In the more than nine years since I started this blog, I’ve written about impatience approximately a million times. Just kidding, but it does come up a lot. In fact, I wrote about impatience a month ago. What’s interesting is I’m noticing how I’m impatient not only about external factors like my career, but also with my internal states. When I’m sad, I want to be over the sadness as quickly as possible. When I’m afraid, I want to skip to serene as soon as I can.
This week my therapist told me, “You can feel sad as long as you need to feel sad. Take as much time as you need.” In that moment I realized even though I’ve recently starting allowing myself to feel all my feelings, I’ve still added in a time element. I want to move through them as quickly as possible, and that often means I don’t feel them fully because it’s a rush job. If you’re painting a house and slap on some paint as quick as can be, it’s bound to happen that you miss a few spots. A thorough job takes time and that’s precisely what I haven’t been giving myself. Instead, I’ve been giving myself a whole lot of judgment.
I watched a television sitcom the other day that had a funeral scene, and I started crying because it reminded me of my co-worker. My first response was, “Really? It’s been four months. You’re still sad? You didn’t even know him all that well.” And my next response was, “OK, go ahead and cry,” but it held a tinge of someone standing next to me, tapping her foot, waiting for me to finish. So much of my life is like that right now, tapping my foot, waiting for the next thing on a small scale as well as a large one. I’m counting down the hours until I have to take my next pill, or have to leave to catch the bus, or when my health will improve, or when my dreams will come true.
I could easily veer into the beauty of staying present, of being where my feet are, but while related, instead I’m valuing spaciousness and ease. I’m starting to give myself permission to take all the time I need. To not rush my internal process. To stop giving myself self-imposed deadlines of when I should feel better or my life should look different than it does. Deadlines are helpful for some things, but in others they’re detrimental.
My spiritual teacher says, “Suppose, immediately after planting some saplings and seeds, someone digs them up to find out if they have taken root or sprouted. That would not be considered wise.” I always thought he meant literal saplings and seeds, and he likely did, but now I’m understanding we have internal saplings and seeds too. And for those as well, I have to wait for them to take root and sprout.
I dream of a world where we give ourselves the time and space we need. A world where we no longer rush our internal processes or judge ourselves harshly about where we think we’re supposed to be or how we’re supposed to feel. A world where we recognize the value of internal spaciousness.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.