The fear of saying ‘Yes’

Picture of Dr Lisa Turner

Dr Lisa Turner

World renowned visionary, author, high-performance mindset trainer for coaches to elevate skills, empower clients to achieve their maximum potential

The fear of saying yes, or FOSY, can be a significant barrier to personal and professional growth.

It is a common tendency to worry about saying yes to new opportunities, particularly if there is a risk of failing or looking silly. However, it is important to remember that saying yes to new experiences can lead to new skills, knowledge, and personal growth. Here are some tips for banishing FOSY in 2023:

  1. Reframe your perspective: Instead of seeing new opportunities as risks, try to view them as chances to learn and grow. Harbouring fears of failing means you are more focused on what might go wrong rather than what might go right. Embrace the idea that it is okay to make mistakes, as they can often be valuable learning experiences. I keep things in perspective by reminding myself that even if it doesn’t work out to plan, that no small children will die if I give this a go. Unless you’re doing something that ACTUALLY DOES endanger small children!
  2. Break it down into micro-goals: It can be intimidating to say yes to something that seems out of reach. You can say yes to the big thing, but not have to do it ALL today. By setting micro goals that move you to the end result, you can build confidence in your ability to succeed and be more inclined to take on new challenges. Every time you have a small win, you also get a chemical cascade in the brain that gives you a positive energy boost to move to the next micro goal.
  3. “The person who never made a mistake, never made anything” –Engineering proverb. When I worked as a research and development engineer, mistakes were encouraged. Provided we learned from them. Once I broke an £80,000 test rig. As I stood shaking, looking at the damaged parts, my line manager came up to me and said “What did you learn?” and kept asking that till I had stopped shaking. Then he asked “How do we fix this?” We then worked out that the damage was far less than I’d first imagined and found that replacing a few minor parts was all that was needed. Anytime you make a mistake or things don’t go as planned, ask yourself – “What have I learned?”
  4. Let go of your fear of looking silly. If your primary motivation in life is to “look good” or avoid looking silly, then you’re placing more importance on other people’s opinions of you than on your happiness, growth and success. In practice, most people aren’t thinking about you at all! And if they are, it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as bad as you imagine.
  5. It is the natural drive of humans to seek to grow, and learn and evolve. We do that by trying new things, and stepping out of our comfort zones. If you say no now, the desire to try something new will only keep coming back again and again. So, you might as well try something new now rather than later. One of the biggest regrets of people later in life is that they didn’t say yes more often.
  6. It might be worth exploring any feelings of low self-worth or limiting beliefs about being good enough. Conscious Emotional transformation is a modality that can clear limiting beliefs in a matter of hours, even if you’ve had them for years and tried other therapies.

You can banish FOSY and be more open to the possibilities that come your way. Remember, saying yes to new experiences can lead to personal and professional growth, and it is an essential step towards building a fulfilling and successful life. You will ONLY grow by stretching yourself. It keeps your brain, body and soul young and inspired.

Dr Lisa Turner


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