Within dialectical behavior therapy we strive for the synthesis of opposing views and ideas.
That synthesis is most commonly referred to as Wise Mind.
Wise Mind is a place where we are acting neither out of Emotion Mind nor Reasonable Mind. We honor both but cling to neither. It's here where we begin to let go of some of our black and white thinking and find room for a middle path. You already know that this is a much healthier place to live.
For me, there have been two opposing views of recovery over the past decade:
• Work hard to get better fast.
• Be patient.
Finding the dialectic between the two has been challenging.
Work hard to get better fast
People who keep a diary card every day, make every therapy appointment, consistently reach out and ask for help, and put their recovery first will see some pretty significant (and lasting) results anywhere between six and twelve months. Having a mental illness can be emotionally and fiscally devastating and from a relational and financial perspective, making an investment in an evidence-based treatment like DBT can yield great returns.
This same idea is true for any goal we set in life. The harder we work, the more results we'll see. The greater the effort, the richer our reward. Hard work really does pay off.
The other side of working really hard to get better in the fastest time frame possible is to be patient.
Being patient means taking the time (even if it takes years) to figure out what works, what doesn't, and how we can from our mistakes. We learn from failure in a way that we do not learn from our successes.
Patience also teaches us an important lesson in watching life unfold in just the way it was meant to transpire.
Sometimes I wish that I had access to DBT in my teens or early 20s but now I can (usually but not always) see that things happen the way they do for a reason.
Even though we'd like for things to be different, recovery simply doesn't happen in a nice linear and predictable way. It's usually full of encouraging starts, disappointing stops, and progress that can sometimes be challenging to spot even on the best of days.
People with a diagnosis of BPD are often under a great deal of pressure to change quickly. For example, spouses may threaten divorce or well-meaning parents may insist that their child return to college shortly after a suicide attempt. For some people, these may be effective motivators for change but for others it will only be an impediment that will stall recovery.
The secret is in honoring the dialectic between pushing for hard work and being exceptionally patient with yourself or someone you love. The bigger secret is to know when to push and when to practice patience.