4 Ways to Embrace Slow Change When You’re Feeling Impatient


“Change is not a process for the impatient.” ~Barbara Reinhold

I love it when change happens quickly. Sometimes things just click, and everything shifts all at once.

When I met the man who’d become my husband, we were married only thirteen months later, and in those thirteen months we both transformed to our very cores.

The problem is that those thirteen months aren’t the entire story. They cut off the three years of intense personal work I did before I met him, all the while wishing to be in a healthy relationship.

Without those three years of work (and the years of work he did before meeting me), we couldn’t have moved that fast from a healthy place. We would have been living a fantasy.

I’ve done that before in relationships—pretended that I was changing faster than I was. Eventually the bubble would burst, and we’d need to see where we really were.

Real change usually takes a long time.

So how do we deal with this? How can we embrace three (or one, or five, or thirteen) years of working on a change without caving in to our impatience?

1. Find ways to get the qualities you’re wanting right now.

Some of the qualities I wanted out of my changed relationship pattern were love, companionship, and adventure.

There are plenty of ways to connect to those qualities without actually being in a relationship. I went on adventures with my roommates, talked things over companionably with my best friend, and learned to accept love from myself and those around me.

Not only does this help you feel better in the moment, it also helps you begin the inner changes that lead to outer change.

(Sneaky benefit: sometimes we only think we want something, and that’s why it hasn’t happened yet for us. When we connect to the qualities behind the change we’d like to make, we get what we’re really wanting, whether it goes according to plan or not.)

2. Trick yourself back to the present moment.

When my “internal committee” is throwing a small fit about how long something seems to be taking, I call its bluff.

So you think it’ll take me ten years to get to the place where I can have the kind of relationship I’m wanting?

Well in five years, would I rather be five years closer to that desire or not? In eleven years? In two months?

Usually even my most stuck-in-the-mud resistance answers “yes” to all those questions. So then I bring us back to the present.

Since I know I want to move forward on this no matter how long it takes, what’s one action I can do now to embrace the change I’m making, slow as it may be?

(Sneaky benefit: though you’re focusing on the future, this gets you back into cultivating the qualities you’d like in the present moment, which is the only place you really live anyway.)

3. Make friends with your resistance.

If you could wave a magic wand, right this moment, and have the change you’re wanting, would you feel 100% satisfied with it?

Hopefully at least part of you says “no,” because that means you have information on where to work.

If a small part of you thinks that a relationship sounds rather terrifying, then you can ask it what needs to change so you can feel safe.

Maybe you need to learn better boundaries. Maybe you need to choose better partners. Maybe you need to feel more comfortable receiving love from yourself first.

Repeat this often enough, and you’ll have connected with all the parts of you that need to change.

(Sneaky benefit: this helps you make a change from a place of wholeness and alignment, instead of running roughshod over parts of yourself to get what other parts of you want.)

4. Let it be hard.

Positivity is a wonderful thing, but forced positivity puts you in resistance to what’s really going on in you.

So take ten or fifteen minutes to let it be hard.

Write a rant in your notebook.

Ask a friend for a hug.

Listen to a sad song and cry a bit.

When you free up the energy trapped in the sadness (or anger, or fear—whatever you feel), you may find it easier to embrace change with grace.

(Sneaky benefit: this is also a backdoor to wholeness. While wallowing in negativity is usually counterproductive, giving yourself time to grieve helps you heal.)

How about you?

What changes are you working toward that you really wish would just happen already? What helps you deal with your impatience?

Photo by Hartwig HKD

About Rhiannon Laurie

Rhiannon Laurie writes, teaches and coaches people who are interested in getting to know themselves better at Mirrorhaven, an online Academy of Self Love. She believes self-work requires equal parts compassion and sauciness. Click here for the free guide: “Ten Things to Reflect On.”

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