What if there IS magic in patience?

Impatience is not a virtue. Nor is it helpful.

In my experience personally and with witnessing its impact on clients, I can see how truly destructive, disempowering and controlling impatience can be.

I have just come off a call with a client whose impatient thinking patterns cause her to give up on the goals and changes that she wants in her life.

“Well I’ve done X for Y time and can’t see any results so what’s the point” The X in this instance were small steps leading to a big change. The Y time, well, that was less than two weeks!

“How long have you been doing the behaviour that you want to change.” I asked.

“I don’t remember not doing it.” She replied chuckling. (This lady was over 50)

“So you are expecting something that you have been doing more than 4 decades to change in less than two weeks.”

“Well, yeah.”

I’d like to say that this was a one off incident. A rare conversation. But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this from coaching clients. And I’ve been hearing it for more than the 14 years I have been coaching. My internal thinking has convinced on numerous occasions that ‘things should either change overnight or that they won’t change, so may as well stick with what I know.’ Which is the habit that I don’t have to think about. So I get it.

It’s an understandable option, because it’s so automatic it ‘saves energy’ and is ‘less effort’ than consciously doing something different.

But automatic thinking like this can be destructive.

It’s that kind of thinking that kept me smoking, drinking, being in unhealthy relationships, overreacting and being miserable about how my life was. That kind of thinking stopped me from taking responsibility for myself and behaving with self respect.

Yes initially it does take more energy and you do need to put more effort in. Over time though, it becomes your go to and life is respectful and empowering.

Coaching provides me with the gift of hearing the many thoughts that humans have. And hearing how common they are. How destructively normal that ‘give up’ behaviour is. I can see how it plays out for clients and the impact it has on their lives. And I get to reflect on my own too.

With clients permission I occasionally share my thinking processes and past experiences to help them see the normality and irrationality of our human behaviours. They often make connections. Many comment on how helpful it is to know that they are not alone.

One of my teenage clients recently reflected, ‘OMG I’m like the 16 year old version of you.’ She had no idea actually how deep & true that statement was. And how gratifying it is, for me, to see the progress and changes she has made in the past year. Giving her the possibility of living a more confident life.

I wonder what I would be like now if my teenage self had had those revelations?

The one thing I think that would be different, is that she would be far more patient with herself. Throughout her late teens and into her 20’s. And through this practise she’d be even kinder to herself. Which would also impact her self respect in a helpful way. And I’m guessing all of these would have supported her to make choices that would have been helpful rather than harmful, constructive rather than destructive. Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets about my past, I wouldn’t be where I am without it!

The true extent of what these new behaviours could create is anyone’s guess. But having witnessed changes very similar to these with clients and with myself, I guess that life would become much easier to deal with, they would feel more resilient, confident and often happier.

All through starting the practise of patience. Self patience.

I was once told a story about someone who moved into a new house and had a garden for the first time. It was a blank canvas and they were excited about what they could grow. For a month they prepared the ground and planted bulbs, seeds and saplings.

Each morning they got up. Looked out of the window eager to see their luscious new garden. Only to be met with a few saplings and soil. After a week, they got angry. Stood in the garden yelling at the plants to ‘grow faster’. That they ‘should be bigger by now’ ‘be in flower’ ‘be bearing fruit’

Each day they got angrier and less enchanted with their new plot of possibility.

Sounds dumb, right?

But, where in your life do you get angry/frustrated/fed up because things are not how you want them to be or haven’t changed at the speed you want them to?
I wonder what might grow and what magic you will find in patience when you start looking?