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Change the Anxiety Words in Your Vocabulary

The anxiety words you use control how you think and feel. Change that by changing the anxiety words in your vocabulary. Learn what to replace them with here.

You can use words as a tool to conquer anxiety by changing the anxiety words in your vocabulary. The saying is true: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Fighting anxiety, struggling, and thrashing against it keeps your energy and focus on anxiety. But how can you replace fighting — with your words. Specifically, change the anxiety words in your vocabulary. Changing how you think will change how you act, how you are, and how you live.

The pen is mightier than the sword. —Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The following words represent key concepts. The first batch includes some of the words that describe what anxiety is and what it does to you. The second set contains some very important words to make part of your vocabulary when talking about yourself and your life—your anxiety-free self and anxiety-free life.

Remove These Anxiety Words from Your Vocabulary

This is the thing about words and anxiety: Anxiety has words, and it uses those words to control you. Anxiety is strongly associated with anxious thoughts (words), and these automatic negative thoughts try to control your emotions and actions.

Here are just a few anxiety words:

Worry: The act of running distressing, negative thoughts (words) through your mind over and over again

Fear: Thoughts of harm, big or small, that keep you frozen in place

“What if:” Imagined scenarios, created by anxiety, that make you think of terrible possibilities and horrible endings of anything you’re remotely involved in

Overthinking: Words and feelings that roll around in your mind without stopping, increasing worry and creating more anxious thoughts in the process

Inadequacy: Anxiety’s shouts that tell you that you’re not good enough—at anything

Guilt: If it’s bad, or if you just think it’s bad, it’s your fault according to anxiety

Removing these words will go a long way in loosening anxiety’s grip on you. Arguing and fighting with these words won’t work. You’re playing anxiety’s game by repeating the anxiety words and getting them more embedded in your head.

What will work is to use your own words.

Replace Anxiety Words with These Words

This is the thing about words and you: You have the ability to think for yourself. You don’t have to listen to the words of anxiety. However, if you don’t have your own vocabulary, you can’t change anxiety’s words. Good thing you can develop your anti-anxiety dictionary.

The following terms for your anxiety-free dictionary are a sampling of all of the words you can think and live. Any one of these terms can be used to erase any of the anxiety words above.

Acceptance: The act of acknowledging that anxiety (or guilt or fear etc.) exists, letting it be while gently turning away from it so you aren’t chained to it

Action: Taking small (or big) steps every day to move toward your goals and quality life (If the pen is mightier than the sword, actions speak louder than words—but words do dictate your actions)

Efficacy: An empowering word that is like self-confidence but even more; it’s believing in who you are and also in what you can do even despite obstacles like anxiety

Grit: The strength, determination, resilience, and perseverance to create the life you want no matter how loudly anxiety says you can’t

Meaning: Knowing what makes your life worth living despite struggles like anxiety, and using this meaning and sense of purpose to take action

Flow: The state of being fully present in what you’re doing and enjoying something so much that your anxious thoughts drop away while you’re engaged

Anxiety has no power over your words. Your new vocabulary describes what it takes to transcend anxiety. Transcending means not fighting but rising above it to live well anyway.

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of four critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges as well as a self-help book on acceptance and commitment therapy. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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