Patience is not just about your behavior while you wait. It is taking the time necessary to work through a difficult situation. Life right now is difficult. I don’t know when my life will return to normal. My husband is in the vulnerable category, so we have quarantined almost completely. Even though states are opening, they might not be open for us. When will it be safe to visit my mother in a nursing home or hug my granddaughter? Not knowing what the new normal will be or how long until we get there, is difficult. The unknowns add stress and none of us need stress right now.
So how do we cope? Be Patient. That statement brings to mind a child sitting with hands folded in their lap as they sit on a chair and swing their legs. A very passive and immobile state. The character quality of Patience is anything but passive and immobile.
So, what does Patience look like during this crisis? One of our I will statements is “I will change the things I can and accept the things I can’t.” To accept difficult circumstances, we need to find ways to reduce and manage our stress. Self-care is different for every person and may change over time for an individual. I baked a chocolate cake in the name of self-care then felt guilty about the indulgence. I came to realize that one chocolate cake is self-care. The act of baking and creating was calming. A chocolate cake every week is self-sabotage, so I accepted my one chocolate cake. I’ve added more prayer and exercise into my day. I make it a requirement to get outside everyday and I am clearing space for a Zen garden. (My resulting case of poison ivy is a whole other study in Patience…) What does self-care look like for you?
I thought about the things I can change, and this essay is one of them. I am writing essays more often since once a month in this dynamic time is not enough. Once a week is probably a better schedule but that is not a realistic change for us. We are also creating training for families to use during this time as well as some other new resources. The trainings are being presented via videos in a Facebook group (Character Centered Families) rather than our normal in person classes. It is a big change for us but one that will help us in the long run. What changes have you made during this time that make sense to be a part of your new normal?
Another one of our I wills for Patience is “I will make the most of my wait time.” To do that, I dusted off my sewing machine and made some face masks. Let’s just say sewing is not one of my strengths so the masks were okay. While I have the time, I will continue to sew masks and at some point, they will be good enough to donate. I have also given myself permission to not feel pressured into being productive every minute. Has this time at home provided you with any opportunities?
As I reread this essay, I realized it only addressed those of us stuck at home. What if you are a healthcare worker or other essential business worker? Our quarantine seems downright luxurious compared to what you face daily. How can you use Patience? Same way we do. Change what you can. Accept what you can’t. Easy to read but harder for you to do. One change might be asking for help. Asking a neighbor to cut your grass if your long hours are getting the way. Calling a hotline for a mental health respite when you feel the need. Speak up about your needs both at work and home. As you reflect on the increased pressure and fear, are you finding strength you didn’t know you had?
What if you are a parent who is working from home and teaching children at the same time? Buckets of Patience! Think W.I.N., an acronym for What’s Important Now. According to MindfulAmbition.Net this does two things for you. “1. Embrace the reality of your situation without resistance. 2. Clarify how you want to move forward, given that.” Take some time to patiently ground yourself into the present moment and choose your next move based on what’s important right now. What can you change? What can you accept? It might mean boxed Mac N Cheese for dinner, <i>again</i> and the sheets stay on the beds for another week in favor of getting one more report done. Take a step back from your work/their work to appreciate the new technology have you learned or insight into children’s learning have you gained. What will you take with you into your new normal?
During this crisis, take that next deep breath and map out your Patience plan for what you need right now.
(Visit https://mindfulambition.net/whats-important-now/ for more information on the W.I.N. method.)