November 10, 2020

Why we need to Learn to Say “Yes” to Ourselves.


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What does it mean to say yes to myself?

Recently, I have been reading my book, Saying Yes to Life: Embracing the Magic and Messiness of the Journey.

Since its release in February of this year, I have been offered the opportunity to practice many of the principles I wrote about.

The year 2020 has been one of the most challenging I have ever experienced. I know I am not alone on this journey of managing the stresses of COVID-19 and the resulting uncertainty of health and finances, and the impact it’s had on relationships and community connection.

As I think about the concept of saying yes to life, I wonder what it might be like to say yes to myself. 

What does it mean to say yes to myself?

1. I see myself as worthy of speaking up for myself and I am aware of my boundaries.

I am clear about my values and I recognize when it is important for me to stand up for them. I want to be sure that my opinions and beliefs are not lost in the process of making a decision or discussing a change with others. When I say no to requests that do not match my principles, I am saying yes to myself.

2. I know what I want and I honour my desires by describing what they are.

I realize that I may not get what I want and I am willing to let go of what happens. The important thing is that I ask for what is important to me, regardless of the outcome.

3. I practice caring for myself.

My schedule for the day includes time for me to pay attention to my needs. This could be a walk outside on my lunch break or a yoga practice after work before I start dinner preparations. This is linked to the concept of “community care.” I am wiling to ask for support from my family, coworkers, or partner, so that I have their help in creating space for my self-care.

4. I am authentic.

I say what I mean and I follow through on my promises to others and myself. I am a person of congruence and integrity.

5. I practice self-compassion.

I speak kindly to myself, as I would to a dear friend. I show love to myself, rather than hurling critical comments and shame-filled words my way.

What is required for me to say yes to myself?

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is a lifelong journey. I often have to remind myself to slow down and pay attention to what is going on for me internally.

Self-awareness gives me choice. It is only when I know what I am thinking or feeling that I have choice in how I respond to a situation. When I am upset by an event, it is easy for me to lash out and say things that are hurtful.

Here is what I want to do instead. I stop myself and check out what is going on within me. I take a deep breath and when I am calm, I get curious, listen carefully, and speak my truth respectfully.

2. Courage

There are fears I face when I think about speaking up for myself. What if I hurt the other person’s feelings? What if I am seen as selfish and uncaring? I have learned that courage means I speak up even if I am afraid, trusting that being true to myself is more important than pleasing others.

3. An understanding of what happens when I do not say yes to myself

When I smother my truth and avoid speaking up, I will feel the effects in my body. Resentment, anger, and repressed emotions all lead to physical symptoms, such as tension in my shoulders and neck, upset stomach, a severe headache, or painful joints. There is also a negative impact on my relationship with others when I do not say yes to myself.

4. Seeing myself as worthy of being heard

This point is linked to self-compassion and loving myself. As I view my contributions and my presence as valuable, I will have the courage to speak up on my behalf.

What are the benefits of saying yes to myself?

1. Freedom to be me. No pretending. What you see is who I am!

2. I view myself as the creator of my experience, rather than a victim of circumstances. This is a powerful stance from which to live life.

3. Clarity in my relationships. Others don’t need to wonder what I want.

4. I model a lifestyle of possibility and powerful choices.

5. I am willing to laugh at myself and give myself permission to be human. I see that this journey called life requires me to forgive myself when I falter, and to celebrate times when I am successful.

6. My relationships deepen, as together we say yes to ourselves and to our friendship.

I am curious what this phrase might mean to you. Saying yes to myself is another way of describing assertiveness. It is a skill that can be learned, and we can practice showing up in this way.

As we practice this, the people in our lives may wonder about our new patterns of relating to them, and we will get even more opportunities to be clear and say yes to ourselves.

I am smiling as I celebrate myself for saying yes to sharing these ideas with you. 

Here’s to saying yes to myself!


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