This article will explore how your choice of words influences your experiences with anxiety. One of the most common symptoms I see with anxiety is a lack of commitment to follow through with any activity. This habit becomes so persistent that the anxious person often commits to not committing without knowing it. This can happen unintentionally as a result of a mindset that had developed over the years. A person with anxiety can become wired to avoid any situations associated with pain or struggle.
This is a problem. An anxious person can be so focused on avoiding risk that he or she ends up with a resume of accomplishing nothing meaningful in life.
If left unaddressed, this avoidance attitude can lead to depression.
One of the first things I bring attention to with clients struggling with anxiety is their use of words. Typically, my clients will utilize non-committal words when talking about the future.
Q: “Will you be attending the event tomorrow night?”
By answering “maybe” the anxious person has expertly avoided a commitment. He may or may not follow through with showing up. Furthermore, he has avoided a possible conflict with the invitee by not saying “no.”
Now if the invitee really desires the anxious person’s presence at the event, he might follow up with a statement along the lines of, “It would really be nice if you show up because we were really looking forward to speaking with you.” To which the anxious person might respond with, “well, I don’t know, probably, we will see.”
The continued vagueness is designed to get the invitee to give up on the invitation and prevent having to go through any emotional difficulty. If the invitee gives up, there will be no conflict, and there will be no anxiety-provoking event to deal with.
Commitment Focused Words
The process of transitioning from an anxious mindset to a more confident mindset begins with making a commitment to stop using avoidance words. A little work must be done here. First, we need to identify words and phrases that place him in a position of not committing.
Words like “maybe”, “probably” and “I don’t know”, will have to be replaced with, “yes”, “no”, or “I do not know, but I will look into it.” These types of phrases, especially, “yes,” or “no” forces the anxious person to come face to face with the possible conflicts he has often avoided. Try it out even just mentally, there is a difference in power behind a clear yes and a clear no in comparison to maybe or I don’t know …
Mind Over Matter
Most of the time, when an anxious person commits to an answer in his head, he has already won half the battle. He has just exposed himself to an anxiety-provoking thought and then overcame it. He or she made a commitment to follow through, regardless of how bad the anxiety gets.
When people who struggle with anxiety use commitment-based words, they are now forced to think of effective strategies for engaging in situations which they find anxiety provoking.
By the time someone who struggles with anxiety has committed to following through with desensitization exercises, the battle has already been won. This is because using commitment-based words forces him to confront his anxiety related feelings. Over time, the anxiety will reduce.
If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call me or fill out my contact form and click send.