Saturday, October 1, 2011

Patience Little Grasshopper

I have learned to become a pretty patient person over the last few years.  Maybe because I've figured out that being impatient causes me a great deal of anxiety, or maybe it's because I've realized that sometimes things don't happen exactly when I want them to.  In the past, I wanted everything to happen "now."  I didn't want to have to wait for medications to start working, or the ECT to take effect.  I wanted to feel better "now."   I didn't want to "wait and see what happens," I wanted answers, "now."
My impatience began breeding anxiety that was clearly not effective or necessary.  Besides the fact, that half the time, I was acting like a toddler having a tantrum.  When I came at doctors from my impatience and frustration, I was usually met with the same on the other end.  When I demanded results that others couldn't give me, I was the one left feeling helpless and angry, not them.  And then, I had a light bulb moment.  What if I was firm, but patient on my end?  What if, instead of flying off the handle immediately, I composed myself before the appointment or conversation even started, and began it calmly, stating clearly what exactly I was looking for?  What if when I wasn't satisfied with an answer, I simply took the information I was given, and when I was in a better frame of mind, used that information to take the next step?
This is what we call Wise Mind, in DBT.  It is where our emotional mind and logical mind meet, so that we aren't acting and reacting from one extreme or the other.  Wise Mind, it turns out, is where my patience lives.  For all my life, I didn't know that it resided there, because I was often too far in emotional mind to realize it. (This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me!  My life is over!)  Although I'm sure I dabbled in Logical Mind, ( I'm tired, I have to go to sleep.) for the most part everything I did or didn't do was based completely on how I felt.
Getting to Wise Mind, and staying there, takes a lot of practice.  I had to start small and work my way up.  At first it was just being mindful of my breath.  Then it was small art projects that I could finish within a day or two.  Then it was having a conversation with someone, and trying not to get distracted by other thoughts or feelings.  Slowly, but surely, my impatience ebbed, and my patience flowed.  Mindful breathing, became thirty minutes of hypnotherapy.  My small art projects, became larger ones, making jewelry for all my sisters and mothers for Christmas.  Conversations turned into friendships and healed relationships.  More than anything, this practice of being in Wise Mind, gave me confidence to make the things that I wanted to happen "now," just happen.
There are days, and even weeks, when living my life from this "Wise Mind" perspective is challenging.    I am thankful to have such an amazing network of support, to help remind me when I am slipping back into impatience and frustration, instead of moving forward with patience and hope.  Patience, has taken me from a whirlwind of anxiety, to a reflecting pool of calm.

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