Oh how many things I have to say about this topic. Patience. I don't really love the word patience... it implies that I am having to wait for something I want. And I don't really enjoy waiting. I mean, who does??
In our fast-paced world, we have become accustomed to instant gratification.
Even so... waiting is still an inevitable fact of life. We wait in traffic, we wait in the supermarket line, we wait for our food to come at restaurants, we wait after we've had a job interview and are hoping for the job, we wait for the webpage to load (my biggest pet peeve!), we wait to hear back from lovers, from friends, and from family. With so much waiting involved in the game of life, we better learn how to have patience, or we are going to spend a lot of time being frustrated and angry (and who wants to spend their time being those things?!)
Patience = Calm & Stillness
Patience is letting go of anxiety. It's letting go of control. It's not giving up, avoiding a decision, or not taking action, but it is accepting the timing of the universe and enjoying life in the meantime.
Patience is creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.
I want to share a time in my life when I was NOT exercising patience and the lessons I learned from that experience. 3 years ago I was living in Washington DC, traveling the east coast and having an amazing time, when out of the blue I was offered an opportunity to move to Las Vegas for a position as a director at a Charter School as their Character Development Director. Sounded like a good fit for me, and I'd always thought it would be fun to work with middle school kids, but Las Vegas? Really? Feeling pretty directionless at the time, I decided to take the opportunity and made the move.
That began the absolute hardest 6 months of my life. Wow, I can't believe it was only 6 months... seemed like an eternity. While I enjoyed my job, was making wonderful friends in Las Vegas, and definitely was making huge progress in my life, I was sorely unhappy. My days were filled with worry and my nights were anxiety-ridden and often sleepless (I seriously hardly slept that entire year.) I felt like a zombie walking through my own life and didn't know what was wrong or what to do about it.
I constantly worried that I wasn't performing my job well enough, that I wasn't doing the right thing, that moving to Las Vegas had been the wrong decision. I stayed up at night researching other places to live and what other things I could be doing with my life. I told everyone I met how much I disliked living in Las Vegas, how ugly I thought it was, and how unhappy it was making me. I resented the people that brought me there, not taking responsibility for my own choices or showing gratitude for the opportunities that had been given to me. I was miserable.
Looking back now I realize how that entire year could have been different if I would have just exercised patience and calm.
Yeah, I didn't know what I was doing and I wasn't sure if I was in the right place or what to do about it. And yeah, I hated the brown houses, dust storms, and rock-filled yards. And yeah, I desperately wished for my life to move on and give me the opportunity to move to the greener side (aka California), which I ended up doing. But after I did, I wished that I had enjoyed the journey and had had patience and faith in the timing for my life.
I missed out on friendships, joyous moments, and beautiful opportunities to serve because I was so worried about my life and how it was going to work out. I am so grateful for this powerful lesson because it changed me for the better.
I learned the power in taking thoughtful action in the direction I wanted to go and then having the patience that things would work out in the perfect timing.
One of my favorite things that came to me during that time was the idea that the only real choice that we ever have to make is that of having Faith. Patience = faith in the right timing.
So.. how do we do this?
Here are some steps that will help you to change anxiety as a lifestyle > patience > peace.
1. Look to God. - Exercise the practice of bringing your thoughts to a positive energy source.
2. Find Peace. - Have 10 thoughts plugged into the notes section in your phone that bring you peace. These can be lyrics to songs, pictures, kind words from friends, scriptures, etc. Just have them at the ready for whenever you need to bring your mind back to a place of peace.
3. Lay out the possible solutions in your mind. (or on paper works well too.)
4. WAIT for the answer to find you. (This is the one that changed everything... have PATIENCE!)
5. Enjoy the moment while waiting. - Relax and have FAITH that the answer is on its way to you and will find you at the perfect moment.
Guess what? The end of the story is... I ended up moving to California... but not to San Diego like I had originally planned, to San Francisco which stole my heart and hadn't even been on my radar. That city brought me the answers to the questions I had so desperately been seeking as well as the relationships and the knowledge to make it happen. Things fell into place in an exact way so that I could pursue exactly what I had my mind set on. The kicker is that...
None of those things would have happened if they would have happened in any other timeline.
They happened in the exact perfect way which had been orchestrated by a force greater than me. And I am so grateful they did.
Brene Brown said, "Calm and stillness take practice but as we get stronger, anxiety loses its hold and we gain clarity about what we're doing, where we're going, and what holds true meaning for us." (Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection)
And in case you're still trying to figure out how patience relates to self-love, try it and you will find out. :) Self-love, aka self-care, involves doing all we can to make sure we are staging our minds to think the thoughts which bring about the feelings we want to feel. Love, peace, happiness, and joy come from having faith and having patience in the process.