Photo Credit: Naassom Azevedo,


I’ve heard that patience is a virtue. After brain surgery on the right side of my brain, the left side of my body decided to just rest, or occasionally twitch.  Sometimes my arm or leg tingled or twitched while I watched in amazement.

Physical therapy was supposed to reunite the nerves in my arm and leg with the nerve signals in my brain. That was fine . . . but it was taking too long.  I wanted this process to take weeks and it was taking months. There were people in therapy with me who’d been there for years!

Patience was what my therapist advised. The level two part of me, that I’d named Conrad, “the conflict king,” had to hold my tongue so I wouldn’t tell the therapist where to put his “patience.”


In physical therapy last week, we practiced an advanced activity–standing up from a sitting position in a chair without pushing up with my arms. There’s actually a science to doing this, along with principles of physics.

First, I had to plant both feet parallel and aim forward. My left foot liked to angle towards the left, so this move was already hard work. Then, I had to scoot forward to the edge of the chair. However, when I scooted, I looked like someone lurching off something hot.

Next, I was to lean forward, head first, with my arms crossed over my chest so I wouldn’t be tempted to use them. Last, when everything was in place, I launched myself forward and upward while pressing firmly on those feet. My children had done this when they were toddlers.

I pushed my head firmly into my therapist’s chest the first three times I launched myself off the chair and he held me stable by hoisting me up by the safety belt anchored at my waist.

“Patience,” he said soothingly. I grimaced, imagining Conrad, the level two mascot for anger. I wanted to kick the therapist, but I would’ve toppled over. “This is muscle memory,” he said.  “We have to show your nerves a new way to do what your body knew how to do before. It’ll come, but you need to develop patience. It happens one small step at a time.” Then, I wanted to kick him and smash his head with something. However, I smiled between gritted teeth and tried again.

The next five attempts at standing up yielded two successes. Last year, I walked four miles AT LEAST ONCE a week. How can I do this? I asked myself.  What would Rebecca, the level five “win/win or I don’t play” part of me do?

I would have to give something to get something back from my body. There would have to be goals and steps to achieve them. I’d have to see the bigger picture, too.

William, the wise, calm aspect of me, with the level six understanding of how everything needs to work together in harmony to achieve anything lasting would remind me to be in rhythm with the body I have now, not the body that’s a memory. I would have to re-think patience in relation to goal-setting.


Edwin Locke developed a theory of goal-setting and motivation that’s very helpful and similar to the AIM-smart program in iPEC coaching. Goals help people stay motivated long enough to accomplish tasks–especially difficult or complicated tasks. He said clear definitions of the outcome you want and reasonable, rewardable steps to reach that goal make it easier to get what you want.

To overcome my frustration, I’d have to use both the practical, level five advice about outlining ways to stand up from a chair, and the emotional support from level six so I’d see standing up from a sitting position as the goal instead of walking four miles.


Patience requires seeing progress in smaller steps. It was a victory when I stood up twice, not defeat when the therapist had to keep me from falling over three times.

The goal could be to stand up easily and smoothly five times in a row. The first step to reach could be to stand up easily and smoothly once during a session. I already did all my leg exercises faithfully once a day, but I’d been advised to do them twice daily. The steps to make that happen would be to do all the leg exercises in the morning before I started the day and after my nap. I’d set time goals for each of the tiny steps, not for taking salsa lessons or walking in a marathon.

I could use this same practical and loving system to lose the weight I’d gained, too.  (We’ll talk about that in a subsequent article!)

Do you have a large task you’re struggling to accomplish? Are you struggling with changes in your body? Do you wish you had more patience? Contact me. We can work on patience so you can accomplish what you want to accomplish.

Photo Credit: Naassom Azevedo,