Patience. . .
We live in a time where everything can change at an accelerated pace. No protocol exists for a time like this, no wisdom upon which to rely or set a course to follow. If ever there was a time when we should show patience, it would be now, right? Patience is that natural power we have within ourselves to wait for something without getting angry or upset. The longer we must wait, however, the more patience escapes us. In our changing world today, it’s no wonder that our patience is being tested.
We all want to feel or be better as quickly as possible, an understandable goal in our achievement-driven world. The common misconception prevails that if we push ourselves, we will drive ourselves toward reaching our goals. This is simply incorrect. When we are inpatient with ourselves, we reject parts of who we are, judge ourselves harshly, and speak to ourselves unkindly. Do thoughts like “I should be used to this by now,” “I can’t get anything done,” or “I’m so exhausted all the time; there must be something wrong with me” sound familiar? This lack of patience blocks change because we deny ourselves support and knock ourselves down. This leads to lack of motivation to keep trying, and we end up stopping before we’ve really ever started.
Focus on progress, not perfection – Think for a moment how you would talk to a child when learning something new. You would likely offer this child encouragement and support while passing off mistakes and errors because this is how kids learn and grow. So, why would you speak to yourself any differently? You wouldn’t blame a child if they didn’t get it right the first time or get frustrated along the way. Even as adults, we never outgrow the need for gentle, supportive guidance. Try focusing on the progress you make and what you learn rather than beating yourself up for not doing it right or aren’t far enough along. The same goes for others too. When your partner, a neighbor, co-worker, or stranger at the store acts in an irritable, unhelpful, or unkind way, try giving them the benefit of the doubt. We easily imagine the worst in people, but we never really know their story or what situations they come from. We can safely assume that these times present difficulties for everyone. We all deserve a little grace when we fall short now and again.
Practice – Like anything else, learning to garner patience with ourselves takes practice. Research shows that waiting makes us happier in the long run. Give yourself the opportunity of time to earn your reward and resist the urge for immediate gratification. For example, try the following:
- Allow someone to go in front of you in line at the post office
- Really listen to someone else’s opinion without interrupting them and before you respond
- Watch half of a movie one night, and the other half the next night
- Wait a few moments to begin eating when you sit down for a meal
As you practice, you will begin to gain more patience, and may even realize that you feel calmer, can come to agreements more quickly, and feel happier overall. Changing your internal dialogue provides the most helpful practice you can do to develop the patience that resides within you. Change isn’t easy. Quick fixes reside mostly in theory, and lasting change takes time. We will experience challenges, and we may even go backwards at times. Long-term success includes small steps in the direction of your goal. With calm, controlled perseverance and loving kindness, you will achieve patience and the understanding needed to do whatever you’ve set out to do.
Peace and Love, Jim