Patience is a necessary virtue for life management that lowers stress and leads to decisions based on thoughtfulness and clarity. It is a way of being that improves our experiences, calms our frustrations, and transforms challenges into growth. Patience is a powerful practice that can enhance every aspect of our life.
We all have plenty of elements of our lives that could keep us in a crazy, frustrated, victimized state, but that is an awful place to live. In that state we often try to force an outcome that doesn’t work because our attitude, thinking, and behavior lack calmness and clarity. Yes, it’s upsetting when we accidentally delete a computer file, see politicians and police behaving badly, or experience delayed medical test results, but losing our cool won’t help. Impatience only makes things worse by keeping stress levels high.
Let’s remember patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation – it means power. It’s the power of choosing to wait and knowing when to act. It’s the power that comes with being mindful, focused, and compassionate. It’s the power to choose how we will handle everything from a major crisis to daily hassles, with healthy boundaries and non-hostile behavior, so defensive reactions are avoided. Patience allows us to feel all the emotions that go with life’s challenges, while trusting the process we’re in to take us where we most need to go, whether we understand it or not.
As with any virtue, practice is needed, so here are a few suggestions for developing the power of patience. Let’s remember that even though choosing patience can be difficult, especially when we want immediate changes, it’s a choice that’s within our power. We can start by breathing deeply, which is calming and moves us from tense thoughts to relaxing our body, which breaks the automatic stress response. Remember: what we focus on we attract, so let’s be clear on what we want to invite into our life.
We practice patience when we take time to look at the big picture and acknowledge that frustrating people and situations can be a source of personal growth. Asking ourself, “What do I need to change in myself to help this situation?” is a good place to start. Until we address our part in the scenario, we can’t expect other people to address theirs. We become more patient when we accept what is, even though we may not like or agree with what is happening. When we stop fighting with the way things are, we open ourself up to creative problem solving and the chance for peaceful resolutions.
Patience grows when we practice gratitude, appreciate life, and see beauty around us. Slowing down gives us time to value the richness of life, and patience allows time for things to work themselves out. Rather than insisting on a quick fix, we can choose to wait until we know what to do next. If we are patient, it will come naturally and harmoniously, and we will feel empowered.
When we are kind to ourself, our patience grows. Let’s recognize our strengths as well as our faults, and welcome areas of weakness as places for growth. One tool for personal growth is to write thoughts down on paper, which lets us examine them with clearer perspective. We can see what’s unhealthy and holding us back so adjustments can be made. Many of us have given our kids a “time out” to reconsider behavior – sometimes we need to give ourself a “time out” so our bodies and brains calm down. This opens us to greater patience.
Patience comes when we recognize our Higher Power, because then we never need to feel we are handling life alone. Spiritual practices strengthen our ability to hear our inner intuition, which opens us up to guidance. We can live in the knowledge that all is well, despite outward appearances. This helps us patiently let go of the need to be perfect, have all the answers, and be the one in control. This is where we find love for ourselves and others, and respect for the growth process we are all in together. When the power of patience is combined with love, the results can be life changing.
If you’re like me, in one of those times when I wish I had the answers but don’t, together let’s remember what Rainer Maria Rilke said: “Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.” Patience gives us the power to live the questions. And patience can prepare us to learn the lessons we need to learn for changes to happen when the time is right. Blocks will be removed as things get worked out in ourselves and others, so our job is to relax and trust. The power of patience gives us choices that can change even the most difficult situation. Let’s not give this power away to knee-jerk reactions – instead let’s embrace the transformative power inherent in patience.
Until Next Time – Sylvia