Danger, Opportunity & Wei-chi
By Anna

Learning from books

I am a self-confessed bookworm. So naturally, when it comes to my mental health, I turn to books for as much information and self-help as I can possibly find. Recently, my counselor recommended that I try reading Living Magically by Gill Edwards.

I started reading the book today and I have already come across a phrase that I find very poignant and inspiring. Wei-Chi, the Chinese word for crisis, has two meanings: danger and opportunity.

Reading this phrase gave me a flash of hope, a light bulb moment. If crisis is a place that I am ending up in far too often at the moment, maybe I also need to recognize it as an opportunity. An opportunity to do something about it, a cue to change.

A cue to change

I have also been reading various self-help books for BPD based on DBT. In those books I have come across a very similar idea. When feeling suicidal, instead of impulsively acting on the thought, I came across the idea that I should notice the thought mindfully and use it as a cue to change. My mental dialogue should be something like:

‘Ah, I see I am having thoughts of suicide again. I accept those thoughts and that my feelings are valid. The fact that I am having these thoughts means that I need to change something. If this is so, can I put my finger on what the trigger for or cause of the thoughts were? What can I do to change this situation so that I am less likely to encounter the same trigger in the future?’

In this way, my moment of crisis is both dangerous to me and also a cue for future change. Wei-chi.

Not easy to learn

Although this has been a eureka moment for me, I also acknowledge that this change in thinking is going to take a while to learn. This skill encompasses elements of mindfulness, radical acceptance, validation, distress tolerance and problem solving. It will be no easy skill to learn and put into action.

In the heat of the moment, it will be much harder for me not to act on impulse than it is to write my script out here when I am calm. But at least now I have found an alternative. I have a way to look past this crisis and acknowledge that my life can go on, it just needs to go on in a different way.

That in itself is a scary realization for me. I have no fear of death left in me, but I have a fear of the unknown. Change is difficult, change is scary. But change cannot be more scary than my crisis, change cannot be more difficult than ending my life. Can it?

While I continue to try to get my mind around this new way of thinking about crisis and the possibilities it might hold, I’ll leave you with that definition which bought me a flash light. In the hope that in your moment of crisis it will help you see the light as well as the dark, the opportunity for change as well as the danger of the moment.

Reproduced with permission, originally posted here: Wei-chi

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