Jim Carrey Said 'No' To Save His Mental Health — And You Can, Too

Why saying no is actually good for you, according to the famous comedian.

Last updated on Jul 27, 2023

Jim Carrey in front of Hollywood sign Matteo Chinellato | 21 Aerials | Shutterstock

Jim Carrey, the man with a million facial expressions and voices, revealed a new, more serious side that audiences and fans might not have seen.

During a panel discussion in 2017 at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, he was speaking about his upcoming Showtime series I’m Dying Up Here (about the stand-up comedy scene in the ‘70s) when he was asked if he plans to return to the stage himself.


His answer: "I'm in the process of shedding layers of my persona at this time in my life."

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In other words, it seems he's got some thinking and self-discovery he wants to do.

He wasn't trying to be funny, and the truth is sometimes saying "No" really is serious business — especially when it comes to mental health.

In a world where celebrities must remain in the limelight or lose their earning potential, Carrey's statement came as a bit of a surprise to me. I was aware that he has spoken candidly and bravely about his life-long battle with depression and the effect his mental health has had on his relationships.


But I still just couldn't see how an icon like Jim Carrey could remain content behind the scenes — especially when his humor has brought such a unique gift to our world.

I was so caught up debating this in my own thoughts that I continued reading articles about recent events in his life, which brought me to realize how difficult the past few years must have been for him.

I hadn't known that not only had he lost his girlfriend in a tragic suicide towards the end of 2015, but in 2016 he was slammed with a wrongful death lawsuit by her former husband — and then another wrongful death lawsuit by her mother! — all while working on I'm Dying Up Here.

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I can see why he needs a break.

Thinking it all over, I realized that pursuing fame, fortune, and achievements at the expense of one's own mental and physical well-being can never be worth the sacrifice. And his decision isn't any different from that faced by those of us who aren't famous, but who strive to please others or to climb corporate ladders to success in order to gain the almighty dollar.

Yes, we all need money and acknowledgment, but his decision to step back reminded me of these three valuable lessons about saying "No."

Here are 3 valuable lessons about saying 'no' from Jim Carrey:

1. There comes a time when enough is enough

You don't wait for things to get out of control before you look back on your life and say, "No, thanks. I'm good." There's more to life than how many followers you have on social media or who knows your name, and you don't need to wait for anyone to give you permission.


The only person who needs to believe it's time to pause and think is yourself. It's totally OK to simply decide, "I have some thinking to do," and reject an opportunity — especially one that requires a major time commitment.

You don't have to explain yourself either. if Jim Carrey can publicly reject the pressure to perform as no big deal, you certainly don't have to be embarrassed that you don't want to add anything more to your plate at this time.

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2. Even when you say no, you can support others who have said yes

Just because you aren't in the limelight, it doesn't mean you have to stay out of the game altogether. You can still support others.


For Jim Carrey, that means helping other comedians and actors as they pursue their dreams. For you, it could mean mentoring teens or hosting neighborhood hangouts for your children's friends.

The cost of giving comes with a variety of different requirements for everyone, but the whole price doesn't have to be paid in full each time an offer comes to the table. Negotiate what you are willing to do (or not do) as you set boundaries for yourself and give back to the community to which you feel most connected.

3. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should

People who have accomplished something major in their lives often feel pressure from certain social expectations.

When someone goes from being poor to wealthy, society expects that person to be generous. When someone gains knowledge, society expects that person to share their wisdom by teaching others.


There are times when what you have may appear to others to be in abundance, but you just don't have the energy, focus, or time to do with it what you possibly could. Don't be afraid to reject those high expectations imposed on you by others.

There's a time to help — and there's a time to just say "No."

As with all things in life, it's always important to strike a workable balance.

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Aria Gmitter, M.S, M.F.A., is YourTango's Senior Editor of Horoscopes and Spirituality. She studies with the Midwestern School of Astrology and is a member of the South Florida Astrological Association.