What are they? Yes and No.
It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, if you have 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 than not this means they will leave you alone to sort out what the yes response means. The pressure is off and that is the immediate need met, the source of the anxiety is gone, for now.
Sadly “yes” often means more on us. We have more work to do, we have expectations to fill, and 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 leads you to a leverage position that can be a difference maker in just about every interaction you have. 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 person’s desire. Simply put, when you say no you are free from the constraints of expectations of others. Because it is more powerful then yes, it thus has more anxiety attached. You are not pleasing the other person, you are not satiating them, and they may press and ask for more. When you use the no word it 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. The thought of this outcome sends many of us into the pit of woe that is anxiety. Look mental health isn’t a simple equation, breaking things down to “Yes and No” may seem silly, but these two words are extremely important we have to consider the ramifications of saying either or.
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?