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Can using one little word really save us from the quicksands of anxiety ?

Updated: Jan 20, 2019

How many times have we said 'Yes' to situations we would much rather have said 'No'?

For your average anxiety- free person such errors wouldn't be the major quicksands that our minds make them, so for us saying 'No' first and foremost, not having to go back and repair the mistake is paramount.

Let's look at the anxiety tree that can grow out of such a simple error but firstly we should look at why it happens in the first place. I am with a good friend and their friend that I don't know that well. They ask me over to dinner with my better friend. I say yes. I don't know why I say yes as I don't know them, their house, or least of all the friends that I will be there with. However I walk away assured that all will be well. I have no idea where the evidence for this being well is however, as it certainly hasn't been that way in living memory !

It is added to the anxiety bank and as the day approaches it ramps up to the top of the list, increasing in intensity like an Atlantic Hurricane sat over the tropics. I know I have to say "No, I'm sorry I just can't come" and I would love to be honest but I cant , so therefore I have to make an excuse blah blah blah and my anxiety speak becomes all consuming.

Rewind. Good friends friend asks me for dinner. I pause and say "No can do, sorry' . (The End )

As they say in the exam rooms, 'compare and contrast'. The difference is the pause. The difference is a response not a reaction .

I have a mantra. 'First thought, second thought, third thought.' My first is to say Yes' as it is what I think I am supposed to be saying. My second thought ( If I allow there to be one ) is usually "Do you really want to say yes ?" in which case my third can be either 'No' or 'Yes', but done so with thought rather than reaction.

Learning to pause (it can be a second or just seconds ) can save us from an anxiety spiral that preoccupies and exhausts us. No is a complete sentence. Just that word with no need to back it up with excuses and reasons why can save us weeks of struggling in an ever deepening sand pit.

Reacting and responding. Two paths out of the same problem.

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