Relax that trigger finger, pilgrim

Two ornate pocket watches, one opened, one closed, their chains crossed over each other

I’m a very impatient person. I think fast, move fast, talk fast. And on the flip side of that is a particular weakness of mine: if I’m not able to do it fast, I don’t want to do it at all. I go through life naturally inclined toward now, or never.

So, naturally, there have been some pretty big challenges in my life around the issue of patience.

Quite a while ago I learned a technique that helped me to be patient with other people: Detachment. By maintaining a distance, by consciously keeping a more impartial view, I was much more able to grant people the patience they deserved and required.

Which is all well and good until you just can’t keep them separate. Until you realise ‘shit, I’m invested’.

In those situations, I first like to explore whether I should be invested, or whether I’m getting overinvolved. Because sometimes, when you do that, you realise recommitting to detachment is the right way to go.

But there are always going to be situations that you are, rightly, very intimately involved in, that are demanding patience. And those are the ones that are going to make it really fucking difficult for you to be patient. Especially if, like me, you’d rather just sort it, do it, have it NOW.

Now, I do think practicing a healthy detachment to all outcomes is an important goal on the road to self-mastery. To be invested in something, and to be okay with it going south, is an incredibly powerful state to be in. But not many of us are all the way there yet. I certainly get a little patchy, myself.

So, when we care too much to let go, how do we learn to give things time?

Some situations are made of stone – we can bang against them, scream at them, ram a Landrover into them, and they aren’t budging. Those aren’t so much the problem, honestly. It might even be healthy for us restless folks to unleash our frustration upon them, because it isn’t going to do anything.

The problem is the delicate situations. The situations that need priming, or gentling, or incubating. The ones we totally fuck up by flying in all guns blazing in the second scene.

So what can we do to stop pulling the trigger when we know it has a high likelihood of leading to disaster and doom? When we want something that’s just not ready yet?

I can’t say I totally have the answer. I still fire test shots, because I just can’t stop myself.

But something that helps me is reminding myself of the longer term view. How do I want this situation to look in ten years, if it’s even going to matter then? How about twenty? Forty? Hell, with the miracles of modern science we could live forever! In twenty years’ time, wouldn’t you rather have taken the time to build something properly? Is it going to matter to that future version of yourself how long it took?

Now, I know some of us legitimately feel that we don’t have that kind of time. And for that group of us, we really need to double down on the healthy detachment. But, on the bright side, the people with the least time are usually the best at detaching from outcomes – that’s a superpower offered to you as time runs down.

No matter how much or in what way we struggle with it, patience is a virtue for a reason. The more we can cultivate it, the better our experience of life will be.

And the absolute beauty of patience is the energetic change in enacts in us. When we take the pressure off of the outcome, and by proxy off of ourselves, we instantly expand. We release. We grow. And we allow the situation to grow too.

Tell me, do you struggle with patience? Are you a master and have some tips for me? Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts and questions – I’d love to have a conversation with you!

[photo by Rodion Kutsaev]

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