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Linguistic Programming and Anxiety

My favorite pod-caster, actor and comedian Marc Maron, has a lifetime full of experience with anxiety issues. In the creative industry and the arts, anxiety is common due to the fact that artists show their vulnerable side, which exposes them to criticism and more nerves to begin with. In one of his podcasts however, a listener came with some unsolicited advice for Marc: stop using the word anxiety and replace it with 'nerves'. Is he right? Today we discuss the powers and limitations of Linguistic Programming.

Linguistic Programming is a term from the field of psychology that signifies that the words - or 'wording' - we use, influences the way we feel in a very profound manner. The best example is always the difference between 'I have to' or 'I need to' versus 'I want to' or 'I wish to'. If you say"I have to wake up at six" you will feel like it is a obligation and experience resistance. If you say "I want to wake up at six" however, it will feel like a positive choice.


It means that every situation in your life can be approached as either something negative or something positive. Maybe you feel like you 'have' to work. But if you keep telling yourself you 'want' or 'wish' to work, you emphasize the benefits of said work, highlighting that this work may not be your dream job but that it allows you to put food on the table or even be used as a stepping stone towards that dream job. This makes it very, very powerful.


There is a limit to what you can do with linguistic programming, determined by what is realistic. You can't program yourself to do the impossible, whatever positive things you tell yourself! Having said that, the benefits of linguistic programming are numerous. If you are 'stuck in a rut' like great vlogger Ralph Smart showed in a video about depression, you can tell yourself it is an essential part of your progress. It may not solve things, but it helps.


So was the listener to Marc Maron right? I personally think he is. It really makes a difference saying you have a anxiety disorder versus the idea of being nervous. Yes, there is a limit, you can't talk yourself out of a real disorder. But isn't that too a matter of semantics? After all, anxiety is fueled by the expectation of becoming anxious... what if start saying to ourselves we are relaxed, happy, healthy but just stuck in a very useful, very normal rut for a while?


Think about it. And try it, maybe it helps.


And take it easy as always,


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