Anxious “Broom Talk” is how I refer to the habit of using sweeping statements. People who have high anxiety and worry often, tend to make sweeping statements about situations, other people, and themselves. As an anxiety coach, I have written this short article to help you learn how to reduce anxious “Broom Talk”.
Examples of sweeping statements
- “School is hard and not worth it”
- “Nobody cares to celebrate my accomplishment”
- “I’m bad at focusing”
Elements of sweeping statements
Sweeping statements might not be true and rarely are. They are permanent with no time limit. “School is hard and not worth it” does not leave room for a future class that we take because we love the topic or a potential scholarship we win due to the knowledge we gained in school.
Also, they ignore any exceptions. “Nobody cares to celebrate my accomplishment” immediately erases the friend who called to say ‘Congrats’, the relative who sent a card, and the sibling who gave you a sweet homemade gift.
Finally, sweeping statements are too general and thus, leave little room for problem solving. “I’m bad at focusing” has no details about what ‘bad’ means and also has no description of what exactly needs focus. Are you struggling with focusing on completing household chores, making a public speech, or working the same job until retirement? Details matter.
The consequences of Broom Talk
When we get into the habit of making sweeping statements, we are using Broom Talk. Broom Talk can cause us to avoid uncomfortable situations, even if they will likely benefit us. It can increase the fear we have of others judging us negatively and feed the shame we might already feel about ourselves.
How to reduce anxious Broom Talk
To disrupt Broom Talk and reduce the sweeping statements you make, start with these steps:
- Pause and observe your thought
- Ask yourself, “Is this statement true?”
- Make the statement time limited
- Include any and all exceptions
- Add details and a description of what you actually mean
- Say the new statement out loud
The next time you catch yourself using Broom Talk, follow the steps listed above. Once you do, ask yourself if the new statement is more truthful. Finally, observe how you feel and move forward from there.
– Angela Zender
Anxiety Coach at The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center