Patience is not my strong suit. In fact, I’d go as far to say that my lack of it has been responsible for significant frustration in those people that know and love me. But no one has been more frustrated than me because I’m aware that my being impatient makes the thing that I’m seeking seem further away.
Impatience is one of my life lessons. It’s something I continue to trip over as a reminder that I’m not there yet. “There” being a point where I can flow more than flit. Some days I do it well. Other days, my internal Speedy Gonzales is responsible for my heart racing and head spinning for no reason other than “I Want It Now” fever. I want it done. I want it over. I want the next thing.
Surely being a little impatient can’t be that much of a problem, though? Well, a little bit of anything is usually not much of a problem unless we are talking crystal methamphetamine or heartbreak (just ask an addict or dumpee). And yes, I see it, too: Impatience is a driver for action. It can help us to stop tolerating circumstances we don’t want to create circumstances we do want. Indeed, in a world where we celebrate everything from overnight shipping to fast-tracking education, impatience appears to be our Western way of doing things.
Impatience is a driver for action. It can help us to stop tolerating circumstances we don’t want to create circumstances we do want.
Unfortunately, for we impatient ones, I’ve seen firsthand that impatience has the power to delay or amplify the thing you’re determined to rush. I’ve seen impatience delay healing because someone was so convinced they should’ve been healed by now that they gave up doing the work (okay, that someone was me, but I’ve also seen it in too many clients to count). And, I’ve seen it delay grieving for the same reason. It amplifies the sense of urgency and frustration in seekers who are running on a life timeline that life refuses to adhere to.
The thing is, an impatient approach discounts the value and importance of being in-between. In-between is where changing and growing happens. It’s where we are no longer where or who we were, but not yet there or who we’ll become. By rushing the in-between, you are robbing yourself of an incubation period – the precious time it takes for the conditions to be favourable enough for growth.
What about the things in life that might take longer than is acceptable to you right now? What about the things that come with no timeframe at all other than the one you have made up in your head? How on Earth do you sit in the in-between when your internal Speedy Gonzales is desperately pumping the accelerator?
By rushing the in-between, you are robbing yourself of an incubation period – the precious time it takes for the conditions to be favourable enough for growth.
Did you know that the Left Prefontal Cortex (the part of the brain that does the “smart tasks” like logical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and planning) does not finish wiring itself until women are around the age of 24 and men 28? That’s more than a quarter of our lives spent reaching brain maturity. Although it’s not fixed (the brain has the capacity to continue growing and rewiring until the day we die), look at the pressure we place on young people to know what they want to do with their lives. Look at the gravity of choices we ask them to make in a rush, or risk feeling left behind by society if they haven’t got it all figured out by the time they leave school. Young brains need time. Experience. Love. And yet … the media and our education system and perhaps the people in mentoring roles rarely communicate this.
Finding … A job, love, purpose etc.
I am a proud seeker. I never want to stop seeking because doing so satisfies my desire to learn, grow, and have curiosity as a platform for doing so. But when we attach our happiness to a pre-determined outcome that we’ve decided should arrive from our seeking, then happiness may not only seem elusive, but almost impossible. Otherwise known as, “I’ll be happy when …” syndrome, we can become stuck in an emotional holding pattern if we delay our joy until we have the new job, the Big Love, our purpose in life.
Learning and Mastering
What if your career is not where you thought it would be now you’re 25? 38? 53? And what if you can always be better in your chosen field – that there is no such thing as an expert because you’re an artist and always learning, mastering, and mastering anew? What if you desperately want to change career but the idea of giving time to learning a new profession keeps you stuck – because you don’t have time? When I was a first-year psychology student, I sat in a lecture hall with at least 100 other students when a student in her 70s jumped from her front row seat and did the splits as proof that age doesn’t matter. I still can’t do the splits, but she had a good case for impatience blinding us from seeing possibilities.
Healing, Grieving, Forgiving
Are you getting the point that there are things in this world that cannot, or refuse to be, rushed. Like slow-cooked casserole, the three-toed sloth, and emotional processing. Like conceiving, learning to trust again, and defining boundaries for your care/time/energy budget. Please don’t let anyone tell you that healing, grieving, or forgiving has a timeframe. Just as trauma can happen in a day or over a decade, piecing your way back to yourself will define its own unit of time. You’ll come to know this as your period of transformation. It will be the period where you forgave, even when you didn’t approve. The period where you healed, even though the scars are still visible in a certain light. And the period when you accepted loss, and found a way to take it with you … where you learned that grieving and moving forward are not mutually exclusive.
I don’t know about you, but if there was an easy way to fire my entire Board of Internal (Negative) Commentary & Judgement, I would have done it by now. And I probably wouldn’t have a job helping others learn to love themselves. Perhaps learning the art of loving ourselves is lifelong. It’s something you convince yourself you have because it’s easier to think about it than do the daily practice. The presence of self-love depends on daily deposits of loving, gentle, and compassionate words and acts towards ourselves. If something needs to happen daily for the rest of our lives, how on Earth can it be rushed?
Speedy Gonzales still lives within me, but I’m much better at kicking him out of the driver’s seat. If you’ve got control over it, feel free to go at your own speed – whatever that may be. If it’s not within your direct control, then I’ll see you at Patience School as we continue to practice flow over force.