“Lord give me Patience, and give it to me now.”
This represents the problem that most of us have with Patience. I’m not talking about the patience required to wait for the light to turn green. Get over it.
The Patience that’s really a challenge is waiting for a life situation to shift, change, or evaporate (in the case of an intractable problem). It’s so difficult to simply do “the next right thing” instead of over-reacting, over functioning, or over caring (what this looks like is worry and anxiety). Sometimes you have to have life beat you up a bit to get this message (see Wisdom).
There is always the thing itself, the problem, and then our feelings about the problem. It’s in the feeling area that impatience breeds. I like this quote from The Heart Math Solution by Doc Childre and Howard Martin.
”With a force of their own that must be honored and appreciated, emotions consistently transcend reason in our lives.”
Getting head and heart to work together is the challenge of a lifetime (and what Heart Math is all about). Childre and Martin refer to this as Coherence. The coherent state not only feels good but also is indicative of health. We intuitively know that impatience isn’t good for us.
Whether it’s cooking, car repair, childcare, or photography, Patience serves us well. Take the example of the photographer willing to wait for the light to be just right, or, to take a dozen shots to get the memorable one.
Nature is patient. As a child lying on your belly in the grass watching ants, you were an observer of this. You still can be, if you choose. While you’re at it, you’ll notice a miracle or two. The same kinds of miracles occur in your life all the time. Like the caterpillar on it’s way to becoming a butterfly, the situations in your life, patiently observed, offer mini miracles daily. Sadly, we’re so busy worrying and becoming anxious for things to change; we miss the process, the journey, the present.
So, how do we get it, the elusive quality known as Patience? Since I’ve been looking for it for more than five decades, I may be able to offer some tips.
1. Break a problem down into small bites (after all, you can only do one thing at a time).
2. Slow down and breathe.
3. Stay in your own business, it’s more than sufficient to keep you occupied.
4. Keep your fear from interfering (see #2)
5. When in doubt, do nothing
6. Hang out with patient friends (other’s anxiety is contagious)
I’d like to suggest an exercise for you to do for 1/2 of a day. Monitor your thoughts and actions for impatience. Write it all down. Count everything from waiting for the kettle to boil to wanting your partner to say or do something differently. Review your list and decide if you want/need to make a commitment to emotion management. Count it as a gift to yourself. Your heartbeat will slow and your blood pressure will go down naturally. Let me know if it’s working for you!