By Cyndi Myers
When I was a child I would frequently watch my father as he toiled away on one project or another around the house. In hindsight (and now, from a parenting perspective), I probably should’ve been wearing noise-canceling headphones, only they hadn’t been invented yet. You see, more often than not my dad’s tinkering came with many sudden outbursts of expletives no child should hear; but back then it was far more acceptable than it is now. Be that as it may, I always knew to steer clear of whichever room he’d be working in. And it certainly wasn’t because my father was a stern or angry man. He was actually quite the opposite…very jovial, loving and sweet…unless he was working on a house project. And it also wasn’t because he wasn’t handy; he was a machine repairman at a local General Motors plant, “tinkering” away on heavy machinery every day. So, what was the driving force behind those sudden, foul outbursts? PATIENCE, or rather, lack thereof.
I’d like to say I’m the complete opposite of my father in the patience department. Unfortunately, however, I cannot. Whether it’s a genetic predisposition or a learned behavior, I’m equally impatient when things don’t go smoothly or as planned. I can’t say if my father was aware of this personality trait of his, but I can say with 100% certainty that I am. And I really try to approach any situation I know will require patience with little to no expectations of the process and/or outcome, as well as the complete awareness of the potential for a little outburst of my own. I’m a work-in-progress, I suppose.
I’m not proud of my impatience, and it certainly never serves me well in ANY situation. But as my body still recovers from heavy duty chemotherapy, I’m digging deep, working on cultivating patience and staying positive in the process. What I’m learning is that finding ways to be patient only adds positivity to my life, and staying positive clears the path to healing.
Why Is Patience So Important To Healing?
We all know the old adage: “patience is a virtue”, right? But what does that really mean and why is it important to illness recovery? Well, according to Psychology Today, “patience is often thought of as a virtue, but it can also be understood as a complex of virtues including self-control, humility, tolerance, generosity, and mercy, and is itself an important aspect of other virtues such as hope, faith, and love.”
In other words, patience is akin to all the positive feels, and can help us maintain a more positive outlook on life and make us less reactive. When we react suddenly with frustration and anger behind that reaction, stress and negativity set in and tend to seep into other aspects of your life. And, as many studies have shown, what happens in the brain directly influences what happens in the body. When facing a stressful situation like a health crisis, actively cultivating positive emotions can boost your immune system, counter depression and help you heal. There is an indisputable connection between having a positive outlook and positive health outcomes.
The Patience Connection
In today’s “instant gratification” world, finding patience and positivity in our daily lives is often, and sadly, very tricky. For instance, how patient are you when waiting in a long line at the grocery store check out? Or, how about waiting for your food to arrive at your table at a restaurant? I know I’ve had many moments of frustration in those situations! But, in retrospect, WHY? What makes MY time more valuable than the person’s in front of me, or the chef’s in the kitchen where she or he is in the throes of making 50 other patrons’ meals?? Weaving in patience throughout your life - even in those small moments - can be life-altering, especially in the larger moments, like when faced with an illness like cancer.
For many people, including myself, healing is like riding on a roller coaster. I was inspired to write this blog simply because I’m working on cultivating patience in my own life, particularly in dealing with my own healing journey. It’s been nearly 6 years since my last chemotherapy treatment, yet I still struggle with a multitude of health issues. Most days I’m optimistic and patient with the long, arduous process of healing after 2.5 years of so much “poison” in my body; others, not so much. And it’s on those “not so much” days that I end up finding the strength and patience to persevere, to not give up hope (after some serious crying and releasing of all the negativity, of course!).
What I’m learning is that patience is much easier to exercise if one truly understands - and trusts - that it can and DOES deliver much better outcomes. But it is something that requires an investment of our time and energy, and something we must constantly participate in if we want to truly heal and grow in life.
So when you're facing an uncertain future, a negative event or something excruciatingly frustrating, take a minute and try this exercise:
Close your eyes.
Breathe deep into your belly, then slowly let that breath - and, more importantly, that FRUSTRATION - go.
Repeat until you feel less stress and more at ease.
This is a super simple way to not only create clarity, but to whittle away at negative emotions, creating space for open, flowing energy and positivity.
Opening up to trusting the process, whether it’s trusting your doctors or your body’s ability to heal, is the key to true healing. Trust = patience = wellness.
Sending much light and love to you…