What Not to Say (and What to Say Instead) to Someone Struggling With Anxiety

What Not to Say (and What to Say Instead) to Someone Struggling With Anxiety October 4, 2021Leave a comment

“Anxiety is really about the level of uncertainty in a situation and our sense of our capability to handle it,” says Dr Nicole Beurkens in a podcast interview with Mind Body Green .

The Typical Response (When Someone is Feeling Low):

When someone is feeling low, it isn’t unusual to hear someone else say things like:

  • ‘Don’t worry about it.’
  • ‘Everything will be okay.’

Whether we’ve been the ones saying these words or been the ones receiving them, the sentiment is the same. They are words of comfort. Though often very little comfort is gained from these words. It could be that the speaker didn’t know what to say, and was soothing him/herself just as much. The speaker may have been well-intentioned, not wanting the receiver to feel poorly, and perhaps didn’t know how to really react to the situation.

An Alternate, Empowering Response:

Instead of the response we have been conditioned to say, here is a new one you can learn:

You can say – either to yourself (if you are self-soothing) or someone else (if you are providing comfort):

“Here’s what you’ve managed in the past” and/or “Here’s how you can manage this situation based on a similar one you’ve encountered before.”

Neither of these responses downplay or dismiss your current levels of stress and anxiety. Instead it empowers you to feel like you can handle this, by proving that you have handled hard situations before.

Using CBT to Help Yourself

Sometimes we are our own worse critics and guilt trippers. The next time an anxious thought intrudes, instead of dismissing it as ‘nothing,’ take a deep breath and try to change your thinking patterns by implementing the alternative responses we suggested above. This is known as CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy that helps to rewire your thought processes. It may feel awkward at first, but like training wheels on a bike, it gets easier with practice.

Let us know how it goes for you!


Psychology Today, ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy,’ 2021, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/cognitive-behavioral-therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Los Angeles, ‘CBT Explained – What Does a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist Do?,’ 2020, https://cogbtherapy.com/about-cbt

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