Man, life can get SO stressful sometimes, eh? I had to take my car in for its yearly inspection, knowing it was in no way, shape, or form going to pass. As predicted, it failed. It failed BIG TIME. My little 2012 Ford Fusion is reliable, but I must say, I never had this much trouble with my trusty 2000 Saturn that I drove throughout high school and college! I don’t remember ever failing a single inspection. Now, something goes wrong every six months, it seems. I mean, I’ve had to roll down my window to open the car door with the handle on the outside for the last two months since it stopped working on the inside. That’s been fun.
Thanks for letting me vent, guys. Shout out to my little Fusion, though. Still love ya with all the memories we’ve made over the last three years. Many more to make, I’m sure.
I almost couldn’t bring myself to write today because my stress level has been so high. After getting the quote to fix the idler pulley, left front tire, alignment, and door of the car (it will cost approx. $1 million), I pretty much gave up on life. For lunch, I made a quesadilla with an expired tortilla and some leftover shredded Mexican cheese I used on the zucchini boats last month, as if all of a sudden I can’t afford normal food. If my husband were home, he’d roll his eyes, then tell me to go take a bike ride until I realized that we’re still totally fine. Instead of listening to his imaginary advice, I decided to eat the quesadilla and stew in my anxiety. #deploymentishard
My near-inability to write today reminded me of just how paralyzing anxiety can be. Worrying about money, relationships, the future, or anything at all is pretty pointless. It’s good to make smart decisions, but if you’re being responsible, everything will turn out just fine! Worry warts like me are just wasting precious energy being tense instead of enjoying life.
I don’t just worry about money. I worry about health. I worry about the state of my relationships with family and friends. I worry about whether I’m doing enough to help others. I worry about my appearance (well, depending on the day). I worry about my future, my blog, my puppy I haven’t met yet, and even my relationship with God. For years, I’ve tried to swallow a few chill pills, but my natural tendency to feel gut-wrenching, debilitating worry tends to pop up at least once a week.
From a spiritual perspective, the Bible instructs us not to worry, rather to live within God’s will and trust that he’ll provide. Boy, that’s tough. That is, and should be, the number one motivation for me to constantly work on my anxious heart, but there are also plenty of reasons to pull myself together outside of my faith. In fact, these additional reasons probably coincide with why the Bible says not to worry in the first place. As my mom always said, even if the Bible weren’t true, wouldn’t life be so much better by doing what it says, anyway? Don’t slander, gossip, kill, lie, cheat, judge, etc. All things that really do make the world better if us silly humans don’t get caught up in self-righteousness or legalism.
Onto the repercussions of worrying:
1. Worry paralyzes
Like I mentioned, I could barely bring myself to write today, because writing means clearly your mind enough to put coherent thoughts on “paper.” I could barely clear my mind to write an entire post about worry itself, much less a different subject all together. But what’s the point? I can’t change the fact that my car is broken, and I can’t change how much it’ll cost to fix it. I can’t do anything about my current stress, so why is it stopping me from doing anything else? That cycle makes no sense at all, yet we all face it. I’m sure you’ve been unable to concentrate at work because you’re so worried about xy & z. This is a huge reason to work on battling our anxiety. We have to realize that life is going to have its way with us sometimes, and we’ve just got to keep on keepin’ on without letting pointless worry consume our minds. My husband is SO good at this one! I’m still a work in progress, obviously.
2. Worry criticizes
I’ve found that when I get really caught up in my worry, I start getting angry. I criticize my own decisions. I criticize the auto mechanic. I criticize the makers of the car. I criticize my husband in completely unrelated subjects, even though he’s legitimately perfect. (Not even kidding– Shout out to my husband, who has managed to squash absolutely any flaw in his being. I have no clue how I got so lucky.)
You see, worry usually accompanies a problem, or a potential problem, which means we want to identify the root of that problem. Identifying the root often leads to the blame game. I wouldn’t be worried if you had just done ______. (Blaming others.) I wouldn’t be worried if I’d just been better about ______. (Blaming yourself.) I wouldn’t be worried if ______ wasn’t a factor. (Blaming unrelated issues.) Criticism and blame do nothing to help the worry, and simply tear apart relationships or your own self-esteem. Sure, if someone else is involved, you can bring up an issue, but make sure it’s worth confronting, because often times there’s no “fault” to be had. We just get blinded by frustration or fear, and take it out in the wrong places. Be very careful about this one!
3. Worry catastrophizes
I made up that word, but it’s fine. It sounded good with numbers 1 and 2. What this means is that worry escalates everything, making you think that you’re facing a catastrophe. For example, right now, I’m solely worried about the car. JUST KIDDING. I’m worried about the car, which means I’m worried it’ll break again in the future and I’ll have to get a new car, and what if that happens at the same time the dog has to get spayed, and what if we have to pay for kids too, and what if we can’t find an awesome house to buy for our future family, and what if I get fat when I have kids, and what if my husband stops being attracted to me, and what if they never invent a printer that prints pizza.* (This is the second time I’ve mentioned a pizza printer on this blog. Apparently this is an extremely important invention in my world.)
*This could also explain why I’m worried I’ll get fat when I have babies. Which, for the record, would not matter to my husband outside of the health concerns. He likes ’em round and juicy. (EW OMG why did I just say that.)
The point is that worry takes one issue and turns it into a list of all the ways that issue could get worse and worse until it totally ruins your life. Guess what? One mega bill on my car isn’t going to be the downfall of my entire life. Yet somehow, my brain is going haywire and turning this one event into something that paralyzes me, makes me critical and angry, and has me convinced that my life is falling to shambles.
Here’s the one, true fact: Four things are broken in my car, so we won’t be able to put as much as we usually would towards savings this month. BIG FREAKIN’ WOOP.
Based on how much I’ve been sweating, the way I vented to my poor friend who simply asked “How are you doing?”, and what I chose to eat for lunch, you’d think that we were just told that Aaron lost is job and we’re about to be evicted from our home and I am being hunted down by the IRS for millions of dollars.
Worrying is so dumb, you guys. Listen to Jesus. He says not to do it for a reason. First off, because you should trust that God will provide if you live for Him. Also, because your body simply can’t handle the stress it causes. I mean, GEEZ, now I’m worried I’m going to get stress-induced cancer due to my state of anxiety today. Worry is just a terrible snowball, affecting your mind, body, relationships, and basically every other important aspect of life. So, if you tend to be a worrier like me, time to pull yourself together and begin praying, clinging to logic, and drinking wine. I haven’t had a glass of wine in over a week, which could be the root of this whole thing, come to think of it…
If my message hasn’t been clear enough, hopefully this will do the trick!