Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset. Boy oh boy do we need that right now!
I wrote a blog a while back about packing your patience when you are traveling to help deal with unexpected changes or frustrations that can arise. And today, I realized that I needed to revisit that idea. It’s time to take my patience out and wear it like armor, instead of leaving it in my proverbial suitcase. Like many people, I’ve been getting annoyed at the smallest things, and have had some hard moments during COVID-19 quarantine. This annoyance isn’t because things have been outrageously upsetting, but because I had forgotten the value of patience.
I see examples of this all around me. The young woman at the grocery store who rolls her eyes because she has to stand in a tape box on the floor to keep her 6ft away from the person in front of her. The man who grunts at the family riding their bikes when he has to move off the trail for a few seconds to let them pass. The kiddos who are beyond bored at this point and trying to find any way possible to work out their energy in a safe way, only to have their parents tell them to slow their bodies down with frustration in their voices.
We are living in a world where things are changing daily, and everyone is dealing with it differently. We are faced with fighting something that has no face, is not selective about who it attacks, and it can be deadly. Our new reality can cause us to feel incredibly frustrated and afraid because it feels like we have lost total control of our own lives.
But we do have control over some things. We can control our response to the person wearing a mask in the store because she is taking care of an elderly parent. We can control our response to the stern parent who just got laid off and is at their wits’ end with their children. We can control our response to the person with allergies whose sneeze has nothing to do with COVID-19.
The question is, will we choose to do so?
I learned very quickly as my speaking business evaporated and I started helping in my husband’s restaurant every day that I was going to have to stop thinking about being patient and actually put forth considerable effort to do so in every situation I face. So, I took my patience out of my suitcase and started wearing it as a part of my daily uniform.
When I feel impatience sneaking up inside of me, I physically stop myself from reacting. I clasp my hands together by interlacing my fingers and stop talking. I check myself and make sure my face isn’t giving off negative vibes and actually think in my mind – you have no idea what they are going through right now.
If I am reading through things on social media, I resist the desire to respond to comments or stories that I may not agree with – what good would that do anyone?
If I am having a conversation with someone and they say something that triggers my impatience, I stop talking and just listen. It isn’t that I don’t have an opinion, it’s just that right now everyone is coming at this from their own place. Instead of forcing our own ideas and opinions on the situation, simply listening is what will strengthen relationships.
These things have helped me work through the impatient moments that seem to come more often than they used to. I encourage you to unpack your patience and start wearing it every day. Pay attention to how you feel when you are being patient, appreciate that feeling, and work to bring it to the surface as often as possible as we all go through this together.