Saying YES to Things That Scare Us


Juiiana Ochoa, MS, LMHC

Saying YES (and also No, when necessary).


You may recognize the name Shonda Rhimes as the creator of the shows Greys Anatomy and Scandal. A few years ago, she wrote a book, “Year of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun, and Be Your Own Person.” She talks about how she challenged herself to make a conscious decision to say YES to things that would normally scare her. I remember an interview where she shared that she had this epiphany thanks to something her sister said to her once- “All you do is work, you never have any fun, you never go anywhere, you never do anything. You never say Yes to anything.” What her sister said really stuck with her; frustrating her initially and later motivating her to consider how true it was.


If you say No to things because they do not bring you joy, that is one thing. If you find that you are saying No to things because they scare you, where is that coming from? Without bringing judgment to it, it could be helpful to get curious and consider what is holding you back from saying Yes to life experiences you actually want to say Yes to.


Something else to sit with is this question: Are you someone who never says Yes to what you really want, but say Yes to things you don’t necessarily want to say Yes to? One of my thoughts when I first heard of this book was, “Well, what about the people who say Yes too much, say Yes to things they don’t want to say Yes to?” And to people out there who sometimes feel pressured to go down this road, I offer you this line from Shonda: “I am sorry, No, I am not able to do that.” It can be really hard to say that to people, especially without feeling like you need to give an explanation for why you are saying no. I encourage you to try it and notice the discomfort for about ten seconds, and how that eventually fades and you can breathe a little easier. In the process, you also have not agreed to something that might even build resentment down the road. It’s a difficult exercise, but a worthwhile one.


Try to consider how much peace and freedom you can bring into your life if you said YES to things you want to do, and No to things that you are not interested in. This is something we can all learn to do, and with conscious effort and practice, get comfortable with. It can be very anxiety-provoking and even paralyzing at times. But it is doable. It is human to be terrified at times, but we don’t need to let that keep us from doing the things we want to do in and with our lives.


If saying YES (and saying No) is something you need a little help with practicing, our therapists at Life Skills Resource Group are here for you.  Call 407-355-7378 for a free consultation.




Juliana Ochoa