For the past dozen years or so I’ve been struggling with my chief feature of impatience. I’ve learned to recognize it, which helps me head it off before it gets too destructive; but, the real goal (to me) was to turn it off before it even started. However, it seemed like the closer I came to figuring out how to turn it off, the farther away I got, too. It became like a dance — 1 step forward, and 2 steps back.
Then the other night I had a dream, I was wandering through a house. All the rooms were dark and empty, but somewhere within I could hear music and laughter like a small party. So, I continued to wander through the dark rooms until I finally found that one room with the lightes on. Although disheveled and dirty from having wandered lost for so long, everyone in the room accepted me as if we were the best of friends. I was given a cooling drink, offered food and a comfortable chair, and generally made to feel at home.
When I awoke, I realized that my approach to overcoming my impatience was all wrong. Instead of “conquering” it, I needed to accept it, just as I needed to accept myself. I needed to accept myself for who I was—warts and all—instead of trying to change myself to fit an ideal that was unrealistic. Once I could accept myself, I’d be able to accept everyone else. You see, my real issue isn’t impatience—or even the negative pole of impatience, intolerance—my real issue is acceptance. As long as I keep seeing my chief feature as a flaw instead of as just another feature of who I am, I can never truly accept myself. And if I can’t accept myself, how can I possibly understand or accept anyone else?
So, instead of struggling with my chief feature, I’m learning to embrace it, along with myself, and everyone around me, as full and complete beings with likes, dislikes, foibles, and chief features. And that’s all okay, because all of that is what makes each of us a unique and intriguing individual. It’s what makes our perspectives so different, and our experiences truly unique.
So, instead of struggling with yourself, embrace yourself. Instead of hating yourself for being too stubborn, too arrogant, too thin, too fat, or too anything, learn to make the most of who and what you are—because who and what you are is something wonderous, amazing, and unique!
That doesn’t mean I go out of my way or allow myself to hurt others, or deliberately let my chief feature run amok, because once I recognize that everyone is a unique individual I find that my impatience is curbed and I no longer become so intolerant.
Does that mean I never suffer road rage or the anger of waiting in line thinking, “I could be doing something else right now”. No, those moments still flare within me, and those old angers still raise their ugly heads. But they are fewer and less inflammatory, and by accepting them for what they are, they quickly die and fade back into the ether from where they came.
It sounds a bit like the spiritual training that Mr. Spock (of StarTrek) went through to suppress his emotions, and I guess, in a way it might be. But rather than suppress anything, I’m simply acknowledging the emotional flare up, then allowing it to fade into the well of acceptance that I’ve created for it, instead of flinging it outward and allowing it to grow into something uncontrollable. There is no reason why this has to become an uncontrollable monster, not if I take and accept it for what it is. Once accepted, it loses its power and the monster fades away.
So, next time you face your own monster of a chief feature, try defanging it by not fighting with it. Instead, accept it and watch it turn from a roaring beast into a purring kitten.