Playing the waiting game
“The hardest thing about ‘everything happens for a reason’ is waiting for the reason to come along.”— Unknown
I have started and deleted the opening sentence of this column no less than five times this week, which, for me, is unusual.
Usually when Thursday morning rolls around, I sit down and hammer out a draft for next week’s column in under an hour.
My theme in place, my thoughts in order, it’s usually an easy task.
Today I am attempting to write about something that I am not very good at myself — waiting.
This is not to say that I am not patient; just the opposite.
I am an extremely patient person.
When I have a goal or objective in mind, I am quite happy to stick to the plan even when the circumstances require that I take no action at all for an extended period of time.
As long as I feel I am making progress, patience is my ally.
Waiting, however, is something else altogether.
The waiting room (as I have discovered) is the place you fall into when you lose patience.
Waiting is a nasty little game you play with yourself when you could be putting your thoughts and energy to better use — a place where no chair seems comfortable and even your favourite sweater suddenly seems suffocating.
And the more you try to wait, the harder it is to remain still until you just can’t take it one more second.
And if you are a “reactor” personality type, you do what any reactor does when it overheats — you explode into action (frequently doing something rash that you later regret).
But if you are a “reflector” personality type, you take all of this discomfort in stride and accept it for what it is — a sign that you do indeed need to take some kind of action but the action that you most need to take might well be to ask yourself why you are getting so stressed out about the situation in question in the first place.
More often than not you will discover that it is your own inner voice (what Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, fondly calls “the critic”) that needs a little help to see the situation more objectively rather than taking any outward action.
And even in situations where outward action will be required, a “reflector” personality type will still take the time to sweep the waiting room inside themselves clean, before deciding what to do in order to ensure that they are not letting any personal bias or weakness cloud their ability to see the situation clearly and formulate a wise course of action.
Having said all of this, let’s face it: even the best of us will lose their patience now and again but there is only so long that you can wait around when you do.
Patience, as they say, is a virtue and requires you to look at life with both eyes open — and open both ears as well.
Listening to others for their advice (hopefully well-intentioned) can sometimes help but — and here’s the trick — listen to yourself. No one knows you better than you.
So, what’s the takeaway?
Being impatient comes with life for all of us. It is not a bad thing, just frustrating at times. But recovering it always starts by reminding yourself: this too shall pass.
Robin Trimingham is the managing director of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a business consultant, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or firstname.lastname@example.org