Turning the Page

Good things, like Mental Health, take Time. Let’s be patient

November 21, 2019

We all want immediate results. A change to our situation, but Mental Health recovery takes time, so let’s be patient with ourselves and others.

‘I wish this would go away’ were the unsaid words messaged in the face of despair, looking at me.

I had seen that gaze many times, and with compassion, I would have loved to have given them a miracle sweep of a magicians wand and see their depression leave, the memories of trauma retreat away, the marriage restored, the grief softened.

We live in an immediate world. With the gentlest of touches on the screen of a smartphone, we can get instant results.  But the healing of a broken soul can seem interminable. 

No Shortcuts

Of course, there is a time for pace, to get to the desired location quickly and efficiently, but I have found in my own life and others that in the healing of the soul, in Mental Health recovery, there are no shortcuts.

If a so-called shortcut is found and taken, then it seems that you wind up back where you started in the first place, still facing the problems and the pain.

Short cuts to relieve the pain might be a preferred addiction – drugs, alcohol, porn, hobbies, sex, shopping. Anything that offers the briefest of moments of avoidance. We also like to minimize, fix the problem quickly, move on, move.

We slap a bandaid on the wound without cleaning out the pus, and we think we’re done.

Mainland Cheese

We have a brand of cheese here in New Zealand called Mainland cheese. Its made in the South Island, and part of its branding message is that it takes time to make good cheese.

The advertisements feature images of beautiful South Island scenery and peaceful music. It’s like stepping back into another time with two elderly gentlemen talking about the old times. It’s very nostalgic.

The message is that ‘good things take time.’

Mental health takes time. Reflection time and brain change time.

Reflection time

When you look into a mirror, you see the image of yourself a fraction of a millisecond ago. It’s the speed of light, but it is history you’re looking at. So you comb your hair this way or that. You apply makeup, or you shave that bit of stubble you missed.

You observe the reflection and learn from it.

Experience is not a great teacher.

I have seen people have the same experience over and over again. They do the same stupid things repeatedly, and never learn from them.

They haven’t taken time to dig deep into what has gone on, why they repeatedly do the same thing over and over again. They have a blind guide, and it’s themself.

Mental health grows out of deep and sometimes painful reflection. Taking time to embrace the reality of the struggle fully.

Good things can’t be rushed. It takes time to sit and ponder.

Brain change time

It’s so good to know that our brains are capable of being rewired. That we can have new networks laid into the physical structure of our brain. This, of course, takes time.

I would love to be able to see the rewiring of my brain from when it was at its most depressed/ anxious state many years ago to where it is now. Old pathways are dying off, new ones growing, and then falling away as even fresher and more unique paths take their place.

Brain change is a process of unlearning old ways and learning new paths.

Its an evolving creative garden of neurological delight.

In the past, when I have been asked to pray for the healing of someone with a Mental Illness, I have prayed for those small little neurons to change physically.

That is where Mental Health miracles take place.

Most people want an immediate change to the way they feel and think, but that would be a too radical change for anyone to handle.

Mental health healing is slow and gradual. It needs to be. No one could handle a brain transplant the way we emotionally want it to happen.

Patience, please

There is some good work going on, but it takes patience for the maturity of the cheese to come.

Patience, not pushing, demanding, or pressuring yourself to be something you’re not ready for. There is a natural healing that has to take its own time.

There is a practice to be had of acceptance and then stepping out and trying new things. Patience grows out of an awareness of our limitations but with a gentle hope for something more.

The size of a neuron

Imagine all the billions of neurons in your brain. Super tiny, all firing off little electrical messages that help you do everything you do.

Some of those neurons have run their course in your life. They were useful once, but now after careful reflection, you want to learn some new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. That may seem daunting to you, but let’s keep focused at the size of a neuron. Super small, you want to see change.

Form a habit of small.

Prayerfully ask God to help with the rewiring of your neurons.

I have lots of suggestions in my free ebook  Four Spiritual Exercises for Mental Health. 

Also, there are links below to other articles that can help.

Quotes to consider

  • Where there is great love there are always miracles. Willa Cather
  • Experience isn’t the best teacher, evaluated experience is. John C Maxwell
  • We must die to one life before we can enter into another. Anatole France 
  • A good journey begins with knowing where we are and being willing to go somewhere else. Richard Rohr
  • Changing behaviour by use of will-power alone will soon result in playing the same tune, but in a different key. The problems just move sideways. D. Riddell

Questions to answer

  1. Why do we want quick solutions?
  2. What changes have you noticed in your Mental Health due to your spending time in reflection?
  3. How does love create a context for Mental Health miracles?

Further reading

Barry Pearman

Image cc: Alexander Maasch

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