"Slow but OK" is good when it comes to progress
Updated: Jul 25, 2022
My little pup has gone blind. It happened practically overnight - and it is an unfortunate symptom of diabetes.
One things which I have read in all the articles is that "dogs adapt". Not only that but I often talk about how it is the psychology of the human mind that can make us hesitant, fearful or worried - we know and that knowing can lead us to overthink or catastrophise. Dogs on the other hand, respond in the present...I'm hungry, I need a walk, I know my home and I'm ok!
I'm struggling more than Brandy is right now. She's hesitant on her walk until she can feel the tug of the lead, and hear my voice; we've got rugs to change textures in different rooms, and have blocked the gaps in the bannisters just in case; and I've taken to "wearing" a bell (on my phone) so she knows when I'm moving about. (But she can't hear all that well either). Yesterday, I was waiting on the stairs for her, and she headed into another room in the house she doesn't normally frequent, after doing it a couple of times, she made her way back to the bedroom, and started again, finding the stairs and navigating herself down them - slowly, but surely.
Add that to the insulin injections which I've just started having to give her morning and night, the blood glucose tests - all of which I am assured she "doesn't feel"...and to be honest, I from what I observe, she really doesn't!! It's still me that's been the nervous wreck. She genuinely seems ok - she sleeps, she goes to the toilet, she eats, and she's not drinking quite so voraciously. She's slow, but ok.
I used that phrase on a message to a dear friend this morning, and his response was "Slow but OK is a good mantra." He's right.
Patience is a forgotten virtue
How often do we, especially as adults, think "I need it now!"; "I want results now!" - and worse if that outcome takes a little longer to arrive than we had been hoping, our patience wanes? I use the example of planting seeds - we do not nurture them, water them and then shout at them to grow...so why do we do that to ourselves?
In part it is our fast-paced culture. Information, conversation, distraction can all reach us within the touch of a button. Of course technology is responsible for a number of wonderful developments too, but it has also drawn us away from our state of human "being" to one of human "doing"...and now "doing too much".
We fear to "press pause" in case we lose out, or miss out; we over-commit because we fear those who ask will go elsewhere; we see being busy as a status symbol...and yet a moments' breath may allow us to question whether we really wanted what we think we might miss; whether those who are asking give as much reciprocally or simply take because they can; if being well might be better to aspire to.
In many of my articles, I will often suggest mindful practice (learning to breathe deeply so that the affirmation "Even if I can't control anything else, I can control my breathing" may be able to allow you that headspace; or reflective meditation to review your day in a "safe" environment and set a positive intention to move forward), but today I thought I would give you 5 tips that can calm your mind - while not needing to spend much time in it.
1. Jigsaw puzzles/Sudoku/The zentangle
Rather than candy crush - which powers up adrenaline and dopamine as you pass the time; consider instead a jigsaw or a sudoku puzzle. Or, if you don't have anything to hand, try a "zentangle". The "zentangle" is a doodle within a rectangle border, where you draw whatever you like - squiggles, shapes, letters, numbers until you have filled the space. Not only will you have allowed yourself a moment to breathe, but if you never thought you could be creative - you've got something to show for it as well.
2. Engage in a "healthy substitution"
If you have done everything you can in pursuit of an outcome, and you simply have to let time work its magic, turn your attention to something else. This can be a pursuit you enjoy, or ideally, one that moves you towards a different goal you have planned. Perhaps you have some personal development reflection questions you can ask yourself; perhaps you might plan your next goal strategy; perhaps you simply want to spend a moment to admire what you've done (and if so, photograph it and save it to remind yourself).
If personal development is your thing, try the following questions:
How could I be kinder to or support myself?
How could I be kinder to or support others?
What would I still like to learn and how could I do so?
Do I have one to five good friends I can trust and count on?
Do I feel energized, neutral, or let down about my work?
Am I in good health or pursuing it to the best of my ability?
Do I spend my free time doing a variety of enjoyable activities?
What core principles/values (e.g., honesty) do I have, and how does my way of living reflect them?
3. Keep an "impatience jar"
Like the "swear jar", every time you catch yourself either beating yourself up over not doing something "fast enough" - when it is out of your control; or perhaps feeling impatient with others - again when you know things take as long as they take, put some money - OR even a positive affirmation you can use instead - in the jar. (You can then gift the jar of positive affirmations to someone at a later point!)
4. Keep a tracker!
Sometimes we "think" something hasn't changed, grown or improved, but that may be because the difference is slight. In the same way as you might track your run times, weight or your food, consider tracking the improvements being made. Perhaps you might even do this in the form of gratitude practice eg: I'm grateful that today, my dog was able to run around in the garden with confidence (she was!) This has the added benefit of allowing you to see just how long certain things take!
5. Intentionally delay
I've written in a previous blog that I'm one of those people who opens their presents on the day they arrive, and "Impulse" can be both a charming trait of mine...as well as a strain on my wallet and time! Instead, learn to delay gratification - whether it's waiting to have a dessert or sweet treat; or even to watch that Netflix series with your partner at a time you both can enjoy it!! An affirmation I like to remember is "What if your enjoyment of the outcome is in direct proportion to the patience you exercised?"
And in terms of my sugar-baby (which the fabulous "Pettest" blog for diabetic pets call them) - well, she's doing ok. Her glucose is coming under control - slow but ok; she's mapping the house - slow but ok; and we're learning what works best for her - slow but ok.
My husband also reminded me there was a time when a corneal ulcer threw my sight out completely (why I wear my glasses instead of contacts now)...it took me 3 months to recover, and even now (3 years on) I have to use drops and see a consultant for dry eyes...it's slow, but I'm ok too.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience.