Day 9 ~ Downshifting…

close up of gear shift over black background
Photo by Pixabay on

There is a running joke in my family about my tendency to not fully understand seemingly simple concepts.  For example, there was this time when we were driving up a hill and I made the mistake of saying, “Maybe I should downshift so that we get better traction here.”  I legitimately thought that I had learned somewhere that by downshifting you would have better traction, so it seemed like a reasonable statement to me.  My declaration, however; was met with wild laughter from the other geniuses in the car and I was soon given detailed explanations about why that particular statement was stupid.  I had my wires crossed.  Once the idea went into my brain it took a detour through bizarro world and came out backwards on the other side.  Downshifting is what you do when you are going down a hill…to help slow your vehicle down.  It will most likely not be a helpful strategy for driving up a hill.

I’m not a stupid person.  In fact, I used to be quite intelligent.  Like, strangely intelligent.  This became my go-to during 4th grade when I attended 6 different schools as my family moved around trying to find work.  I’ll share more about that year in another post, but for now I’m heading in a different direction.  The harder things were at home, the more I hid in my schoolwork.  Through my teen years, things were very difficult and I focused on what I could control; my ability to learn.  A coping mechanism for me was to basically memorize everything that I needed to learn and forget about everything else.  For a while, I hid in this pattern.  I poured my energy into being a good student and I acted like everything was just fine.  Everyone was so convinced that I was intelligent that they didn’t have a clue how broken I was.  And that was okay with me.  I didn’t want anyone to know how bad things were.

Over time, I learned that this was not a good way to deal with life’s challenges.  Over-achieving didn’t do a thing to help the situation and it put a lot of unnecessary pressure on me to try and maintain a reputation as a “smart” kid.  By sophomore year or so, I had given up on being known as smart.  I decided to fly as far under the radar as possible and that’s what I did for the rest of my high school career.  I was able to be smart; I just didn’t want to do it any longer.  And the older I get, the less inclined I am to go to great lengths to impress anyone.  I learned that in order to heal from brokenness, we must confront what broke us.  Hiding behind a persona won’t fix anything.  It only creates more crap for us to overcome.

So, these days, I allow my family to make fun of much of what I say.  I figure they know deep down that I’m a whole lot smarter than I sometimes sound.  If it makes them feel better to call attention to my shortcomings, I will let them have that.  And if it provides some sort of comic relief for them, I’ll take that too.  The point is that I have grown past the point where I need to filter those moments of inadequacy.  And if I want to downshift while driving up a hill, I’m completely free to do that.  I’m also free to be ridiculed, but that’s beside the point.  I’m free to be an idiot if I so choose.  And I’m all the better for it.

47 Days of Self-Care is a blogging project that is being published between three different blogs owned by Author & Publisher, Rebecca Benston.  Over these 47 days, she hopes to share thoughts and resources for better self-care.  You can view related posts at Higher Ground for Life, here at the Leading the Follower blog, and on the Higher Ground Books & Media blog.


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My name is Rebecca Benston. I’m a Christian. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. When I write fiction, I am usually writing a mystery series called The Rona Shively Stories. My P.I. character, Rona Shively is feisty, fearless and fabulous and is usually caught up in something she doesn’t want to be caught up in. In addition to this series, I also have a blog called Higher Ground for Life. Through this blog, I’m hoping to reach women or anyone who is seeking to develop a relationship with God and give them inspiration to get out there and follow His path for their lives!
I also have a blog called Leading the Follower. This one is my favorite. I write about religion, faith, spirituality and all that goes along with it. What we believe, what we don’t believe, what we are told to believe and how society feels about believing in general. I do a lot of testifying here and some of what I say may make you angry. Most of it will make you think. Some of it will make you cry. Any of it could make you laugh. It’s really up to you.

If you are looking for practical advice, honest conversation, and no nonsense observations about living in today’s world, check out my blogs at and and and And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase my books and some other great, inspirational works from Higher Ground Books & Media at

Be blessed!

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