impatience is an emotion. patience is a skill. like all skills, patience is a life skill that can be practiced until application can be made more easily than when you begin.
the relationships that we invest in are truly rewarding. our hearts hope that they will make us happy beyond belief. talk to a young couple before their wedding day or before the birth of a new baby. the heart is full of expectations for the future. it is when reality meets those expectations causing disappointment that frustration surfaces.
when my daughter was five years old, my husband and i decided that we wanted another baby. it would be three more years before the birth of my son. there was the first expectation that met frustration. we had a timing in our mind and yet there was a long period of time to wait until we received confirmation that we would have our second child join the family. if you have ever planned to start or continue your family only to have reality present an alternative timing, it is heart wrenching, frustrating and painful. once he was born, we were elated. then came the sleepless nights. he did not sleep as well as my daughter had. it was a shock to the system after eight years of normal sleep routines. i would have difficult days of weariness that were trying. we made it through the sleepless nights, finally. then as a toddler, he began too bite other children. do you know how embarrassing and stressful it is when your child harms a friend’s child? this was not going as it had the first time around or the way i had expected. this lovely, beautiful little boy was the delight of my heart but he was trying my patience…in many more ways than i ever desired to endure.
what was i to do? i was not enjoying those moments i was living. i wanted to fast forward to easier, more enjoyable days, the future seemed so distant and far away…when life as i had hoped it would be would appear.
i was given advice to “be patient”, encouragement that he would get through the stage(s) and things would settle down. we often think another person should find patience easier to conjure up than we do in our own difficult situations. we mean well… we do…but we find taking our own advice impossible when faced with our own circumstances that evoke frustration, anger or pain; a stubborn or distant spouse, a self-destructing teenager, a special needs parent, a bullying boss, or a rude stranger.
i was irrevocably and inescapably stuck in the moment—my feet were tied to it. had i writhed and hollered as much as i wanted, i was still not going anywhere. i was there. immobile.
the available antidote was patience. it speaks of self-control, restraint, delayed gratification, bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance; tolerance and persevering. it was not my idea of a party that i wanted to attend. yet, it was necessary.
the revelation for me was that patience is a skill, not an inherited trait i happened not to inherit. it leads to relaxation, not self-harnessing. it gives you the freedom to have a pleasant time even when the baby gods are playing with you. it converts the helpless rage of impatience into a delicious sense of spaciousness.
patience creates more space between impulse and action.
impulsiveness causes you to act hastily. patience creates feelings of peace and calm, as opposed to the anger and frustration that often arises with impatience. impatience is on the anger continuum. first, you have irritation, then impatience and then anger and, at the far end, rage. patience keeps your anger turned off.
so, how do we practice this skill and develop patience? how can we apply patience, so that frustration goes away, outrage cools, and peace is yours?
1. accept that whatever is happening right now is the way it is. accept that you are here, living this moment as it is. coming to terms with reality helps you to focus your emotions.
2. apply persistence. that’s the capacity to keep on going even though you can’t yet see the end result. it’s what keeps us moving toward our goal and thus helps us make our dreams come true.
3. practice cultivating a sense of peacefulness, serenity or calmness in the face of what is. address poor, learned behaviour such as ranting, fretting or working yourself into a frenzy. stop, breath deeply, count to 10 (or 100), or separate yourself from the situation until your emotions return to a calmer state. whisper a prayer or recite calming scriptures. many find repeating the serenity prayer helpful.
4. focus on your goal of healthy relationships and perfected love.
5. focus your effort, energy and skills on problem solving. pursue wisdom in order to find a solution, this will produce a more effective result.
6. trust yourself, apply compassion when you fail at applying patience…practice makes perfect…keep going…all skill development requires time and practice, practice, practice.
today as i planned to write a post on practicing patience, wouldn’t you know, things did not go to plan. i woke not feeling well. i faced a busy work day. and my husband seemed to want me to help him do something every 5 minutes, and in the midst of all that i lost half of the post before i was able to publish it. opportunities to practice will present themselves. it never fails. i had to laugh at myself and my situation…
i told myself, “dee, love is patient…” and i made the 100th cup of coffee of the day as requested and began to reconstruct my post.
patience is the first and possibly one of the most difficult steps to producing genuine love in the heart. it is a skill. if you find impatience surfacing in your heart, do not fear…you can apply wisdom, practice this skill and develop real love…love that will not fail at building strong, fulfilling relationships.
the next we will explore the fact that love is kind.
i hope you will join me,