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

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“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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  • Debi

    Love the part about “forced” positivity. Oh so very true and a much-needed reminder.

  • Name

    Loved, loved, loved it. Anything we can do to “trick” ourselves back into the reality in the present moment as that is the only place we can create change:). Also loved how your bio mentions self-work takes equal parts of compassion and sauciness. Well said. Thanks for sharing.

  • venusbu03

    The question you posed about waving a magic wand to get whatever it is we desire right now, and whether we would be 100% satisfied with it, blew me away. Because before I even got to the next sentence, my mind said “no” and that shocked the heck out of me! That’s very interesting and I’ll have to explore that a bit 🙂 Thanks for the insight!

  • I am *always* surprised how much I can think I want something…and still find some resistance hiding in there. Glad it helped you!

  • Thanks for reading!

  • I find positivity is so powerful (and so many people are so excited by it) that reminding myself not to go overboard with is is a constant practice. 🙂

  • Nik Jones

    All of the TinyBuddah blog posts seem to suddenly relate to me and my current situation. They’re BRILLIANT. I found myself lacking self-love, -esteem and everything I needed after a 4 year relationship ended (which I ended because it wasn’t right), so I’m journeying towards finding my true self again. I was desparate for the end to come so I could just get back into a relationship, then I realised I needed to calm down, sit back, re-learn all the self-things again and wait until I’m ready. Already (and a big thanks to your website) I’m feeling a lot, lot calmer and really excited about what the future holds. Thanks TinyBuddah!

  • RJ Vela

    @rhiannonlaurie:disqus sounds like what total badasses do

  • Kara Gott Warner

    Changes that I wish would happen already? Where do I start? Funny I should stumble upon your insightful post because just today I was listening to a podcast that spoke of this very topic. The question was- What if it took you a decade to reach a goal? You know– that thing that makes you want to jump out of bed each morning. Would you have the patience to persevere? My immediate thought was a resounding YES, because what other option is there? To shrivel up in a little ball and die? Feeling contentment in acceptance with what is, not matter what is true inner-wealth. When I have glimpses of this feeling, it’s better than all the riches in the world. Arriving at true patient acceptance is REAL wisdom is. I have a long way to go, but I’m determined to stay on my path for as long as it takes!

  • Guest

    “It is frequently not what the facts are, but what people think the facts are, which is truly important. There is benefit in learning what someone else’s concept of the reality of the situation is.”

    Once, someone said to me something like this and… changed my life perspective of life and improved my relationship with some people very important to me. I’m very gratefull for that. It’s was not so long time along though. I still have many “bad habits” to fight. But…things take time and experience as usual.

    Anyway, because somethimes we forget some lessons previously learned, this article is what I really needed to “listen” today.

  • Jen Bemke

    This is what I needed to hear today! For a while now I’ve been trying to make things change in my life. I have been/am self-conscious, feel like I’m not “good enough” for people, and have been severely envious of my friend’s relationships which in turn makes me depressed and feel worthless.

    I want this change to happen right now so that I can be “happy.” Why do I have to wait and sit on the sidelines while watching everyone else get what they want? It’s frustrating and makes me want to just give up sometimes.