I have had a lot of life circumstances in which I have had to practice living with patience recently.
Patience with our medical system as Deaken finally gets a diagnosis after four weeks of illness, and now heals from mono.
Patience as Quinton serves a long and painful punishment for an impulsive choice that caused a 12-game basketball suspension.
Patience as Jamie and I return to couples counseling to try to find tools to navigate this season of life while not turning to unproductive conflict or indifference.
Patience with my friends, family, and athletes as each one of them navigate their own obstacles and struggles.
Patience for my own lower fitness and current disruptions of training.
(Continued) patience for our puppy (this is probably the easiest one— he is pretty good and damn cute).
Patience with myself overall as I navigate being human in all of this.
You surely have your own list, and I am only sharing mine in an effort to be transparent (one of the main points of this blog- we are all human and have human struggles. Big or small- let’s talk about them!)
Yes, I am aware that it can “always be worse,” and I know that it also has been and can be better as well. Truthfully, I have come to the realization that living with ease and presence requires a constant awareness of patience, no matter what we are facing. And, especially in a culture that glorifies instant gratification. Being patient is not easy.
My honest human preference would be for Deaken to have received a correct diagnosis immediately and healed sooner, skipping the worry and unnecessary medication and doctor visits. I would love for Quinton to be done serving his punishment so the pain of sitting on the sidelines for each game of his senior season can be a memory versus a current reality. I would feel more settled if Jamie and I were through the process of counseling and on the other side, armed with our tools to love and understand each other better.
It would also make my job easier if my athletes were robots rather than humans and I could program them with exactly what they needed to do for success, and they automatically could complete it all. Personally, it would be nice to train without all of the physical, mental, or emotional disruption.
But… I also know that how we navigate the harder times of life directly connects to building character. Learning lessons. Gathering tools. Leaning more on your higher power, and less on your own understanding. Life will always present challenges, and sometimes painful. It also changes constantly, and most of our hardships are fleeting. Showing up to these moments and letting things unfold with ease, rather than strong-arming change, requires patience.
I often question if I have enough patience to be able to be fully present with swirling emotions AND at the same time, thoughtfully respond to the needs of myself and others. The lure to buffer is strong. The desire to “lose my patience” is always there… a cliff I am often teetering on. And the strongest pull is to lose patience with the process, and obsess over “fixing” it all— to problem solve, rushing through the pain to arrive at a place where there is no more suffering…
hmmm…. Do you know how to find that place? I haven’t made it there yet. 😉
Even though it is hard, I believe in the power of patience.
When I consider what this looks and feels like, I think about two of the most patient people I know in my life— my mother-in-law, Candice, and my sister-in-law, Trish. Although they are very different women, they share some patience-defining characteristics, which I find to be unique in our rushed world. They both move with such intentionality and ease. They are good listeners. They address life with curiosity in the present moment, rather than thinking about everything else, all at once.
Some other attributes that often describe someone who has cultivated inner patience:
Tolerant, but still able to hold themselves and others accountable.
Able to react quickly when needed.
Quite a list, huh? It seems like a pretty solid idea to work on having more patience!
With more patience you will most likely have the deeper relationships and more meaningful connections and interactions. You will have the skillset to make more choices that honor your big picture desires, instead of impulsively and constantly chasing the need to be more optimized in life, falling prey to hustle culture.
Having patience also greatly impacts your training and racing.
A few ways:
- You will focus on the process. This leads to discipline and consistency in training—which yields results and helps sport add value to your life.
- You will stick with a training plan or a coach long enough to see if the process is working.
- You will push harder knowing that you will forgive yourself, learn, and keep showing up if you blow up in a workout or a race.
- You will be more aware, and therefore more able to connect to your mind and body. You can challenge yourself more in moments, and also honor needed rest and recovery.
- You will more thoughtfully spend your energy (no more heart rate spikes when someone is in your way during an open water swim race!)
- When patience has been practiced in the process you will be smarter in your reactions during racing. You will have more confidence in your overall approach.
Like all things, cultivating more patience doesn’t happen by “flipping a switch” (or reading this blog). It takes practice. And patience with the practicing… (which is one of the multitude of reasons that it is hard!)
A few quick tips to start practicing today:
- Take five minutes three times per day and think about your thoughts. Curiously inspect them. How are they patient? How are they not? FYI- obsessing over outcomes is not being patient. When you cannot have a result or an answer in the moment, try to focus on the present (even if it is hard!)
- Create a habit of grounding your body and mind through breathing. Do this several times a day to be able to check in with your level of patience. Use this tool when you feel like you are becoming impatient.
- Identify circumstances that trigger you to lose your patience. Establish boundaries with these. Do all you can to remain thoughtful and intentional in these situations. (Use your breathing techniques, avoid alcohol or other things that alter your thinking, etc)
- Check out Brad Stulberg’s ideas on creating a process mindset and stopping one rep short. These are very practical ways to practice having patience.
Hope you were patient with this long-winded message today. 😉 I am very excited about this practice and have already found it monumentally helpful in navigating life with more ease (not easy) I am sure I will have more on this topic, as I have a long way to go to cultivate more patience myself.
Let’s keep patiently traveling this road together.