The most powerful words in your vocabulary.

Yes and No.

For those of us with anxiety we often go with “yes” because it relieves the immediate chance for stress. When someone is asking you something, when you say yes, you are giving them what they want. More often then not this means they will leave you alone to sort out what the yes response means.

Sadly “yes” often means more on us. We have more work to do, we have expectations to fill, we have the burden of attempting to gauge expectations pertaining to the yes response. It’s a potent word, it can be empowering, if yes lends you to a leverage position. Using leverage isn’t always an attractive option for those of us with anxiety. We feel bad, rightfully or wrongly.

The more powerful word is no. No absolves you from responsibility for the other persons desire. Simply put, when you say no you are free. Free from the constraints of expectations of others. While it is more powerful then yes, it thus has the requisite anxiety attached. You are not pleasing the other person, you are not satiating them, they may press and ask for more.

No can directly lead to conflict, moral, ethical, spiritual, personal, relationship on and on. It is a dangerous word for those of us with anxiety. When we say no, we open ourselves up for mental exercises that can lead to crippling anxiety, I know I’ve experienced it.

I am starting to use “no” more and it’s been pretty cathartic. It makes my “yes” responses much more powerful and I feel better about it when I do. I find I am asked to do less, and the more I do the more it is appreciated. Using the “yes” response devalued my contributions, it was expected, and it increased my anxiety a great deal. “No” seems so negative, but it truly isn’t, at least not for me.

Which of these two powerful words do you use most often?

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