I used to experience panic attacks about once a week.
(This was what initially led me to therapy last year.)
And there is nothing like a panic attack to make you realize how powerful your words are.
For example, you might say to yourself, casually, because your mind tends toward the anxious… “Maybe I will pass out.” Or, if you’re feeling particularly nervous…. “Maybe I’m dangerously close to death.”
And suddenly, your world responds in real-time.
Your blood pressure nose-dives. Your heart beats fast, skin turns cold and clammy, vision squid-inks out to black.
You find yourself very nearly passed out on the floor, sweating into your hands, spinning into the dark.
The only thing that can bring you back is the very thing that brought you here: Your words.
“You’re fine.” “Breathe.” “Everything is okay.” “You’re safe.”
Your vision returns like a curtain lifting. Your heartbeat slows to normal. The world resumes behaving as it should.
Fortunately, I haven’t experienced a panic attack in months. Why?
Because I made a decision to become ruthless about my words.
I could not let a rogue sentence escape into my consciousness or out of my mouth. Otherwise, I’d risk it being the exact wrong words that would trigger my body’s protective panic response.
My experience illuminated for me something most of us know at the gut-level… but maybe dismiss as an exaggeration in a society that prioritizes the tangible and belittles the unseen:
Words are never just words. In fact, they are often everything.
What we say to ourselves determines how we feel, show up, and are perceived. What we say about ourselves or our brand, products, services, offers, or business can mean the difference between customers wanting to buy from us…. Or not. (Which means, of course, the difference between profit and loss, between making an impact and closing up shop.)
So, as a copywriter (a bonafide wordsmith by trade) and a panic attack veteran, my advice to any business owner is to be ruthless with your words. Especially those that go out into the world to represent your business–your livelihood, your passion, your soul-led work.
Because words are never just words. In fact, they are often everything.