisation.
The Magic of “Yes, and…”
The number one rule of improv is that you must accept whatever comes your way. Whatever material is presented in a scene or a dance or song must be taken as true for the duration of that piece. When someone makes an offer, puts something out there, the first response is “yes”. For beginning players in a scene, it helps to actually say “yes” as the first spoken response.
The next step is to add new material, the “and” portion. This can be a restriction, an obstacle, or a new direction, but it must be an addition. The power of “and” is that accepting what an other person presents in a scene is that the story can develop; in life, it makes the other person feel validated and heard, which enables them to be more receptive to what you put on the table.
In practice, this can be hugely powerful.
I have young kids who negotiate with me all the time. Often, they are missing a piece of information that makes my position more reasonable than they initially presume. If I use any form of but when I counter them, I get into trouble. They don’t feel like I listen or respect them and they dig their heels in to point out that they are human beings with opinions of their own, which they will defend beyond the point of reason if doing so will preserve their self-esteem. If I can remember to respond to their objection with “yes, and…” before adding the new piece of information, I can often get them join me in trying to solve the initial problem instead of fighting to have me respect them.
Simply accepting what is given is a powerful practice.
See what happens if you find yourself wanting to say “but” in a situation and find the generosity to say “yes, and” instead. What do you notice?