Welcome to a newly re-visioned Alive & Awake! Expect short, digestible posts on ubiquitous themes of the human experience, always with a practical finale. Can’t wait to hear what you think! Without further ado...
A traffic jam. A check-out line. The days, weeks, months before that milestone is reached, that loved one comes home, those results are in. Waiting.
From everyday idleness, to delayed gratification, to profound uncertainty, waiting casts us into the in-between where, it turns out, there is a lot to bear: stuckness, longing, striving unrewarded. Dread of the expected, terror of the unknown. Not having the answer, when the answer would change everything.
It may be passive, but waiting can be grueling.
Idleness invites our most ignored thoughts and feelings to surface. The mind sees an opening, then puts whatever needs tending before us.
Delayed gratification invites despair. As we kindle the faith that all of this will pay off, inevitably the thought creeps in: what if it never does?
Uncertainty short-circuits the equipment. Our brains, risk calculation machines that they are, demand complete data. They tend to spin out around glaring holes in the available information.
None of this feels good. It may even feel unbearable.
And so, we seek relief.
We escape into compulsive distraction, numb with our old standbys. We obsessively search our minds for resolution that can't be found. We panic, hijacked by the worst case scenario. We collapse, lose heart that the waiting will ever end.
So how do we bear it? How do we wait?
1. Start by being here. Hi 👋🏻 Welcome to waiting. We all spend a lot of time doing this throughout our lives, so getting good at it is pretty useful.
2. Check on yourself. Where are you within your window of tolerance? If at any point it gets to be too much, skip to #6.
4. Take stock. How’s it going so far? What kinds of sensations, thoughts, impulses, and emotions are you noticing?
6. When you’ve had enough, distract. There’s no shame in diverting from distress when you need to. Try to choose low-harm distractions (like Netflix or a hobby) over high-harm ones (like addictive behaviors that hurt your body), if you can.
7. Remember: This too shall pass. Time marches on. You will not feel this way forever.
What is waiting like for you? What helps you get through?