We are all waiting. We are watching and wondering what will come around the next bend. Aren’t we? Our whole lives we are living in the now but looking forward to something that is coming. Sometimes the waiting is hard; sometimes it is exciting.
What do we do in the waiting?
I am not an expert on waiting. I’m actually quite terrible at it. But lately I feel I’ve been waiting for so much related to my personal and professional life, and it brings up a lot of anxiety. But I want to combat that. I want to wait well. So I’ve been listening, searching, and trying to find ways to wait that are not about what is to come, but rather to use the experience of waiting as a moving forward
Here are four practices or experiences I’ve tried lately:
Create “littler” waits.
Or maybe I should call this: create little satisfying bits of life that fill up the waiting. I was given a really good suggestions when I was speaking with a counselor about my waiting. I may be burdened or frustrated by waiting, and in some ways I have no control over how long the waiting will be, but I can create little things in between that I can choose. I can actively find joys, moments of fun, and satisfaction in the smaller things. Some may find this easy to do, but it was an “ah-ha” moment for me. So maybe each week I plan one night where I will go out to a new restaurant and try something I’ve never had before. It’s a way of exploring, learning, using my senses, and enjoying an experience in the midst of waiting. (I still haven’t started this yet, but I plan to now that I’ve written it down.)
Check my expectations.
We all have expectations of what will happen once our waiting is over and our goal comes to fruition. But sometimes we have to check our expectations. So I may say to myself: “When this waiting is over I will no longer have to worry about (fill in the blank).” But am I certain there will not be other worries? I may say to myself: “When the waiting is over it will get so much easier.” But is that true? Sometimes our expectations are false, which can negatively impact us when the wait is over. It seems best to make sure our expectations are realistic. Maybe I could make a list of the good things I will have when the wait is over, but also the challenges I might face. It may put it all into better perspective.
Invite people to wait with me.
This seems to be the biggest helper. Sharing something big and heavy with a few family members, friends, or colleagues or writing about it on a blog just helps. Often I find sharing my experience helps other people as well as myself, and people also help me keep my expectations in check (see above).
Wait in silence.
Ugh, right? Silence. A lot of times I give my anxieties, my frustrations, and my fears voices, and usually they are negative. They sound like little whiny mice moaning and groaning in my head. A lot of times those voices are my self-pity, which gets me nowhere. Sometimes it’s hard to be positive in the midst of waiting for something hard, so lately I’ve been trying to just be silent. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I cry, and sometimes my thoughts drift, but being silent and taking in the understanding that I am waiting gives the experience meaning. Just a couple times of silence in the waiting has also helped me feel rested instead of anxious, hopeful instead of nervous, or grounded instead of unsteady.
How do you wait well? What helps you live your life in the now in anticipation of what is ahead?
I’m still learning how to do this — I believe we all are at times — and would love to hear other ideas.