“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~Marcel Proust
It’s taken me a while, but I have finally learned to appreciate aspects of my own impatience.
For a long time I did not like this quality about myself. I am still working on becoming more patient, because impatience and I go way back.
I was impatient to get out of high school, so I fast tracked that whole experience.
I was impatient to get working, so I started working when I was fourteen.
I was impatient to finish university, so I rushed through it, while working up to thirty-five hours a week, not stopping to enjoy myself or have fun.
My daughter was impatient to be born, so she came early, and so did my son.
I wanted to move up the corporate ladder fast, so I sprinted and pushed and worked all kinds of crazy hours that come with being in the world of technology consulting for a global fortune 500 organization.
And then I got sick.
My body got tired of me pushing, and shoving, and not pausing even for a second to pay attention to its cries for help. Illness forced me to stop everything and pare my life down to the basics.
I got diagnosed with some fancy labels like chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, and eventually an even fancier label, PTSD.
Even getting dressed and making my kids meals felt like climbing Mount Everest.
I let shame take over for a little while, and I hid from the world, the career I had worked so hard to build, my family, and even my kids; hiding in bed while they were at school and haphazardly pulling myself together before they came home.
After a few months, my own innate personality started to come through and my impatience reared its head out of the fatigue, depression, and piles of laundry.
I wanted my life back. I was not going to write off my future in my early thirties, and be resigned to my couch and bed, while my children were waiting for their tired mother to wake up and play.
I got myself into therapy. I wanted no part of taking drugs. It was a personal choice that to this day, I don’t regret. It’s not for everyone. It felt right for me.
I worked with therapists, healers, and naturopathic/homeopathic doctors; I tried Chinese medicine, acupuncture, all kinds of massage and bodywork and energy treatments, and spent thousands of dollars on nutritional supplements and testing.
I worked with shamans and took trips to silent retreats, meditated, wrote, drew and doodled in my journal, danced to 5Rhythms, moved with hula hoops and even travelled to the Amazon looking for answers.
The thing is, during much this time, I felt a huge amount of shame for my impatience. My healer/teacher/therapist and every other practitioner would smile with understanding for my impatience to get healthy and feel better.
They would urge me to be patient and encourage me to honor the timing of my own body.
They were right. I knew this, too. But the rational part of me wasn’t always the one in charge.
I often felt like time was running out. I had a life to get back to, and it was passing me by every day that I lacked the energy and the mental clarity to fully live it. The body aches and pains and other physical discomforts didn’t make it any easier either.
Eventually, the wiser part of me got it.
Our body does have its own wisdom. It does speak, and we need to pause to listen in order to learn the language that each of our own bodies uses to speak to us. And this is not something that would have typically been taught to us while we were in school.
While it’s wise to work on our impatience, we can simultaneously appreciate its gifts.
The biggest gift I received by working with my impatience was perseverance. I didn’t give up. I continued to search for answers to my health conditions. I was obsessed with wanting to know the answers to my many questions. Why did I get sick? What was the root cause? Why did my body start to shut down on me?
Impatience gave me the drive to keep going, even when it felt like I wasn’t making much progress.
And impatience gave me hope. Each time I felt like I was taking one step forward, to be brought back ten, I would explore new healing options and get excited about the possibility of it working.
I used to beat myself up for being impatient with myself, for how long it was all taking, and for finding it difficult to sit and meditate. I wished so many times that I could be more Zen-like and graceful in the way I met my health challenges.
Many times sitting across therapists and healers and other wise people I had hired to be on my healing team, I would feel like that squirmy little kid in class. You know, the one who sat constantly moving in their seat, waving their hands about the air, hardly able to contain themselves because they had so much to say.
I was that kid in an adult’s body. I wanted my healing team to know everything I was doing. I wanted them to know everything that I knew, had tried, and discovered so that that there would be no wasting time. All they had to do was tell me what I needed to do next, and I would get on it.
Seven years later, I’m now better. I don’t identify myself through those same labels I was once diagnosed with. I have learned to tune in and listen to my body, and navigate my inner world and some dark alleys that I never knew existed.
Through this process, I have transformed my wounds into wisdom, discovered my life’s purpose, and continue to use the insights to course correct, and live my life making conscious choices as best I can.
I am grateful for the role that impatience played in my journey from illness to wellness. I am enjoying my second chance at life with my children, and doing my best to be a present mother. I am teaching my children these same tools of awareness and self-regulation by the way that I meet life, them, and myself.
Though I could have done without the restlessness, I truly believe that without the persistence that resulted from my impatience, I might still be lying on a couch in my living room, napping.
So, here’s my invitation to you: If you are like me and have been beating yourself up over your impatience, take some time to review how your impatience has helped you in your life.
How has your impatience been a friend or a blessing?
How has it allowed you not to give up when you desperately wanted to?
How did it help you to not take ambiguity or “no” for an answer, and propel you to find your own truth?
You might be surprised and grateful at what you discover!
Man running via Shutterstock