Anxiety and speed bumps

Lately, my main goal in life has been to “look for the best.” My favourite passage in the Bible is Philippians 4:4-9. Whatever you may believe, this passage still holds water. I’ll let you look it up yourself if you’re not familiar, but what I get out of it is the recommendation to focus on the good things in life. Fill your mind with positives, with what’s right, and pure, and hopeful. Whatever you believe, I think it’s true that if you focus on the negatives, you’ll feel rubbish. Plain and simple. If you look for the positives, you’ll start to find them, while releasing tension at the same time.

It’s not easy. Especially for someone who’s struggled all her life with anxiety. I’ll be blunt. It sucks. It’s horrible knowing that worrying and stress does me MORE harm than 99.9% of the things I worry about, which rarely, if ever, come to pass. But something in my head has always tried to assure me that if I worry, I’ll be on top of the problem. I’ll nip it in the bud before it blooms.

So. Not. True.

I’ve learned that preparation and caution ready us and keep us alert to dangers and behaviors that invite them — and there’s nothing wrong with those.

But worry over things I can’t control, things I’m guessing so-and-so might be thinking about me, the behavior of others, the weird pain that the internet wants to tell me means I have 2 minutes to live — none of this gets me anywhere. It seems pretty obvious, right?

The problem is, a person can know this intellectually but still struggle to turn the worry off.

This is how worry makes me feel. Armless, and helpless.
This is how worry makes me feel. Armless, and helpless.

As someone who believes in God, I’ve found this a vexing lifelong struggle. God encourages us, tells us not to worry. If the Creator of the universe and every hair on my head is suggesting I don’t worry, I should probably listen, right?

Then why is it so hard sometimes?

When someone doesn’t call when they say they will, when a weird ailment comes out of nowhere, when my dreams get thwarted one more time, my brain decides it’s a great opportunity to drive me and everyone around me mad with pointless anxiety.

Enter a few (very minor) health problems recently. I’ll list one: bronchitis which I had for 2 months. It left a lingering cough, and all this made me worry it was something more, something worse. The positive in all this is that I now know I’ll never again take breathing for granted. I now wake up in the morning and am grateful for oxygen, and that my lungs are working and not wheezing. So there’s that.

It finally dawned on me that the little problems we encounter daily can add stress, which enhances already-present worries, which lead to anxiety, which manifests itself in various physical ways, be it panic attacks, tense muscles, palpitations, etc.

So one thing I recently read might help: look at daily problems as speed bumps rather than “problems.” You can either slow down for speed bumps, or you can take them at full speed, do damage to your car and possibly yourself, and look foolish in the process. But if you look at all these daily problems as growth opportunities, you can calmly decide what action to take that will get you through the problem in the most effective and graceful manner.

I think “graceful” is the key. I can continue to face problems with my typical worry reaction, giving myself headaches and stomachaches and tension, and get bent out of shape . . . or I can slow down, decide on an effective, graceful solution, and get through it without regretting my reaction the next day.

I really want to remember this, and hope that when the next speed bump comes (because they never stop), I’ll choose the latter.

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8 thoughts on “Anxiety and speed bumps

  1. How ironic? coincidental? fate? destiny? I don’t know. But whatever it is, I *just* read this passage right before I clicked on your link in my email! <3

    You know me and my blog are totally dedicated to finding the positives, no matter how small, even in the darkest hour. We all struggle. And it is a constant struggle. But we must never give up. You know you can text, email, chat, tweet, whatever you need. I am always here for you. I so get you and can lend an empathetic ear and shoulder. Virtual hugs are always nice! 🙂

    PS: did you see my A to Z challenge posts?? If not, you really should. And maybe give it a go yourself. You don't have to make it public. 🙂

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My Writing Journey
    Caring for My Veteran

  2. On a positive note, it would seem that even when you are feeling helpless, you still envisage yourself as a goddess – Venus no less. Good for you.

    1. Hahahah! HARDLY. I was coming at it purely from the angle that the woman is limbless (and the fact that I’m milking my recent Paris trip photos for all they’re worth). But thanks!

  3. This post really resonated with me, like the universe was talking to me. I had this very discussion with my mom two days ago. Of late, I’ve just been a worrywart and it reflected in everything. Then my mom talked to me, although she used the Matthew verse about God feeding the birds, and I decided to exhale. Take things easy. Do my best, pray and hope for a great outcome.
    Nothing in life is certain, but like you said, worrying doesn’t change anything, so it’s best to drive slow for the sake of preserving our mental health.

    Of course, I have to remind myself this everyday– because it’s not just something that goes away and never comes back, but it feels good to know I’m not alone. So thank you for sharing!

  4. Chy, your writing reaches to the deepest parts of those of us who struggle – with anxiety, depression, and so forth. Sometimes it is like looking into a mirror and watching you mimic me from the other side of the glass. I have known you a long time, and in those years both you and I have changed, and yet, stayed the same. Thank you for reminding me that in having speed bumps and looking for the positives, we are not alone. Armless and seemingly hopeless, we can still walk side-by-side and be present for one another on shared journeys. I know our conversations are few and sporadic, but nonetheless, I follow your journey – through your writings, your photos, your perspective. And know I am always here for you as well.

    As “Stephanie” so nicely called you, Venus, shine on! =)

    1. Thanks for the lovely post, Kelly. I definitely know we’re not hopeless, and that’s the one thing that gets me through! This has been a trying time for my own worries and anxieties, but I’m grateful for it because a) I feel like it’s a chance to face it and move forward, and b) it brings people together and shows me we’re not alone 🙂 Thank you so much, your words mean a lot!! *hugs*

  5. Great post, Cheyenne. I know for me, life’s obstacles tend to feel like little Mount Everests. It’s always good to have that reminder that they’re nothing more than speed bumps, and it’s up to me to choose how to approach them. Best wishes on conquering your own speed bumps with efficiency and grace. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much! I’ve had a few speed bumps since I posted this. I can honestly report that on a handful of occasions, I hit them at full speed, as per usual. But on at least two occasions in the past few days, I managed to tackle them with more grace than normal, so I think progress may indeed be possible 😀

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