The anxiety of stalling and standing still

Anxiety and inertia

It’s been 4 months since my last post, and many times over those months, I have experienced anxiety about lost momentum and inertia. I have not only felt the guilt of ‘not doing’, but the fear of imminent failure and the possibility of ‘never doing’.

Anxiety is at epidemic levels in our 21st century, technological society, and the women diagnosed with anxiety disorders, outnumber men by 2 to 1. Sufferers often feel anxiety for no real reason, creating panic and provoking physical symptoms, without any hope of natural resolution (fight, flight, freeze or fawn).

But my anxiety had a very real cause; the fear of doing nothing! Of stalling and standing still. The Life I Choose is very precious to me; a kind of work that has meaning and purpose, a following of what my own heart desires. In the words of Brené Brown – “my arena.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” Theodore Roosevelt

We can be busy ‘doing’, while standing still

It’s not like I was doing nothing! I was, for the most part, taming the monster that my dog care business had become. We had experienced rapid growth over the first few months of 2017, and it was unstable in terms of both procedures and new co-workers.  Once again, I realised it was sucking the life blood from my veins, like some vampirish terror that came to me at night.


I experienced constant stress and anxiety that sapped my energy and stalled other projects. More than just distraction, but distracted none the less. I’ve also been in pain. My ex-husband died towards the end of June, aged only 55. He had a very aggressive form of motor neurone disease, and went from diagnosis to death is around a year.

His death has left me emotionally exhausted. Not only have I watched my 3 young adult children lose their dad, but I wasn’t prepared for the range and depth of feelings that have ambushed me.

This is such a classic tale of how and why we do not live the life we choose. Life happens! And in the face of our struggles we can find ourselves drifting, directionless, away from our passions and desires, and the things we would actively choose (f only we had the time or energy).

How to overcome inertia

In this way our journeying through life is very much like our journeying in a car. If we stall and take no action, we can wish for momentum until the cows come home, but we will remain where we are. To get beyond our inertia we must *do* something.

And that “something” needs to be something easy and motivating, and here we probably all differ. For me, I find learning, reading, listening to motivating podcasts or lectures, TED talks or audio books, especially while I am out walking, is hugely helpful. Then I will plan a few steps forward, and away I go.

It’s my way of breaking through the overwhelm, until I can once again see the path ahead winding off into the horizon. But note, I couldn’t do anything while the dog business was chaotic, or the pain of loss was raw. Sometimes standing still is all we can do to survive.


I guess for some people it will be the help of an encouraging friend, or running, or spring cleaning the house, or taking a trip. Listen to your guts and find something that works for you. The little spark that allows you to clear the decks and ignite your passion for what your heart desires, allowing you, once again, to fan the flames.

Living the life we choose will never be a constant forwards progression. Sure, there will be times of great flow and momentum, but stalling and the anxiety that accompanies it, are also a legitimate part of the journey. Try not to panic, and be watchful for your ‘way back’, for it will surely come.

Ali x


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