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I missed DBT for two weeks because I was in Chicago. Last week was my first week back, and it was a good one! I learned about "willingness", We had to watch this video of Marsha Linehan, who is the creator of DBT. She was talking about willingness. I always love analogies and metaphors, and I guess that is why the metaphor she gave really "spoke" to me. It went like this.
Imagine you are a batter in front of a pitching machine. The machine is pitching balls at you, one after the other. You have a few choices about what you can do in this situation. You can:
1. Protest, get upset, fight, and yell at the pitching machine to stop. (But the balls will still keep coming.)
2. Stand there and passively watch the balls as they fly past your head.
3. Ignore the balls and pretend that they are not there.
4. Stand in front of the pitching machine and let the balls whap you right in the face.
5. Use your bat and try to hit the ball!
For me, this was a good analogy to help me deal with a lot of the anxiety and frustration that I deal with... for instance, about substituting jobs. Being "willing" means accepting the fact that something is happening that you can't really change. The machine is pitching balls at you... it is happening, no matter what. I have to somehow work and earn money, no matter what. My mom has cancer, no matter what. These are things that it won't do any good to shout about, or try to avoid.
To me, trying to hit the ball means being just going out there and trying your best. Realizing some of the balls might whiz past you, some of them might even hit you... but some of them, you will hit... and some, you might even knock right out of the park!
So today, when I went to work, I tried on a whole new attitude. I was really nervous and anxious ahead of time, but I just thought, "I am going to face this. I might be anxious, but I can deal with it. Whatever happens, I'll survive it."
And I actually had a really good day! I only had to work four hours, but it was as a teacher and not as an assistant, so I made as much as I would have made in a full day as an assistant! I worked as a Title I teacher. That means I pretty much worked with small groups of kids, for half an hour at a time. Even though some people warned me that the Portland suburb I was going to was a rough one that I should try to avoid, it turned out to be a pretty nice school, and the kids (even though they were "regular education" kids, because Title I works with children who are just behind in their skills but are not particularly eligible for special ed) were very nice and respectful and fairly well-behaved.
The teacher I was subbing for was actually there part of the time, because her meeting got cancelled, so she sort of observed (not on purpose... just as she was passing through the room) me working with a reading group of 4th graders. They were talkative and had trouble focusing and sitting still, like 9 and 10 year olds can be, but I think I did an okay job at managing them and getting them to practice reading. Later, the teacher said she thought I did a great job with them, and asked if I'd be willing to sub for her again!
I decided to take a swing, and I hit the ball!
I am definitely not saying that my anxiety is cured now. I am still anxious. I'm just saying that this has helped me be more open to facing things in spite of my anxiety. And I just accepted a job for the rest of the week (as an assistant... always a gamble to decide whether to take an assistant job or hold out for a teaching job, but I decided to just go with it) and although I am going to be nervous, just knowing that I am going to "take a swing" makes me feel a lot better!