By Rebecca A. Watson
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. —Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Monday came around, and I was bouncing off the walls. I couldn’t get any work done; I was so distracted. I had been waiting for this day for what seemed like ages: My husband would finally be home from a week-long business trip. Yeah, it may be cute, but it also showed me that I am no good at waiting.
Of course, I knew this. And I don’t think I’m the only one. Just look at everyone frustrated in their automobiles when traffic doesn’t move at the speed they want. When I wait for the bus, I rarely sit more than a few moments before I pull out my phone to check the schedule because it’s taking “forever.”
Patience is something that’s been pulling at my heart strings for a while now. “Don’t you think we should get to know each other a little better?” it would ask. For years I’ve stubbornly pretended I couldn’t hear, but it (of course) waited patiently until I was ready.
And lately, I have been.
While I’m no saint, (I still have to talk myself into sticking around when there’s a wait at a restaurant), I have noticed there are a few things that really help me when I need to wait, whether it’s for a cashier at the grocery store or some big news from a friend.
1. Be in the Moment
Waiting for something to happen or waiting for someone to do something means that we’re thinking about the future—it isn’t happening now. So one of the things I try to do is dive in fully to whatever is happening now.
When I was waiting to hear back from a client I was especially excited about, I was kind of a mess, constantly checking my email and looking at my phone. I didn’t get anything done, and I was winding myself up into a big stress-ball. I had to do something differently. I decided that I would work on every one of my projects as if it was the only thing I had to do that day. Because I only had to get through the business hours, there was plenty of work I could be doing. I threw myself into each task and focused completely. I became so involved in other things that when I did finally get an email from that client, I wasn’t expecting it. It was a pleasant surprise.
Involving ourselves in what is actually happening instead of getting hung up on what we want to happen isn’t always easy, but fortunately it often has a momentum all its own. So just get started. You could be surprised at how easily patience comes when you’re not thinking about the future.
2. Distract Yourself: Get Creative
Sometimes being in the moment just isn’t gonna cut it. What you’re waiting for is just so big, you can’t escape it. You’re excited, nervous, on edge. Why avoid it? Why not channel your energy into creating?
Recently I was standing at the precipice of a very big life goal. In order for it to happen, a lot of things had to fall into place, and I had control over none of them. I’m sure you’ve felt this way about something. You just can’t not think about it, no matter how hard you try. So I decided not to fight it. I spent some time every morning daydreaming about how life would be. I used my thoughts to create journal entries, writing short stories. I set up an entire vision board and cut out pictures, words, and images to help me visualize my dream.
I found that by allowing myself that time in the day, I can sometimes get it out of my system. Putting that energy into something let me move on to other things and even be in the moment, which created a nice little patience snowball effect. And I’m pretty sure no one has ever complained about having too much patience.
3. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Life is uncertain. When you think about it, there isn’t much you know for sure is actually going to happen. When you’re waiting for something, this becomes abundantly clear. Really, you’re just more aware of that fact.
When I first started running, I told a friend that I really didn’t enjoy it all that much. She thought for a minute and said, “I used to think that way too until I realized I’m not supposed to be comfortable when I’m running.” It made so much sense that now I look forward to my morning run.
Once we realize that being a little uncomfortable is really what being green and growing is all about, things start to get a little bit easier. We might even enjoy the tension that occurs when we’re waiting for something. The anticipation might leave us breathless in a good way. Suddenly a little pause doesn’t seem so bad after all.
4. Connect With Your Inner Strength
When I get really antsy and can’t clear my mind with any of the other techniques, I say a little prayer for some help. Now I know not everyone is into praying—I wasn’t until recently—and there are different ways to connect with that inner strength that don’t have those religious tones.
One of my friends says she sets her intention every morning. So if she really needs patience, she would wake up and say, “My intention today is to connect with patience.” You can set an intention for your day (or hour or minute) or for a certain activity. I set one when I go running.
Meditation is another way you can connect with your inner strength. You could meditate actively to bring about patience. There are yoga postures to do that as well. We all have a reserve of strength we can call on (for more than just patience). It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you.
There’s a reason people use the phrase “cultivate patience.” It’s like cultivating any crop. These tips can help now, but it takes time, nurturing, and knowledge to let it grow. It also, paradoxically, takes patience, which means this is one of those lifelong skills we can work on.
Rebecca Watson is a Truth Advocate and Soul Connection Coach who supports women who’ve dealt with trauma and abuse to find and express their truth in harmony with their soul. A recovering journalist, Rebecca uses journaling and writing as a tool to teach women who feel unheard, broken, and misunderstood to listen to their own truth, trust their instincts, and connect with the divine part of themselves. You can read more of her work and learn more about her coaching programs at sunnysanguinity.com.