We can choose to react to any one thing, any one person, any one task with either willingness or willfulness. We can greet people, ideas, solutions with open arms, giving at least one first open-minded chance (as in willingness). Or we can refuse to get up, refuse to examine our reality, and refusing mostly, well, for the sake of refusing.
There is generally little rhyme or reason to willfulness, and when you think you can put a reason or an explanation to it, it is still wrong and any explanation doesn’t “fix it.” You are staying closed-off, staying silent (or being really loud), you are complaining instead of accepting your fate or listening to the advice that might make it better. You are not giving anyone or anything (including yourself) a fair shake.
Having spent most of my life in a willful state, I had a huge breakthrough in an intensive DBT program. I think this particular breakthrough was in the neighborhood of 2007, but I’m not sure — because DBT has saved my skin over and over, and there is always a new realization, it is difficult to keep track of the specific “when’s” which is really fine, because why and how matter much more than when, as it comes time to freeing yourself from negative coping patters and interjecting brand new ideas into your mind about how you could possibly cope, if you tried.
My particular breakthrough was simply this: willfulness made my life dark and painful and difficult, and mindfulness set all that negativity free, made me a happier person.
Unfortunately, these lessons don’t always stay stuck in the brain, so every now and again, GoM gives a gentle nudge or QoB will say something or I will read something that sets my chest to loosening. And I remember, just how much happier I, Rosa, am, when I set my heart and mind on being willing, becoming willing, practicing willingness.
Freeing myself from willfulness is perhaps as easy as just practicing. It’s not hard, and now that I’ve been quite willful for the last several months, it is time to make that tiny adjustment, and tweak my mind and heart back to willingness, back to progress, back to believing that I can save my own emotional skin with the power of mindfulness, meditation, and for me, writing.
Yesterday’s goal, to blog every day no matter what, was validated by several commenters and I really do appreciate that. I think it will be helpful, and can actually already feel it helping. If you can just get the awkwardness out of the way, and start to write what you believe in your mind, you can go places.
Having been heavy into not accomplishing and not working on goals lately, it struck me that I wasn’t listing anything that I personally felt was important. They were the goals of other people. From today forward, all new goals will ones that I personally desire to achieve.
In keeping with the necessity of mindfulness practice in DBT, and the importance of practicing practicing practicing, I am making the small goal of setting aside at least ten minutes every day for mindfulness exercise. I know it will grow larger than that on its own, but it’s where I wanted to start.