THE POWER OF PATIENCE
I’m heading to the city for an MRI. One thing I know I must take with me in large supply is patience — begged, borrowed or stolen as I have little of my own — probably one of the reasons I need an MRI!
Health experts tell us patience increases our chances of a long and healthy life, by minimalizing stressors, limiting anxiety, and reducing the harmful chemicals we inject into our bloodstream with the flight and fight response.
Research shows people, born with patience, or who have developed it over time suffer less depression and negative emotions, are more successful in their work, better able to develop a skill set, make more rational choices and experience better mental and physical health with a ‘wait not worry’ attitude.
Studies all show patient people are kinder, remaining calm instead of reacting. They exude a sense of peace that attracts others. This is certainly a state one would wish for oneself.
I don’t know why I lack patience but can certainly recognize when I lose mine. I emote, adrenaline rushes into my bloodstream, bringing a large supply of cortisol with it. My mind is in turmoil, my heartrate accelerates, I get flushed and overheated. I’m the first one to ask, “What’s the holdup?” in traffic; or suggest, “Maybe you can call another clerk and open a second line.” I’m the one who taps her toe when the plane is delayed, or sighs when the person ahead of them takes too long in a buffet line. As you can tell, my patient threshold is so low you can’t even trip on it. How high is yours?
Much of my impatience is self directed. I wonder if you are equally setting yourself up for failure with false expectations. “Why isn’t that person getting back to me, I emailed ten minutes ago?” “When will my children visit?” “Will life ever grant me the success I deserve?”
Recognizing I’m short of patience isn’t enough. I work at patching small pieces of patience over the aggravating moments in my life. I use conscious breathing, taking long, slow breathes when I feel that first adrenaline spike. I practice coping techniques such as focusing on the NOW and by so doing removing the past or future reason causing my impatience. I make peace with the words accept, submit — seeing them now as a good thing not a weakness. By adopting an “It is what it is” attitude, I come from a strong position — a position that eases me through any trial.
Experience taught me the great lesson of distraction. You can bet I’ll take my e-reader into the Imaging centre. However, the opposite – awareness – is probably the best curtailer of impatience. Being fully present stills my tapping fingers on the steering wheel, stifles the deep sigh when someone goes off topic at a meeting. I sense my impatience rising and search through my collection of patches for the most effective coping strategy.
Patience, it is said, is also a way we practice faith. For what is faith but waiting? When I gather the sturdy pieces of my learned patience into a compact pile and applique one of them to an exasperating situation, I see and feel immediate good results. I have manifested my best self – and benefit from the calm and power that brings.
Hopefully, one day I won’t need a patch because all the holes are covered. My patient waiting has paid off.