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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 anxiety 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.

A side effect of the trying-is-bad philosophy is that many people who adopt it are 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 . . .. And if they do try, they are drained by anxiety that accompanies the trying.

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. (I’ll talk about procrastination in an upcoming post, so I won’t dive deeper into it now.)

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 in the month of April, 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 week day in the month.

In deciding to publish an anxiety post each week day this 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 “April Anxiety Challenge” 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.

Some quotes to help inspire you to try


I’ve brought some reinforcements to back up my “It’s good to try!” idea.

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

“One hundred percent of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in.” ─Wayne Gretzky

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”─Dale Carnegie

“That which we persist in doing becomes easiernot that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.”─Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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


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!

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  • Ann Silvers
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