An honest and insightful piece from one of our in-house counsellors here at Anglia Counselling, Penni Osborn. Here, Penni covers the topic of patience and the many benefits it can bring to all. On the cusp of a New Year, resolutions will be at the back of all our minds; will patience be one of them?
I see so much impatience these days. But then society offers everything we could possibly need or want in an instant; instant credit, instant acceleration, instant pain relief, instant coffee. So, I suppose we can hardly be blamed for expecting there to be a magic wand at our disposal whenever things go a little pear-shaped or an unexpected curveball hits us.
Call me old fashioned, but much of the #impatience I see is on our roads – ridiculous speeds and dangerous manoeuvres, petulant horn honking and middle digits that look like they’ve had an attack of cramp. Click To Tweet
I have been left incredulous at some of the things I’ve witnessed; not only the antagonistic behaviour of drivers themselves but also at the miracle that has prevented them from doing serious harm to other road users. What’s the rush? Maybe leave home five minutes earlier and drive within the speed limit? After all, they are there for a reason…
There is yet another type of impatience I see often, in my therapy room. But this one is different; this is the impatience borne from loving someone struggling with a mental health condition, particularly when newly diagnosed.
Sadly, due to the nebulous nature of mental illness, we are often left bewildered as to what help is best as we have no idea of how long that help will be needed or how we are going to cope with this new way of being that has been thrust upon us. This is when patience becomes the most powerful gift.
For both ourselves and our loved ones, #patience is one of the greatest kindnesses we can introduce to a new and stressful situation. #mhuk Click To Tweet
Rushing to mend, feeling overwhelmed, yearning for yesterday and being fearful of tomorrow is a three-course dinner for stress that will drain your emotional tanks in no time. What’s the rush? If you are able to reduce your internal ‘speed limit’ maybe things will look a little more manageable and you will be calmer and more able to problem solve and support the one you love, ensuring a quicker return to a more peaceful existence – even if it is different to ‘before’.
“Patience is a virtue” is a saying I remember well, from childhood. I was often berated for being impatient. I suppose I could take that as a cue to stare at my belly button and rue the lack of parental understanding for my child-like spontaneity and emotional freedom. However, I think I was probably quite annoying, so I’ll take it! Back then, I thought “virtue” was something holy and sacred, but my interpretation now is that it means kindness, morality and goodness. We already know that when we do good things for others, we also feel good. Being patient is an act of kindness that can be applied not just to others, but to ourselves. It means being comfortable holding space until the time is right to act – effectively.
Impatience, on the other hand is, for the most part, counterproductive. Being impatient about what we want to achieve, who we want to be, or where we want to get to, can trigger stress and its related symptoms and possibly impulsive and sometimes even reckless behaviour or unhelpful coping strategies; the repercussions of which can resonate far longer than if patience had been employed in the first place.
I value patience. I spend much of my travel time driving on single track country lanes. There, drivers have no choice but to be considerate to other drivers, otherwise they risk losing a wing mirror – or worse. The awareness and acceptance of these driving conditions by all, creates a camaraderie that leaves me lifted every time I drive along these lanes; the ‘thumbs up’ from the lorry driver when I pull in for him, the polite wave from the lady in the 4×4 when I pull over for her, the feeling of human connectedness and happiness when a tractor pulls over and waits for me – and the pleasure it gives me to wave my hand in thanks to them. We are all employing the power of patience; slowing down and accepting that, to get where we want to go, we need (and benefit from) both co-operation and understanding from our fellow humans, but mostly, we need patience.
So, when I’m pulled up on a muddy passing place, waiting for an oncoming vehicle to pass, I know that good things really do come to those who wait!
Why not make 2020 the year of patience? With all the poverty, illness, unrest and indecision going on in our world today, a global ‘deep breath’ and the active employment of patience could just make a difference; if not to the events themselves, then at least to how much they are able to negatively affect us. This, in turn, may give humans the space for positive thoughts and more creative and spiritual energy, that one day may shape a kinder and more tolerant world.