The #1 Mistake Anxious People Make Every Day

image Shhh! via TalkTherapyBizFor the love of God, stop explaining yourself.

There’s no need to provide so many details about your experience, your relationship, why you can’t make the party, or why you’re bailing on your morning workout.

I get you. I used to do this. A lot. Stick with me and I’ll teach you how to overcome this bad habit, step-by-step.

Time is money. And mental energy is finite. When you over-explain, you squander precious emotional and material powers, and waste someone else’s, too.

Talking too much is a boundaries issue.

It’s also an anxiety issue.

Anxious people have a strange relationship with the spoken word. On the one hand, talking gives you something to do, and somewhere to channel your nervous energy. On the other hand, words drive you crazy with regret after meetings, conversations, dates, and arguments. Listening to chatterboxes feels like emotional vomiting, plus people tune you out.

(Unless you have social anxiety. Then you beat yourself up for talking shit to yourself and avoiding conversations with others)

The good news is there’s always options in life.

However, before you find your Inner-Decisive you need to know why you do what you do.


Common Reasons You Over-Explain

  • You weren’t allowed to express yourself growing up.
  • You don’t trust that others will “get” your message (which really means you don’t trust yourself).
  • You equate brevity with being curt and dismissive.
  • You’re ambivalent about what you want.
  • You can’t stand the word ‘no.’


How to Communicate Clearly 

1. Breathe. Breathe slowly and deeply. Try the 4-4-4-: Inhale for a count of four; hold for a count of four; exhale for a count of four. Do this at least three times in succession, and before meeting with people or situations which make you anxious. Here’s 30-minutes of FREE calm to get you started.

2. Practice cutting words from your vernacular. A great way to trim the language fat is to spend time on Twitter. Check out how clever and clear conversations coexist inside this 140 characters parameter. Twitter is awesome, and so much more than just sharing your steel-cut oatmeal breakfast. While trolling, make sure to follow me, too!

3. Write short, punchy email messages. If you typically send five paragraph messages, cut it down to three. I promise, recipients will appreciate you. And if they don’t — pass along this post.

4. Take two beats before responding to someone when you’re caught off guard. You’re not competing in the Talking Olympics, so go slow.

5. Start believing you’re worthy of accolades, prizes, healthy relationships and luxuries. When you intrinsically value yourself, others will follow. If they don’t, it’s a sign to leave ‘em behind.

6. Tighten up your message. Instead of vague language like ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ tell us what you really mean. “Mind-blowingly awesome,” and “eye-scratchingly awful” stand out. “I’m having a bad day” could mean your cat needs cataract surgery, you have a killer ear ache, or you’re hungover.

7. Become BFF with ‘no.’ ‘Tis a beautiful word which is essential to every relationship. Here’s a most awesome boundaries tutorial.

8. Write it down. Preparation is crucial. Because your mind races when you’re stressed, relaying the main points of your message guarantees clarity, even if you still talk too damn much :P

In summary, slow down, breathe, befriend brevity, and focus on your two main points when communicating.


The beauty of brief is less talk means more action. And more calm, too! <–Tweet this!




How ’bout you?

Got a #9 to share? Leave feedback below.

If you liked this article, please spread the anti-anxiety word on Facebook or Twitter.




About Linda Esposito

Hi there! I'm an Anxiety Saboteur and the creator of the soon-to-be retired If you want to join me on Wired for Happy click this link to subscribe for details.

11 Responses to "The #1 Mistake Anxious People Make Every Day"

  1. bensonNo Gravatar says:

    No #9, just came by for the image. :P

  2. StaceyNo Gravatar says:

    I think it’s important to make a decision before you associate with toxic people. Too many nice people lack assertive skills and don’t know how to stand up to over-powering personalities. Sometimes mean, rude people are encountered despite your best attempts at practicing calm and collected responses.

    It’s times like these when abdominal breathing is not enough!!

  3. jBNo Gravatar says:

    Perfectly said. Needed these tips. So useful! Brevity is beauty! Thank you.

  4. KIMBerly crosslandNo Gravatar says:

    Okay, okay, you caught me! I’m SO guilty of doing this! Your tips on overcoming over explanation are great! One rule I’ve used (that goes along with your rule #3) is to limit the goal of each email message to one thing. That’s helped me cut back on the “text fat” and convey my message more clearly. And in turn? I’m way less anxious about the person’s response. Great post Linda!

    • Linda EspositoNo Gravatar says:

      Thanks Kimberly! Gonna steal your “One message, One goal” standard :)

  5. MemtaliNo Gravatar says:

    Excellent writing. I can see myself when I read it. This is something I couldn’t overcome and regularly face gestures from my wife to be quiet. We live in big cities where we don’t have many people who knows us well. We want to be known. Each time we move for a new job or life we leave the ones we know well behind. Maybe we want to replace them with the new ones quickly. I have no problem managing conversation in a work environment and I can be dead on topic. The problem starts in social occasions. I will take your advises and practice.

  6. Hyman T.No Gravatar says:

    Women are considered less credible and their views are disregarded. Talking too much is one unfortunate method to make their presence felt a bit.

    It’s not just young and inexperienced women engaging idle chatter. Highly accomplished women have found that they must speak as much as possible and as fast as possible in order to leave anything behind. Otherwise a man will just make a joke about something a woman said and instantly wins.

  7. Hyman T.No Gravatar says:

    Most common reason why we overexplain:
    We sense that we have not convinced people. They are already saying no to us, and the opportunity is passing us by.

    Women are locked into this low-credibility – overexplanation – even lower credibility vicious circle.

  8. Roadmap to Calm | TalkTherapyBiz says:

    […] truth is there’s no silver bullet or quick fix to get you on the other side of anxiety. It’s about making choices on the daily to do things differently from what you’re doing now. […]

  9. MooNo Gravatar says:

    Guilty as charged. Over explain often. Have a very critical, condescending, invasive parent and get drained in conversation. I often try to explain to no avail. Parent is relentless. Get caught off guard often. While sometimes can tame the beast with humor or “saying less” still feel anxiety around this person constantly. These tips are helpful. Is hard to deal with a boundary crasher especially if you have chosen to keep that person in your life. Venting… And will take action! Promise!

© Copyright 2010 and Beyond • TalkTherapyBiz • Website • DMDesigns