Try is not a 4-letter word: Anti-Anxiety Tip #3

Try is not a 4-letter word: Anti-Anxiety Tip #3


I get it that many people say that try is a bad thing—that you shouldn’t say you will try to do something. I hate that advice!

I’ve had many clients who have had it drilled into them by their parents or others with a mantra of “Don’t say you’ll try!”

I see this anti-trying ideology as illogical and damaging. It destroys self-confidence.

Negative side effects of the trying-is-bad philosophy are that many people who adopt it are:

  • paralyzed by fear of making a mistake, and

  • riddled with anxiety and stress that stifles them from trying to achieve, trying new things, trying things that haven’t resulted in declared successes in the past, etc. 

  • And if they do try, they are drained by anxiety that accompanies the trying.


What's in This Post

 Trying is a Good Thing
 Assessing for Trying
 Get in Touch with "The Why of the Try"
 Quotes to Inspire You to Try
 Learn From Your Mistakes Quotes
 An Exercise for Trying
Workbooks to Undo Roadblocks to Trying


Disclaimer: This post should not be taken as therapy. Reach out to personal counselors for individualized therapeutic advice.


Trying is a Good Thing

You can’t accomplish anything unless you try to accomplish it. And you can’t know if you can’t do something unless you try to do it.

If I didn’t try to write this article, this article would not have been written.

Gold medal athletes can’t win their medal the first day they begin a sport. They keep trying to get better hoping they will reach their goal.

There are only so many gold medals. Some of those who try for them get there and many more don’t. For those who don’t get the big prize, there’s still plenty to be learned and gained by the trying.

If you think that trying to do something is a bad thing, then the idea of doing something that is challenging or new will create tension, fear, and anxiety.

Trying is good.


Assessing for Trying

Some things have to get done. The bills have to be paid (though you may not be the one who has to pay them.) Your schoolwork has to get done.

If you put off doing things that have to be done, then you may be dealing with procrastination. (Click for my post about procrastination.)

For the things that are optional, you get to decide whether you will try them, and how, and when. You get to make a risks and benefits assessment before you decide to try and reassessment as you proceed with the trying.

When I came up with the idea to focus on publishing blog posts related to anxiety for one month, my first idea was one a day, every day in the month.

I tested the idea by writing a list of potential topics. I quickly created a list of over 50 topics—so that was not a limitation.

I wrote outlines and did research for several topics and decided that 20 posts was a more realistic goal than 30 given other commitments and priorities. So I adjusted my goal to every weekday in the month.

In deciding to publish an anxiety post each weekday for a month, I understand that I did my best to assess the viability of the goal and I will do my best to make it happen. I am trying to reach the goal. I don’t know yet whether it will be achieved, but I am willing to try.


Get in touch with "The Why of the Try"

When you are assessing something to decide whether you want to try to do it, figure out why you want to achieve the particular goal.

The why is your motivation. Keeping in mind the why will give you energy to begin and sustain you through challenges.

The why can clarify the important aspects of the goal. It will tell you which aspects are priorities as you move forward. It will help you decide how to make changes to your initial plan because you’ll see more clearly what parts of the plan are and aren’t important.

For my month of anxiety information posts, my goal is to help more people deal successfully with their anxiety and improve their lives. Being clear about that goal helped me let go of my initial every day posting idea and alter it to a schedule I think is more doable. Either way can advance me toward my goal.


Quotes to Inspire You to Try

Here are some quotes about trying as reinforcements to back up my “It’s good to try!” idea.

  1. "As a person, I'm just trying to be better than I was yesterday and continue to elevate." ─Gabriella Wilson

  2. “All the great speakers were bad speakers first.” ─Ralph Waldo Emerson

  3.  "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." ─Arthur Ashe

    Arthur Ashe Quote about trying


    4. “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” ─Wayne Gretzky

    5. "I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying." ─Michael Jordan

     6. “That which we persist in doing becomes easier─not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” ─Ralph Waldo Emerson

     7. “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.” ─Steve Brown


    Anything worth doing quote about trying



    8. "I'm continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you're uncomfortable, it means you're growing." ─ Ashton Kutcher


    Learn From Your Mistakes Quotes

    9.  "A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." ─ Albert Einstein

    10. "If you're not making some mistakes, it probably means you're not trying hard enough." ─ Evan Davis

    11. Mistakes should be your teacher, not your attacker. Mistakes are a lesson, not a loss. Mistakes are temporary, necessary detours, not dead ends. 


     Learn From Your Mistakes Quotes


    An Exercise for Trying

    Note: This exercise can go hand in hand with the learning and exercise from my earlier blog post, Stretch Your Comfort Zone: Anxiety tip #2 .

    What can you try to do today? It could be something that has the potential of being fully accomplished today or started today. It could just be that you start a plan today for something that you will put into action soon.

    Try to do something today that has intimidated you in the past. It doesn’t have to be big.

    Stretch your ability to try.

    Use the quotes, my words, or your own words to help inspire you.

    Take note of:

    • why you want to try this thing,
    • what gets in the way of you trying,
    • what helps you try,
    • how it feels to try something different.

    Enjoy the try!


    Workbooks to Undo Roadblocks to Trying

    I've helped hundreds of counseling clients overcome roadblocks that get the way of success. I've turned what I've learned about what works and doesn't work into books that can help you too. 

    Two of my workbooks, Becoming Calm: Silver Lining Anxiety and Stress Resilience Workbook and Journal, and Building Skills to Uplevel Life: Silver Lining Emotional Intelligence Workbook include worksheets directly related to developing the ability to try.

     Building Skills to Uplevel Life: Silver Lining Emotional Intelligence Workbook


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    • Ann Silvers
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