Guest Contribution from Dr. Thara Vayali
When we turn over a new leaf – such as in the new year, closing a chapter in life, or creating a plan of action for change – we tend to imbue that shift with an urgency, a haste to see the fruit of our efforts. This urgency can sometimes result in the same type of frustration that arises in daily situations when running errands, commuting, and interacting with others who don’t agree with us.
When frustration arises from the choices we make, the energy generated can help us by motivating us to get creative and choose alternatives that suit us better. It can refocus us to switch to a more appropriate goal and it can allow us to recognize how important the goal is for us. But this type of frustration is active and positive.
Frustration has a cousin named impatience – a more gnawing emotion that doesn’t let go and move forward. Impatience can drain from our capacity to make change. Impatience is a boiling within, a festering annoyance.
Our work, whenever life takes a turn away from our plans and impatience gets the better of us – in traffic, with new resolutions, with co-workers, while waiting in line – is to use tools to practice patience. Patience is not only a virtue; it can provide a more useful solution.
Although it may not seem like the most appropriate action in the moment, it is the choice that eats up the least of our energy, energy that would be much better used toward doing the things we want to do. Impatience takes more energy than patience.
Impatience: a restlessness and agitation with the current situation. There is an intolerance for feeling irritated, an inability to manage delays. This pacing, whether frenetic or calm, tends to have a tight grip on the need to know the future.
Patience: not an inactive state, it is not surrendering to fate, nor condoning poor behaviour. It is specifically not biding your time nor biting your lip, which it is often mistaken for. It is a devotion to the moment and a choice to see the current situation like an adventure; accommodating for new unpredictable obstacles. Patience is the capacity to take a step back and choose again. It is a loosening of one’s grip on ‘needing to know’.
The rising energy of impatience often shows up with thoughts such as: “I’m not sure where this is heading”, or “I don’t like the direction this is heading”.
- When those statements start arriving, ask yourself: How much energy do I want to expend on alleviating anticipation/disappointment?
- Then, can you take a deep breath when you notice you are triggered to anticipate what will or won’t happen next?
- Next, can you check to notice whether your grip on “needing to know” is tight or loose.
- And, if your grip is tight, can you ask yourself “Could I loosen my grip in any way?” By breathing, empathizing, smiling, going for a short walk – the options are endless.
- It just takes a moment to catch our impatience and ask it to slow down.
The choice then is to either commit to continuing along with our intentions or changing directions, but that choice is best made from a patient mindset.
When we are impatient, it usually has to do with our reality not meeting our expectations. It takes energy to expect the world and its movements to conform to our personal rules. That valuable energy could be used to mobilize our own best choices. When unexpected and sometimes undesired situations pop up as roadblocks on a charted journey, remember that when we interact with the world, we will inevitably be pulled off track in moments.
Imagine a feather floating down from the sky. On watching, one could feel either an urgency or an ease for the feather to find its way to land, but regardless of feelings the feather will float quietly to the ground at the pace of the natural world. If our impatience gets the better of us and we attempt to move it along, by blowing on it or waving it, we end up expending energy with minimal returns. The more we hurry a feather along, the more difficult it becomes for it to travel and land along its path and destination. Don’t sweat the journey – breathe deep and manage the gusts as they come.
Patience, little feather.
Thara Vayali is a Naturopathic Doctor & Yoga Teacher in Vancouver and is also a UBC alumnus. She is obsessed with intestinal and immune health, hormones, and pain-free bodies. She is the creator of Change Natural Medicine: Budget conscious, membership based health consulting.