Last night anxiety hit hard. My heart started pounding, my thoughts started racing, and within minutes I felt like I was about to throw up. A stressful, fearful thought had been triggered, and all of a sudden I felt out of control. I lost focus on my previous activity and started obsessing over the trigger. Feeling frustrated at my own response, my mind immediately went to guilt. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t handle my thoughts, my emotions, or my automatic response to fear.
It was a very discouraging experience for me. I want to be beyond this point already. I want to be at a point where I can face all of my fears with strength and confidence. I want to be at a point where don’t ever obsess over irrational thoughts anymore, or carry out unfounded compulsions to ease my anxiety. But I am not at that point yet, and this became very evident to me last night.
Nonetheless, I am not going to give up. I am going to keep fighting for the results that I know are waiting for me around the corner. You can’t start a diet and exercise program and expect to achieve the lifelong results you are looking for within the first few weeks of your regiment. Sure, you may drop a few pounds in that time, but if your goal is long term change, then you will need to remain committed to your plan for much longer!
This is kind of where I am at right now. I have seen some phenomenal progress and changes in my life over the past month. My attitude has improved, I have a new sense of passion and motivation driving me, and I have a genuine hope that there is indeed light at the end of this long, scary tunnel. I truly believe that I am in the midst of a miraculous healing from these exhausting struggles, and that God is giving me a special boost of the energy that I need to be able to face all of this. I am certain that this year is going to be a turning point for me.
But it has only been one month. And I have to remember that I am walking this journey in the middle of my everyday life. Meaning, I can’t turn everything else off around me just so that I can focus on healing. I have to somehow make time for both—to live life and to heal. And I have to recognize that it will take more than a month to retrain a lifetime of negative thought patterns.
You may have heard or read that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. As it turns out, while this number has been widely accepted and circulated over the years, more recent research shows that it actually takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. Sometimes even longer. For some people in a recent study, it took up to eight months for a new routine to become automatic. I can’t expect immediate perfection from myself. That is so something I would expect. But I need to learn to readjust my expectations.
I literally just wrote yesterday about how recovery takes time. In fact, I had basically just finished writing How a Toddler Taught Me to Take My Time when my anxiety was triggered. I am loving my blogging journey so far and have been amazed at all of the revelations that I am experiencing along the way. But I am also finding that I am constantly having to put my own ideas into practice. Blogging about all of this is forcing me to put my money where my mouth is and to test my own theories in real time. It is very challenging, but also very motivating.
At the end of the day, I am thankful for the process. Taking a step back to reflect on it and write about it helps me to put everything in perspective and see things in a healthier light. Today I can be thankful for the incident last night, because it was yet another reminder that I haven’t arrived and I need to keep myself grounded and focused. I can be thankful that I was able to work through my anxiety last night and bring myself back to a peaceful state of mind. I can be thankful that I have not lost faith in the process and am learning to embrace the bumps and obstacles that occur along the way. And I can be thankful that God has been so good and gracious to me on this journey and that He is walking with me through it all.
Gratitude helps. What are you thankful for today?