“Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Patience, in any walk of life, is a supreme virtue. Patience gives you the ability and the power to control your mind and emotions. By doing so you will experience less anger, frustration and disappointment.
To get more from life, it is necessary to develop virtues that enable you to build relationships and have harmonious experiences. Patience has a major part to play in liberating the mind and avoiding unnecessary suffering.
It is regarded in all cultures that there are three types of patience. Although the three types are presented in different ways they are essentially:
- Patience with people
- Patience with yourself
- Patience with life
Let’s take a closer look.
Patience with People
It’s very difficult to remain patient with people. In the past, my lack of patience with people caused me to come unstuck many times.
I’ve put all that behind now and accept people for who they are. Trying to change people is pointless and wishing people were not idiots is an anger issue that only causes damage to yourself. You can’t change people and nor should you try.
We are all unique individuals, shaped by our environment and experiences in life. It’s inevitable that we will always think and do things differently.
Think about how you feel when you are being impatient with someone. You will probably be irritated and that might make you feel frustrated, disappointed, cruel or wanting to retaliate.
None of these is a good state of mind to be in which means you are also giving your body more work to do to clean up the neurochemical mess your brain is creating.
When you have patience, on the other hand, you become indifferent to what is happening. You don’t get emotionally involved – and that saves a whole lot of trouble.
“We talked a little about what patience is. It is the mind that is undisturbed in facing harm or suffering. It is an antidote to anger, anger being an attitude or a mental factor that exaggerates the negative qualities of an object or projects negative qualities that aren’t there” – Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron
Training yourself to be more patient with others requires you to nurture a steady and open heart. If you find someone rude or ignorant, remember their weakness is their problem, not yours.
When you allow the weaknesses of others to disturb your own mental state, you are only causing suffering to yourself. Have the courage to be tolerant and you will invite more harmony into your life.
Patience to Overcome Weaknesses
The process of self-development is a long, hard slog. Changes will not happen overnight. No matter how faithfully you perform self-help rituals, it can sometimes feel that you are not making any progress.
The reason for this is because some emotional wounds are deeply ingrained in the subconscious. You have to keep peeling back the layers of your inner world before the True Self is revealed.
You have lived with subconscious programs all your life. How do you know any better if you have not had experiences that contradict what you think you know? Addictions are the hardest character flaw you will have to overcome during a self-development challenge.
Let’s say you are aware of a recurring problem in your life and you work on your subconscious to change the program. This is good, but the chances are you have only changed one schema – a small portion of the program.
How we think and act is a culmination of experiences we have in life. Each experience reinforces a previous experience and builds on the program. Yes, it can be frustrating and disrupting, but it is a fact of life you have to accept.
Addictions are a prime example. Addictions are the hardest thing to overcome because the subconscious mind is conditioned to believe that you need that one thing to get you through the day.
This is the work of the lower conscious id that possessed the ego. The unconscious gives you want you think you need to survive. But the subconscious mind is merely trying to protect your emotional survival because that’s what you have always done. The ego doesn’t know any better. The cravings you feel is because your subconscious is programmed to perceive that is what you need.
Having the courage and the strength of mind to be patient with yourself despite the nagging feeling of craving will enable you to change the subconscious program. The craving will pass.
You will feel restlessness but that is actually a good sign – it’s a sign of change. Your energy is transforming and will eventually become the person you are striving to be.
Patience with the Rollercoaster of Life
Every day we transform energy by way of thought, actions and emotions. It is through the triumvirate that we create the experiences we have in life. This is why mindfulness is so important to practice.
Subsequently, you will be challenged with events that test your patience. As much as you would like life to be plain sailing all the time, the law of duality determines that you have to take the rough with the smooth.
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” – Carl Jung
Every moment you experience is an opportunity to learn something about yourself. The important thing to remember is that experiences are meant to test us. How you react to bad experiences determines how you feel.
Buddha Gautama said that suffering is inevitable. Developing patience and accepting that bad things do happen – but that they will also pass – gives you the tools to handle situations without suffering.