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The Courage to Say Yes

By Rev. Alesia Matson, D.D.

In a culture full of reasons to say ``no,'' it takes a lot of courage

to find ways to say ``yes.''

We're taught to say ``no'' from a very young age, after all. For

most of us, our first word was ``no'', and it quickly became our

favorite word. As toddlers and teenagers, we used ``no'' to

differentiate ourselves from our parents, peers, and surroundings.

It's how we began to control what was happening around us, or at

least, how we tried to control that. It helped us over those

early developmental hurdles, and gave us our earliest sense of our

personal boundaries -- and that's a lot of significance bound up in

such a tiny word!

The problem isn't that ``no'' in and of itself is somehow bad; indeed,

giving yourself permission to say "no" as an adult can keep you out of

an awful lot of trouble.

The problem is that ``No'' begins to take on a life of its own. Too

often, that life is yours.

Life is change, and ``no'' becomes a way of slowing down that

change, or trying to stop it altogether. It is a shield we use to

protect ourselves from having to experience anything new or different.

Rather than riding the wave of change into a life full of exhilarating

possibilities, we use ``no'' as a tether to keep us safely confined to

the kiddie pool.

Using ``no'' to protect ourselves from change is like a kitten poking

its head under covers, assuming it's completely hidden. Change is

going to happen, whether you say "no" to it or not. And, just like

that kitten, assuming that "no" protects you from change is one sure

way to have it pounce on you and bite your tail.

Let's be honest here: We usually say ``no'' out of fear, and some fears are entirely reasonable. I't's sensible to say ``no'' to jumping off a bridge or ``no'' to cake if you are diabetic. These ``no's'' aren't the ones that keep us from living lives of incredible satisfaction and happiness. It's those silly, neurotic fears like fearing rejection, or of looking stupid, or being wrong. It's the fear of commitment, the fear of speaking out, and the fear of facing our truest, deepest desires. The list is nauseatingly long, and we've all bought into some of these at least once. These fears have shaped our lives, often to our detriment and sometimes to the detriment of those around us.

So the next time you're faced with something new and exciting and

all those little neurotic fears start rioting inside you, what does it

take to fight down a ``no'' and say ``yes'' instead?

In a word: Courage.

Like the Cowardly Lion (an archetype for the fear-ridden) we need

to find our courage. Unlike him, we know that we have to face our

fears, and find our courage within. Inside each of us beats a brave,

fiercely courageous heart, willing to take on a challenge if it means

that life afterward will be more authentic, happier, and freer. What

better challenges to tackle than the fears that keep us chained to our

tiny, boring, closeted little lives?

Do yourself a favor: Right now, identify and tackle at least one of those inner fears. Find a reason to say "yes" today, and every day. You've only your inner coward to lose!

About The Author
Rev. Dr. Alesia Matson is co-founder of "Reasons to Say Yes!", a community of like-minded souls who are determined not to allow internal fears to limit or inhibit the broad range of joyous experiences available to them in this life. She teaches andwrites articles on meditation and personal development, and is the author of "7 Mysteries: Contemplative Arts for the Modern Mystic." (

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