“Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re doing it.” -Jon-Kabat-Zinn
Something I find myself having to work on a lot lately is patience.
I’ve never been a person who likes to wait for things. If I’m being honest, I tend to want things done immediately and I have a hard time living in the space between “no longer” and “not yet.” Just like a five-year-old, my inner child wants things done her way, right now, and doesn’t understand why she has to wait.
Life, however, doesn’t always (read: usually) work in favor of that little girl’s wishes. Good things take time to build.
But…what if, instead of filling up with frustration, anxious energy, and pressure while waiting for something to come about, we just…relax, and use the time in the in-between to enjoy life and what’s right in front of us?
When things are out of our direct control, the pouting, anger, pressure and mini tantrums don’t do any good. Rather they just send us deeper into a frazzled state of being.
We basically have two options while waiting for something to come about:
Option 1: We spend our energy all day, every day, stomping our feet, cursing our circumstances, and frantically rushing about trying to force something into our existence.
Option 2: We take whatever action we need to/can in a calm manner, and turn our attention to the present moment while we wait, knowing that we will eventually reach whatever it is we’re seeking out.
Imagine a child on a long car ride with her parents. That child will naturally squirm about, cry, and constantly demand to know “Are we there yet?!” However, all the energy the child is expending will not change the outcome of the car ride. The family will not get there faster if she complains and screams more. In fact, it might even delay them since the parents will have to deal with the tantrums.
Of course, in the real world, children don’t generally have the capacity to rationally think about their behavior. They want what they want when they want it!
But what if we could approach our inner child behavior with the rational knowledge of our adult selves? We could tell ourselves that the anger and frustration is not helping. We could encourage ourselves to do what we need to do to move forward, relax, let time pass as we wait for what we want, and try our best to remain in the present moment through it all.
If we approach the in-between in this way, we drastically change the quality of energy we’re putting out. We go from worrying about the future to living in the present moment. We go from hurrying to relaxing. We go from frantic frustration to calm acceptance.
Whenever I find myself generating energy of pressure and frustration, I try to comfort myself as I would a small child. I tell her that everything is okay. She’s safe where she is. I tell her to try to enjoy what is in front of her in the meantime, and to take the next step whenever it feels right or doable.
I tell her, we’ll get there eventually. I promise.