Patience is a mindset that will serve you well through any illness or, during the recovery from a significant health setback.
Let’s face it, no one likes to sit on the sidelines and feel alone and forgotten. And yet, when you’re in the throes of recovery it can seem like the world continues to revolve without you. Getting back in the game feels somewhat like trying to jump onto a moving merry-go-round, and to do that, your sense of timing and ability must be in sync to enjoy a safe ride.
If there’s one thing I know for certain about living with a chronic and progressive illness, it’s that from time to time a lack of physical ability will bench me and keep me out of the ‘game of life’ as I’ve come to know it. And for that reason, my patience is tested regularly.
At first, there’s a feeling of relief simply because a level of discomfort has eased, as treatments and rest help.
Once that passes, however, I feel as though a dreaded red card has been unfairly assigned to me. Avid soccer fans know that when a player does not heed the referee’s yellow card warnings it can lead to the red card and removal from the field of play.
When the dust settles on the bench of relegated stillness, it’s easy to fall into a deep river of loneliness. You begin to drown in an overwhelming sense of lack and it is frightening.
Of course, loneliness is not exclusive to the experience of illness. Rather, it is a human emotion readily available to anyone, at any time, for any perceived reason, but especially at times of crisis.
Instead of floating on an imaginary air mattress called patience, we wail and thrash around in a river of frustration without realizing we are only making matters worse. A misconstrued sense of entitlement believes our previous state of health was meant to be permanent, this has a hook-line-and-sinker effect.
Anger is the anchor that will prevent you from moving toward renewed health.
Renewed is the keyword to consider – it is a mistake to think a significant health challenge will result in you returning to being your same ‘old self’.
However, every experience offers an opportunity for personal transformation and self-awareness, and patience is the price of entry.
But what is patience and how can we get more?
Some claim patience is an inherent quality while others say is it a learnable skill, and the old adage, ‘patience is a virtue’ indicates it is a moral behaviour worth pursuing.
Patience, to me, is like a cramped and contracted muscle, although initially painful, stretching it actually helps it to loosen and relax, and the more you stretch it – the further it expands.
As a frequent guest of hospitals from an early age, I quickly learned stretching my patience brought me greater rewards than my muscles ever would. I also understood that happy patients have patience.
Patience is the noun form of the adjective ‘patient’. One without the other is like pancakes without syrup (make that, organic maple syrup).
When you consider that most things are time-sensitive it’s no wonder that no one wants to wait.
Sayings like, ‘buy now’, ‘don’t miss this opportunity’, ‘strike while the iron is hot’ – are designed to create a sense of urgency and poke at our feelings of impatience.
Disasters, disappointments, and discomfort is all a part of the terms and conditions of being human. Your signature of agreement can be found in your fingerprint, your breath, and your bathroom mirror.
Claiming, “I didn’t sign up for this” only serves to sink the anchor of anger deeper.
The experience of pain can bring darkness and despair, but I assure you this is the time to look toward lightness with patience.
It will shift, everything in life does, and, eventually, when the time is right you’ll find a renewed sense of balance.
You might like to read about being calm HERE