Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing, to let a situation be. When we’re going through a situation not to our liking it’s tempting to push for a speedy resolution so we can close that box in our brain and put it back on the shelf, all squared away tidily. Loose ends, vague sentiment, undetermined outcomes: they are stressful. Not being in control is stressful. Perhaps you are the sort of person who drives yourself into overwhelm and anxiety trying to find the best action to take, chasing each possibility to its end until you become immobilised by indecision. Maybe you’re the kind who believes in action and you try to force the situation to fit your needs or desires. Maybe you prefer to distance yourself from what is making you uncomfortable, either by removing yourself physically or by ignoring what’s happening and hoping the problem will resolve itself.
I have always believed in the concept of “if you don’t like something then change it”. On the surface it’s a great idea. Don’t like your job? Then get a new one! Don’t like being fat? Then eat healthily and exercise! Not happy in your relationship? Then leave it. Feel bored? Then do something. Cut and dried, black and white, textbook absolutist thinking from a person raised in the eighties to believe that life was ours for the taking if we just worked at it.
How do you stop your mind wandering down Anxiety Avenue?
There is a problem with that approach, however: you can’t control anything outside of your own thoughts and actions. It’s fine to get off your arse and take control of what’s bugging you but if what’s bugging you involves other people then you may have to accept that they aren’t always going to see things your way, agree with you or want to co-operate. It has taken a loooong time for me to accept that you can’t always change a situation as quickly as you’d like or even, sometimes, at all and that no amount of “reasoned explanation”, arguments or pushing is going to make a scrap of difference and probably will make things even worse. So what do you do then? How do you deal with the discomfort of enduring something you don’t like while waiting for it to change? How do you deal with the temptation to do something to push it along a little, even if you suspect it won’t help and may make things worse? How do you handle not knowing the outcome, that fear nagging at you that you won’t like what’s coming next? How do you stop your mind from wandering down Anxiety Avenue? How do you stop all that thinking? What if the stakes are really high – love, money, housing, health kind of high?
You deal with it. It may sound harsh but in truth the only way through the anxiety is to tough it out. You can do all kinds of helpful things, meditation, distraction techniques, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), hypnosis, counselling, prayer, but what it all comes down to is confidence in yourself and your ability to manage your feelings when everything plays out to its ultimate end. Sometimes you have to have the confidence to choose to do nothing; to refuse to wear yourself out with worry, to resist the fear, to refuse to act on your frustrations but instead wait and let it all unfold. Wait for the “yes” or the “no”. Wait for the news, wait for the results.
Patience is an active choice: when you have done all you can do then let go and trust yourself.
Patience is not the same as doing nothing. Patience is an active choice: when you have done all you can do then let go and trust yourself. Patience is the confidence that you will be able to handle any outcome without trying to force events to fit your needs or desires. Patience is being emotionally resilient, knowing that you can meet any situation square on, that you are good enough, smart enough, strong enough, loved enough – especially by yourself – and that you will be okay, even if your circumstances suck and even if things don’t go your way.
Patience is looking life straight in the eye and saying, “Take your time, I got this”. This year I am going to work on patience and allowing things to happen naturally. I know I have got this, I believe you have too. Together we can explore how to become people who can trust in ourselves to wait life out.
Patience is confidence.
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