Back to Back Issues Page
Insights: Yes, No, But...
September 09, 2008

Yes, No, But...

“After all is said and done,
a lot more will have been said than done.”

- Author Unknown

One of the funniest T-Shirts I ever saw had the classic South Africanism ‘Jawellnofine’ emblazoned across the back. It needed someone with pretty broad shoulders to wear it!

The ability to answer a question with the words “Yes” and “No…” used in short succession, has to be a uniquely South African thing!

You know what I mean. There’s the positive form…

“Hi Tom, are you going to the game tomorrow?”

“Yes, no, of course!”

Or the negative form…

“So Carol, what do you think of the economy?”

“Yes, no, it seems to be going from bad to worse!”

And then there’s what I would call the ‘action avoidance’ form…

“Hi Bill, have you started on your Spring fitness programme yet?”

“Yes, no, but the weather has been so awful, I haven’t had a chance!”

[And, in case you’re wondering, that was my very own response to a question from my daughter recently!],

Saying nothing

The “YES, NO, BUT…” option is commonly used to explain one’s lack of action on a particular issue. It’s a variation of the amusing classic ‘Jawellnofine’ that was designed as a way of saying absolutely nothing in four syllables!

Taking inspired action when it’s clearly called for is something we preach in life coaching. But inspiration is often not enough of a catalyst to ensure action.

Fear Factor

The truth is that many people ignore (that is fail to take action on) terrific opportunities that are presented to them from time to time throughout their lives, simply because they’re scared of the change that that opportunity might bring about!

It’s far easier to come up with a good ‘YES, NO, BUT…’ reason why they can’t or shouldn’t take any action.

The pain of change

It’s human nature to resist change.


Because most of us are conditioned to associate change with ‘pain’ of some form or other.

Take my own little problem. The delaying tactics I have knowingly employed to my much needed exercise routine can be put down, fairly and squarely, to the ‘pain’ that my brain associates with getting fit again after a winter lay-off.

I imagine, all too vividly, the discomfort of starting up regular exercise again – the physical soreness and stiffness and the weighing-scale embarrassment that’s all part and parcel of the change I need to embrace.

The bad weather seems like a great excuse not to confront that ‘pain’ just yet!

Now this is a simple example of an issue that challenges all of us.

The dichotomy

You see, while our brains are programmed to resist change - as a defense mechanism against the ‘pain’ that we perceive will accompany it - change and variety are essential elements of a happy, vibrant and fulfilling life.

Effectively managing this apparent dichotomy requires us to be prepared to ‘re-programme’ our minds. And for some, it requires more adjustment than for others.

Radio Ga-Ga

Think about a conventional radio set.

It has three main knobs or dials (bear with me – this radio was built before the digital age!). One dial is labelled ‘Tune’ and the other two are labelled ‘Treble’ and ‘Bass’. When you tune into a programme you need to experiment with the Treble and Bass dials until the sound of the radio station you have tuned to is at its best for you. Let’s call that the ‘sweetspot’.

Now, imagine for a moment that your mind is like a radio set. It’s capable of auto-tuning to special opportunities that can dramatically improve your life if you can just ‘hear’ them clearly enough. Instead of Treble and Bass dials, though, your mind has dials marked ‘Pleasure’ and ‘Pain’ that are preset to certain levels.

As a natural protection against over- zealousness that could do the individual more harm than good, the preset favours ‘pain’ over ‘pleasure’ – so it is quite normal for people to associate more ‘pain’ with opportunities than they do pleasure.

In some people the ‘presets’ are overly conservative! In other words, their minds completely overplay the ‘change-is-painful’ association, to the point where they become almost moribund – unable to take advantage of the smallest opportunity to change and improve for fear of the pain that will result.

Changing the presets

The good news is that we can change our ‘presets’ such that we each find our own unique ‘sweetspots’. In so doing, tuned-in opportunities will look far more attractive (we associate more pleasure and less pain with the anticipated change) and we will become more inclined to take the action necessary to improve our lives.

The secret to ‘turning down our pain dials’ and ‘turning up our pleasure dials’ to find the ‘sweetspot’ lies in a critical evaluation of our belief system (and sometimes our entire value structure).

Let’s revisit my simple example.

My inner self knows that it’s time for me to get off my butt and get back into a regular exercise regime. But my pain dial has been turned up too high and it’s preventing me from taking the action needed. Instead, I am (at least outwardly) quite content to avoid going to the gym or taking up running again – and I steadily get more overweight and less healthy.

Adjusting the dials

To turn down my ‘pain dial’ and turn up my ‘pleasure dial’, I need to examine, and where necessary, replace my limiting beliefs about the effects of exercise. I need to condition my brain to skip visualizing sore, aching muscles and standing on a weighing scale where the needle quickly zooms into the red area. Instead, I need to ‘future pace’ to imaginary scenes of a lighter, fitter, healthier me whooping for joy and punching the air as I stand on the scale!

If you want to read more about limiting beliefs and how they affect us, read the newsletter from a fortnight ago, called ‘Beliefs – Power or Problem?’ (You can access back issues of Insights from the relevant link at the bottom of the page).

I’m sure you get my point. We stand in the way of our own forward movement. It’s all in the mind. But the mind being the mind, we often need the assistance of tools, techniques and support systems to deal with it effectively!

Life Coaching

That’s exactly where life coaching comes in.

If you have a passion for helping other people be the best they can be and a burning desire to unlock your own barriers to personal freedom, confidence and growth, the New Insights Life Coach Training Programme could be just what you’re looking for.

If you think so too, take the first step to inspired action.

Contact me today!

I’d love to hear from you.

With warm regards


Copyright New Insights Africa. All rights reserved

New Insights Africa Life Coaching Skills Training - Putting an Extraordinary Business within reach of Passionate People.

If you think you are Life Coach material why not study, at your own pace and in your own time, with New Insights Africa? If you have the passion, we have the skills, knowledge and support to offer you. Please visit our website.

If a friend forwarded you this newsletter and you would like to subscribe please click on the link below:

Subscribe to Insights

Back to Back Issues Page