As I sit here on the beach in Costa Rica, one word keeps gently crashing into my mind: patience.
What I see and feel is that patience has become a lost art. We are told, especially in the West, that we deserve and should receive everything we want – now. But this is a lie and a major source of stress.
The art of cultivating patience is multifaceted. It involves patience for one’s body, mind, spirit and, ultimately, one’s life. This same encompassing view of patience also applies to everyone and everything that we encounter in life – regardless of whether we agree with them.
Impatience usually arrives as resistance in disguise. Resistance to what is, is how I define the cause of stress.
For example, say that your partner is taking forever to get ready for dinner. As you wait on the couch, your emotions escalate:
Yellow alert! After a few minutes of waiting, the initial signs of resistance creep in: impatience, irritation, frustration. Sound familiar?
Orange alert! Twenty minutes later, your frustration has boiled into anger. Your blood pressure is rising. Tension digs its claws into your forehead. “They always do this,” you say to yourself. “Every time we go anywhere, it is the same, old story.”
Red alert! Another 20 minutes later, you are starving. Your reservations have expired. Your resistance to what is happening in the moment intensifies – until you explode. The next words out of your mouth turn venomous: “Let’s fucking go! What is your problem? Now we are late again, as usual …”
Dinner is ruined. Intimacy is off the menu. The night is burned.
I like small examples to illustrate how impatience spawns stress and unhappiness because of what a client once said to me during a coaching session: “The way we do anything is the way we do everything.”
If we are impatient with the small stuff, then we certainly will be impatient with the big stuff.
The key is that we always hold the choice: We can resist the present, or we can change our relationship to it. Regardless of the magnitude of the situation that we find ourselves in, we can melt impatience with one, simple act: acceptance.
Acceptance has the power to shift our experience.
If resistance to what is creates stress, then acceptance to what is removes it.
The choice between resistance and acceptance is not always easy. But we do not have to like something to accept it or to appreciate its value.
I do not always enjoy waiting for my girlfriend to get ready, but I do enjoy how she looks as a result. I also enjoy how she feels as a result of getting done up. I am sure that she appreciates the space and time that I give her to feel ready too.
The foundation for acceptance is trust.
Whatever is happening in the moment is meant to be. If it were not, it would not be happening, would it? Trusting this truth offers us the opportunity to cultivate patience and to embrace challenge.
What a beautiful gift every challenging moment truly is.
Because these moments invite us to grow. They let us discover, hone and harness our power to make our lives easier, more spacious and more enjoyable.
Learning to be patient with yourself is transformational because it will give you the power to accept exactly where you are in each aspect of your life in each moment of your life.
Imagine the feeling of being patient with your yoga practice, your physical goals in the gym, or your aspirations for your diet. Imagine how it would feel to be patient with your career, your partner, your children, or even your spiritual growth and life path.
Can you feel how granting yourself the space and permission to be exactly where you are in life will remove your resistance to, well, yourself? To elaborate on my client’s wisdom: The way you are with everything and everyone reflects the way you are with yourself.
To cultivate the power of patience:
Tell yourself that you are exactly where you need to be in this moment. Whenever you find yourself getting impatient with yourself or others, use these mantras:
“I am where I am supposed to be.”
“They are where they are supposed to be.”
I know this is true for you. It is now up to you to know it for yourself.
You are where you are supposed to be. Be patient and, with time, you will know this truth too.
Are you ready to cultivate patience and other skills that will disarm and dodge stress? Contact me about stress management coaching.
A Maur Unity collaboration, edited by Maura Bogue
Nick Palladino-King teaches students and clients how to reduce stress, to increase happiness and to elevate health through yoga, wellness coaching and strength training.