I was talking to my mother about stress and she pointed out that you can only deal with one bundle of worry at a time, that it was important to separate your worries out into piles and then work on taking apart one pile at a time. She used the word 'dismantling', which made me think my worries were like something I had built.
This makes sense, if you think about it. Stress and worry and all the attendant nasties that go with them are built up by us, often into a monolith, ready to tower above us and blot out the light. We don't mean it to happen, we often intend the very opposite, thinking if we examine our worries, then we can work through them and find solutions.
Somehow, so often, looking for solutions opens up all the other worries too and I realise that I have more to resolve than I first thought. Or, I realise this isn't the time when I can resolve them, either because I'm not in the right frame of mind or it just cannot be done.
This last one is a whopper: something that cannot be done. The ignorance of life! How dare it throw in my path an impossible problem! How dare it make me wait! Why should I have to exercise patience when I could be getting stuck in and making everything better (or worse)?
I often find it irritating when people talk about totally accepting their problems and having great reserves of patience. I admire the truly patient person, the one who is really at ease with the world and can step back to see the bigger picture. The other kind are the ones who profess to be this type but are, in fact, people who accept their problems and seem patient more because they give in and don't want to try to solve them than through any genuine acceptance of Fate.
I possibly sound unkind there - and I mean to be! If someone has reached a stage of despair in their life and can't see a way out, then let me help them and give them a hand to reach that first step. But if someone has reached a low stage and is using a patient, accepting manner to avoid any action, let them watch out.
I accept that I build my own worries, even when I'm looking for solutions, but I can't accept when people watch their worries pile up around them, growing ever-higher and there they are, in the middle of it all, talking about acceptance and patience.
There is a place for everything. Sometimes, I could really use some of that patient acceptance, especially when I'm so busy trying to dismantle my edifice that I create a giant pile of rubble between myself and the exit. But I think other people could sometimes use my manic rushing at a problem, if only to give them a kick-start.
So, this week I'm working on careful dismantling. I think the word 'careful' is probably as close as I can get to being patient. I know the two aren't the same thing but they did go to the same school and they share a second cousin.
If I can be careful about my problems, and look at them closely, before taking them apart, then maybe I won't end up with the pile of rubble that makes it look like I went in with a wrecking ball. I don't want to step back from my work and realise I have blocked my way, yet again, with all the things I thought I'd seen for the last time.
What I really want is to see a path through and not find I've built something impressive with my worries. That kind of building work I can do without, especially as it seems to happen when you're not looking and be waiting for you to turn around and notice it at the worst moment.
I'll dismantle one of the small things first and not look at all the pieces as I take them off. I don't want to spend all my time obsessing over the one little building project, being so careful I achieve nothing and then have to build a new thing, out of guilt and anger at myself.
I'm going to take my own advice and keep it all small. Small steps, small plans (ha!), small achievements that are solid in their foundations. I'll ease myself forward and work gradually, until it feels a little easier than before.
When I've finished, I may even take a picture, to prove to myself that sometimes, if I really want to, I can take to pieces the very things that I spent so much time putting together. And perhaps they'll stay in pieces and I can move on to something else that doesn't need so much care and won't re-build itself as soon as my back is turned.
Eventually, I may even be able to use the word 'patience' without gritting my teeth. I guess stranger things have happened.
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