Patience is not the ability to wait

By 21st August 2017Self awareness

The following is written for those of you who are highly motivated and proactive in moving forwards in life, and yet regularly have a feeling of being ‘stuck’. Note I use the phrase ‘feeling of’ rather than saying you ‘are stuck‘. 

“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while you’re waiting.” (Joyce Meyer)

This quote, with slight variations, keeps popping up in my social media feeds. One of the sources has been Calm’s social media  –  one of the meditation apps I use and would recommend.

Joyce Meyer is a Christian motivational speaker and I actually don’t know that much about her (other than vague bio info on Wikipedia) so I’m not going to go into detail about how it might apply to her teachings as that would be for another conversation. So for all I know, her context is completely different to mine.

For me this quote can be interpreted in relation to an observation I’ve made while coaching some very motivated and accomplished individuals. I’ve noticed how patience can take on a very specific significance when we’re taking steps towards a goal. A strong resistance towards patience can lead to quite a surprising contradiction whereby those of us who are constantly on the move and working the hardest can feel the most stuck.

Sometimes we become so committed to the idea of instant gratification that we don’t even realise we’re supposed to be waiting. Don’t get me wrong, instant gratification has plenty of benefits. It’s just that sometimes we forget that if something doesn’t provide instant results, it doesn’t make it wrong or mean we’ve opted for the wrong route! So how could we possibly not realise we’re waiting? Our uncomfortableness with any sort of delay can lead us to questions ourselves and feel we are clueless about what we need to do to make progress. Often we’re actually already in action taking steps towards  the thing we want, but our commitment to wanting quick results has clouded our perception of success. This can cause negative thinking such as ‘I have no idea what to do’ or ‘there’s something wrong with me’. If we continue down this road of thought, we may eventually lose all hope and give up on the thing we actually really want altogether (without recognising we were on our way there!).

Of course, there are times we may need to change our approach and explore different routes to progress before we find the one that works for us. Yet often we also need to give ourselves permission to take time to learn. Change (or transformation if that’s where you’re headed) requires allowing a degree of vulnerability to surface – being willing to accept there is plenty that we don’t know that we are now willing to discover (without deciding that we must be stupid) in the process.

So I’ll leave you with something to consider in relation to Meyer’s quote. The ability to keep a good attitude while waiting [to reach your goals] requires first noticing that waiting is part of the process! You can be in action but still not satisfied with your progress because you’ve got sucked in to believing you need things to happen much faster. I’m not saying slow down (although you might want to) I’m just saying remember to notice your route and give yourself credit for what you’ve done and are doing rather than getting overly anxious about what you haven’t yet done.

Feel like this post resonates with you? Want to talk about it? Drop me a line or leave a comment below. 

Helen Williams

Author Helen Williams

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