I think of myself as a patient man, but there are still times when I’m not patient. Yet I know the more patient I am, the easier things will be for me in the long run. Like waiting in lines at the grocery store or department store check-out. What good does it do me to be impatient, when there’s nothing I can do about the situation? Impatience just leads to (more) frustration. Or like if someone cuts me off in traffic. It makes me angry, but it still doesn’t change the situation. Where if I were more accepting (more patient), I would just think something like, “Well, that person is in more of a hurry than I am.”
Of course, we can’t always be this rational, though, can we? Still, developing patience is a good idea for all of us to practice. The more patient you are, the more you will be willing to accept things the way they are instead of how you would like them to be. This is a concept called mindfulness. Your loved one might be learning about it in their therapy sessions and may have talked to you about it.
Patience is more than a virtue when you’re dealing with bipolar disorder. It’s a necessity. If you’re caught in traffic, for example, instead of being impatient and getting all frustrated, you need to just accept what is happening, and use that time to relax or breathe.
Have you ever heard the expression: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.” Well, Richard Carlson, PhD wrote a book called that, and offers some useful advice here. He suggests having “Patience Practice Periods.” He says that you should start with a small amount of time and build up to a larger amount of time. He says that you start by telling yourself: “Okay, for the next five minutes I won’t allow myself to be bothered by anything. I’ll be patient.” Once you’ve mastered five minutes, you can go longer, until you really do actually become a more patient person.
Being patient allows you to keep your perspective, instead of that perspective being clouded over by frustration or even anger (at something you can’t change) or stress. For example: You might find yourself frustrated by your loved one’s lack of progress. First you try the “Practice Patience Period” that Carlson talked about. If that doesn’t work for a long enough period, think of it consciously this way: “My present challenge is not life or death. It just is.” You can’t change your loved one or their behavior anyway – only they can do that. And if you repeat the above enough times, you might actually find yourself accepting the situation much better, and having less stress over it. You can even teach it to your loved one, which will help them have less stress in their life, which will help their bipolar disorder.
Being more patient can be a conscious thing to do, if you practice what I’ve suggested. It will also lead to less stress and complications for you. Try “Practicing Patient Periods” for yourself and see how they work out for you. I think it’s a great way to become more patient with your loved one and their bipolar disorder. Think of some things you do that help you to be patient.
Try doing more of these things.
Well, I have to go!