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Use This Acronym to Deal with Anxiety-Provoking People

November 28, 2019 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Dealing with anxiety-provoking people can be incredibly stressful and nerve-racking, but you can reduce your anxiety while you're interacting with others in any situation. This tool for handling anxiety-provoking people is an acronym. To remain calm in any interaction, be a BLOBB. 

Be a BLOBB to Respond to Anxiety-Provoking People

Anxiety has a way of taking over the brain. When we can interfere in the brain's reactions, we can calm the mind and better relate to people in all situations, whether peaceful or tense. 

"BLOBB" stands for five actions to take and attitudes to adopt that will help you respond to people who intensify your anxiety:

  • Boundaries
  • Listen
  • Openness
  • Body scan
  • Breathe

Boundaries--These are intangible but powerful lines separating one person from another. Imagine yourself as one of those chalk outlines kids enjoy drawing (better yet, lie down on a sidewalk or driveway and have someone trace you with chalk). Study the shape. "You" are inside the lines. Other people are outside the lines and inside their own lines. There are a lot of lines and space separating you from anyone else. You are in charge of what you let inside your boundaries. You can interact with someone while maintaining yourself. You can see them and hear them without letting them invade your boundaries and sense of yourself. Remembering boundaries lets you remain true to yourself. 

Listen--Knowing that you don't have to make another person's words a part of you allows you to remain present in anxious conversations and to listen to the other person. Often, the simple (but not easy) act of genuinely listening to another can de-escalate a problematic situation. So often, we tune in to our fear and worry instead of to the person. We react because we're caught up in thinking of what we're going to say rather than listening and responding to the words. Remember your boundaries: another person's words aren't yours, and then participate in the conversation by listening and responding. 

Openness--When you listen fully, you give yourself a chance to remain open. Knowing you have boundaries and can remain yourself helps make openness less threatening. Consider another person's thoughts and ideas. They might be helpful. Because you have the option to use those ideas or dismiss them, your anxiety can decrease drastically when dealing with anxiety-provoking people. 

Body scan--When we're in stressful situations, the brain activates the fight-or-flight response. Whether you unconsciously prepare to fight (verbal spars count) or flee (avoidance is really common when it comes to anxiety-provoking people), your body tenses and all body systems shift to a different pattern. When you're interacting with someone and feeling anxious, periodically scan your body starting at your feet and working your way up. Relax your muscles and breathe deeply as you go. 

Breathe--Do this slowly and deeply before, during, and after your interaction. Doing so causes changes in the brain that override anxiety and stress.

Become a Mindful BLOBB to Reduce Anxiety Causes by People

The more you use these tools, the more easily you'll become and remain a BLOBB. You probably won't like dealing with anxiety-provoking people, but you'll be able to do it calmly and with less anxiety

Another helpful tool for this is mindfulness. I invite you to tune into the video to learn about using mindfulness to deal with people that cause stress and anxiety. 

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, November 28). Use This Acronym to Deal with Anxiety-Provoking People, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/11/use-this-acronym-to-deal-with-anxiety-provoking-people



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson delivers online and in-person mental health education for students in elementary and middle school. She is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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