The Skill of Being Patient
There is an urgency that is ruining us in today’s culture. We must have everything right away and we get upset when we don’t get our way. When I catch myself in these behaviors, and I am mindful enough, I ask, “Why am I behaving this way?” The answer is always FEAR! We are afraid of being late. We are afraid someone will judge us or be upset at us for being late. We are afraid of not checking off everything on our list of things to do, which will make us feel unsatisfactory. We are afraid if we don’t do it fast enough, we won’t get home early enough to have a moment to ourselves, where we can breathe and find some peace. So, we clench our teeth, take the corners too fast and we fail to take in any of the joy of that moment.
We keep forgetting is that peace lies in this moment. The problem here is that rushing and insisting things go to our expected timeline is setting us up to have discomfort.
Patience requires us to accept and tolerate difficulties and delays, without getting angry or upset. So, how do we practice patience when we are being followed by anxiety all day, every day, particularly for those who have an anxiety disorder such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety (GAD) or a specific phobia? This questions also applies to those who have other disorders such as and Eating Disorder (Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder), or Body Focused Repetitive Behavior (hair pulling or skin picking)?
Lets take a look at a few examples of how anxiety requires patience.
“I want anxiety to go away now”
Patience involves the practice willingness to feel anxiety. Patience is going about your day while experiencing the anxiety you have. This is the golden rule for managing anxiety. If you are running from anxiety or pushing too fast through it, you are creating an anxiety monster. Patience is willingness and compassion all rolled into one.
Patience will involve not getting angry or condemning yourself for having this fear. We tend to play the blame game when we are struggling, thinking that an appropriate amount of blame and shame will teach us to no longer feeling this way or prevent feeling it in the future. This also applies to not blaming others. Our anxiety is ours. We cannot blame others for it. Even if someone does something that makes us anxious, we must work to heal our own hearts and learn how to manage it.
I want to solve the problem RIGHT NOW! I need to know the answer RIGHT NOW!
This is where patience is needed most; when you want something you have not got. This is where you have to loosen your grip and make a lot of space for uncertainty.
We have to develop a deep respect for the natural unfolding of time. Just because it is unknown, does not mean it must be known. Your job is to be patient with the feeling of “un-knowing” and trust that things will happen at their pace.
Again, loosen your grip, or loosen your reins and take a look around. Consider, that the answer is right in front of you. If you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or anxiety, and you are on a mad rush to find the answer to an obsession you are having, it might be that patients IS the answer. It might be that madly finding the answer IS the problem. We must slow down. You take a breath and you take note of all the other things that are going on. You notice that the clouds in the sky remind you of a warm winters day when you were a kid. You actually taste the food you are eating. You really look your partner in the eye. You slowly take the corner in your car.
Maybe you are overwhelmed with the societal pressure or self-imposed pressure to be better, faster, smarter, better looking, healthier, free from anxiety.
Sometimes the faster you try to achieve something, the longer it takes. If you choose the fast, wont-stop-for-anyone pace, I can almost guarantee you that you wont make lasting relationships. Its really hard to get to know someone and connect with them when you are living a rushed life, unless they are running at the same pace and enjoy the direction you are heading. The trick here is patience and compassion. We must slow down and acknowledge that we are growing at a pace that is just right for us. You are exactly where you need to be and the pace will find you. This might be hard to take, but that’s where compassion comes in. With compassion, you acknowledge how hard this is for you, right now. You accept that many others (basically any human with a heart beat) must accept that we don’t get everything we want right away, nor should we want to. There is no shame is slowing down.
With patience, we get to slow down and see that a lot of what we own in our house and in our life is filler to make us feel like we are going places faster. When we are patient and mindful, we can observe ourselves better and begin to see a lot of our pure and natural beauty. We get to notice all that we are. It was there all along. We were just speeding, too fast to see it.
Patience is willingness to be uncomfortable and compassion for self and others, all rolled into one ball. It is a skill that will reward you greatly, if you learn to make friends with it.