I really don’t like to think about patience. To be honest, it kind of annoys me. The number of times I’ve been told to just be patient is way too high to count. Part of it is probably my insanity, but most of it is just that I am a person. As a concept, “exercising patience” has always confused me. Maybe I don’t take it as a concept – there are a lot of things that I honestly don’t take as concepts – but I have no idea how to put it into practice. Even so, I continue to try to be patient in my daily life. In the short term, it’s frustrating and can sometimes trigger my anxiety. But in the long run it has helped me find peace where I can find it and come up with a more sustainable plan for spiritual wellbeing.
That being said, it’s probably no surprise that the term patience is a virtue that doesn’t always suit me well. It’s not that I don’t believe in it, but I haven’t done a great job creating a patient attitude and that attitude has continued despite my attempts to change it over time. This is pretty common with me, and mostly because of my many failed attempts to get rid of mental illness.
When I lived to get rid of my mental illness, there was only one way to be patient. I told myself that I had to be patient because one day the depression would go away. As I have said many times before, this misguided approach not only got me wrong, it also created unrealistic goals for dealing with my anxiety and depression.
Patience means something else to me. The way I dealt with patience used to be a last resort than something to preach about when I didn’t know how else to treat my depression. Be patient, I would tell myself, it will all be over soon. My patience has been about being patient with what happened to me for so long. When it came to patience, I rarely looked inward. Now that I have it, things look different than they used to be.
For what it’s worth, that doesn’t mean things are better or worse – but my approach is healthier than it used to be. Patience is still a virtue and I don’t like how much I have to practice. But I also know that working on building this healthier habit will improve my sanity. Whether I admit it or not, I know it’s true. And practicing patience with a healthier goal can make a world of difference.
Now when I practice patience, I try to focus on myself. I look inward. I am not patient with getting rid of mental health problems – I am patient with enough energy to start another round of anxiety and depression. It takes time, and if the goal is to find enough energy and strength to fight mental illness, it’s interesting how much more value I see in being patient. I still don’t like it – but then again, there are a lot of things that people don’t like to make their lives better. Might see where it’s going too, right?