It is only temporary. This was the thought that helped me the other day when I was feeling particularly stressed and anxious. I had this light bulb moment, when I realized that the problems which cause my anxiety are almost always temporary. Many stressful situations are time limited and so is our anxiety. Time can be on our side in rewarding us with solutions or choices to most problems we encounter. It also dawned on me that I waste a lot of time fretting and feeling stressed over issues that simply need a bit of time to get through or resolve. In this post I am going to discuss some real-life situations where my "It's only temporary" mantra has helped me to handle stressful situations with greater ease.
One example which quickly comes to mind was my struggle with technical devices earlier this week. I had written previously on computer stress syndrome and how I feel it is a real issue in today's digital world. This time it wasn't just my computer giving me problems but also my iPad. In some ways these gadgets create more needless complexity in our life instead of making things easier. And subsequently these devices can cause anxiety especially when they aren't working properly.
I did an update on my iPad (notice how you are constantly being urged to update programs on your devices?) that went horribly wrong and I was left with a blank screen. All my data had been erased and I had to find some way to retrieve it. My computer was being unhelpful by not recognizing any external devices such as my iPad. After fiddling with these things for several hours with no resolution my nerves were beginning to fray. We also have an ancient desktop computer downstairs which is over ten years old now. Amazingly it still does basic functions but is on the extreme slow side. I was having some success with restoring data to my iPad using our technical dinosaur. But this also happens to be the same computer that my son with autism uses for his Disney Magic Artist Studio software which he draws with every day. This drawing program is so old it uses Windows 98.
After an hour of chugging through a restore process for my iPad I went to the bathroom. Big mistake. My son had ripped out the USB cord and all that time was wasted. At this same moment my son was becoming agitated that his drawing program was not running. By sheer coincidence the phone was ringing at the same time. How I wished that I had a pause button for my life at that moment so at least I could deal with one thing at a time. No such luck.
I had been playing phone tag with a doctor's office all day to find a neurologist for my son. You know how it is: Press one if you are an idiot. Press two if you want to talk to an idiot. Press three for irrelevant information. Press four to leave a message that someone may or may not respond to within an unspecified amount of time. Press five if you are currently pulling out all your hair in frustration. Press six if you have forgotten why you are calling in the first place.
Please note that humor is one of my coping mechanisms for dealing with stressful situations.
This was the call I had been waiting for all day as my son was hanging onto my hand to pull me away to find his Disney art software. With one hand I held the phone and with the other I loaded the CD. Ah the art of multi-tasking The woman on the phone proceeded to tell me that we could get an appointment in February (mind you this is November) and that the neurologist specializes in treating patients with autism but not patients with epilepsy. A little background: My son recently had what we think may have been a seizure. This was a few weeks ago now. We are still trying to find a doctor to conduct an EEG. The nurse on the phone suggests that we have my son's pediatrician make a referral to get him seen by a second neurologist who specializes in seizures. She reassures me that these other specialists are located at the other end of the medical building. If I understood her correctly my son is so complex that we need not one but two neurologists. Right. So in essence we are back at the beginning of this doctor-finding process. I thank her and hang up the phone feeling dazed and confused.
Nothing was making any sense. I felt as though I had wasted an entire day fighting with either machines or the medical system and getting nowhere. I had nothing to show for my efforts. I sunk into the couch weary and defeated. My iPad screen was still blank except for an image of a white cord telling me to connect to the iTune store. You know you are in trouble when you start talking to your devices. "I tried. I tried to connect you. It didn't work." The stress of disconnection to both people and machines was taking its toll. But then a thought entered my weary brain.
"It's only temporary."
None of these problems are unsolvable. They just require time and patience. I would somehow find a way to fix my computer. I would find a way to restore my beloved iPad. I would find a neurologist for my son. Amazingly I did fix my iPad. And I did get our family physician to contact several neurologists who could help my son. Again, patience is key. We are still waiting for a call back on a doctor referral. My computer is still not working properly but perhaps this is a sign to buy a new laptop in the months ahead. In time these problems I have devoted so much worry time to will be solved in one way or the other. And then new problems will take their place. I just have to remember my mantra of most problems being temporary.
The problems that time and patience cannot heal or resolve...now that is a different topic for another time.
We would love to hear your thoughts. Do you ever find yourself completely stressed out over temporary problems? Does it help to take on the perspective that most problems can be resolved in time? Share your experience with us.