Learn How to Say Yes

by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant - Date: 2007-01-23 - Word Count: 1844 Share This!

With the very busy lives we all lead these days, it's no wonder that so many of us are trying to learn how to say "No." There are dozens of books on the subject, including: How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty, Don't Say Yes When You Want to Say No, 201 Ways to Say No Effectively and Gracefully, and How to Say No to Your Toddler. You can even find hundreds of funny ways to say No on the Internet from "I'm sorry, but the annual meeting of People Who Hate Meetings is that night" to "I can't, I have to floss my iguana's teeth."

It is important to say No, of course. Without No, we end up overextended, pleasing others but ignoring our own needs and goals. But it's just as important to say Yes. Yes opens us up to new possibilities, it helps up learn to take the kinds of risks we need to take to grow and change, and it provides us with surprises we'd otherwise miss out on. By becoming a Yes-Woman under the right circumstances, you will find more joy, courage, and fulfillment than you ever found in being a naysayer.

Just Say Yes to Doing Something Rash - Twelve years ago I was working full time for a university in Texas, a job I had had for almost a decade. I loved my job, but was beginning to find it a little stale and overly-familiar. I decided to take a much-needed vacation to the Pacific Northwest, a place I'd always found myself inextricably attracted to. My husband and I spent a week driving across Washington and Oregon and on the last day on a lark decided to look at houses in a small town in Oregon. Two hours before we were scheduled to catch our return flight, we were sitting in a realtor's office putting a down payment on a house.

By the time we were on our plane headed back home, I was sure we were nuts. No one buys a house clear across country on a whim! It wasn't like we could afford a vacation home - we were going to have to quit our jobs, pack up all our things and move to a place where we knew no one and had no prospects. I was just about to pull out the air sickness bag to stop hyperventilating when the stranger sitting in the seat across the aisle asked me what was wrong. I explained the situation (why is it we're always comfortable discussing our problems with strangers on a plane?) and he

Saying Yes to that house changed everything, not just where we lived. I became self-employed as a writer, speaker, and stand-up comic. I made new friends - friends with whom I can spend time because of my less-hectic career path. I eventually got divorced, but it was a good thing for both of us, and given the inner strength we had developed by saying Yes to something unplanned and totally unexpected, we knew we could face the unknowns that lay ahead of us. Being open to things that seem rash and impulsive not only adds spice to your life, it will teach you how to handle life when rash and impulsive things are handed to you over which you have no control. And that's a life skill we could all use more of!

Just Say Yes to Facing Your Fears Head On - Pat is the mother of a military son who is deployed in Iraq. Before he shipped out for his first tour of duty, his parting words to her were "Mom, keep your head in the right direction." Despite her own fears for his safety, she decided the right direction for her would be to start a Military Family Support Group in her hometown in Missouri. "It stretched me beyond my normal comfort zone. The idea of a support group was not a new one because as an elementary school counselor, I facilitated them all the time, but only with young children. Translating my skills to adults seemed daunting… But it kept me busy and away from the television set as the war began in March 2003. And it put me in touch with many people who were in the same scary place I found myself in, that is, loving someone who was willing to step outside his comfort zone into harm's way to protect his country."

Pat's support group celebrated its third anniversary in March. Her son is back home from Iraq, and what used to seem outside her comfort zone became her refuge. By listening to her son's words of wisdom and refusing to sit home alone worrying, she has not only become better able to handle the daily stress of living with her own fears, but she has helped others do the same. Saying Yes to the things that scare you can do the same for you.

Just Say Yes to Something You Said No To A Long Time Ago - Often we make decisions early in our lives and think we have to live with them forever. When they first got married, Belinda, an administrative assistant in Houston, Texas, and her husband decided that they did not want to have children. She said she didn't feel she needed to have children to complete herself and never regretted the decision. But after her divorce many years later when her mother's health started to fail, Belinda had a big choice to make - whether or not to take in the seventh grade teenage boy her mom had committed to raising but was unable to care for.

"The decision has made a dramatic impact on my life," Belinda says. "I knew that taking on a teenager would have its share of challenges, but luckily I've been blessed with a good guy. The main impact is had had on my life is the feeling of personal satisfaction, knowing I'm making an impact on someone else's life. Sharing and giving were always a part of my life, but I too, have received much from this young man and my black Lab. Both were sent to me for a good reason."

Deciding to say Yes to something you said No to when you were younger is a great way to open up your life to new things. Whether you go to college or look up an old love on the Internet, revisiting past choices gives you a chance to live more fully.

Just Say Yes to Letting Go Your Rules - After my divorce, I slowly re-entered the dating arena, including a brief foray into Internet dating. When I had to fill in a survey identifying what I wanted in a relationship, I realized I had fairly rigid "rules" for any man I'd even consider letting in my life. He had to be a college graduate, a professional of some sort, in my political party, sensitive, a dog-lover, good dancer, etc. Although I wasn't actively looking for another husband - in fact, I'd all but decided not to get married again - the guys I went out all more or less fit my requirements. And none of them sparked my interest.

One night I was out dancing and I got up the nerve to ask a guy who had caught my eye to dance. He passed that test with flying colors. Later that night we had a long conversation during which I discovered that was the only one of my rules he fit. He had finished high school but never gone to college. He had worked as a welder his entire life, was a member of the opposite political party, was more of a macho man than a sensitive guy, and although he liked dogs, he didn't consider them the center of the universe as I do.

But for some reason I said Yes to a second date. Maybe because he wasn't a carbon copy of me. And a few months later, I said Yes when he asked me to marry him. As it turns out, he's one of the smartest men I've ever known (which taught me that it doesn't take a college degree to be intelligent), he votes the same way I do on issues I think are important, is actually both macho and sensitive (a great combination), and has learned to love my dogs almost as much as I do.

There are many parts of our lives that are governed by our own set of narrow rules. You may have rules for your children that are preventing them from doing what they really want with their lives. Rules for the types of jobs you're willing to consider. Rules for your husband that interfere with your relationship. Rules for your friends and family. Saying no to your rules and yes to people and things that break them can make your life much more interesting and fulfilling.

Just Say Yes to The Impossible - Jan Eliot was raising her two daughters ages 6 and nine by herself and barely keeping her head above water. As a form of therapy, she started cartooning and soon her cartoons were carried in a local news weekly. Despite having a full time job and a second full time job as a mother, she wondered whether she could become a full-time cartoonist and work from home. Her efforts were met with rejection after rejection. Big papers, tiny papers, big syndicates, tiny syndicates all turned her down. As she says, "Every editor I contacted found a unique way to tell me I wasn't going to make it… Even Charles Schulz, whom I badgered for feedback and advice, told me that, frankly, I didn't draw very well."

But Jan persisted, developing characters straight from her own life late at night after the girls were in bed. For sixteen years, she pursued publishers and improved her skills, never listening to the people who told her it would never happened. Little successes along the way, such as finding out the Charles Schulz was beginning to like her work, kept her going. "When a salesman from Universal Press Syndicate called me to tell me how much he liked my work, I cried. This year, I'll celebrate ten years as the creator of the syndicated daily comic strip, Stone Soup. It appears in 130 papers in eight countries. There are four books with a fifth coming out soon. It took me sixteen years to get here, but I never doubt that it was worth it."

Learning to say yes to your own inner voice even when everyone else's tells you No is a life skill no one should be without. It's one of the things we try to instill in our children, and yet many of us pay too much attention to the people who tell us our dreams aren't possible. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." Just as importantly, you must do the thing others say you cannot do.

Go ahead and say Yes more often. You'll find yourself wandering down paths that provide you deep fulfillment and achieving dreams you may not even have known you had!

Related Tags: motivation, adventure, attitude, inspiration, self-improvement, positive, risk-taking, yes

Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant is a humor and stress management expert. Visit her website at http://www.accidentalcomic.com

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