Historically, I’ve had trouble dealing with delay. I don’t like it. It’s especially challenging when I have to wait to get what I want. It’s as though my ego doesn’t allow me to see anyone else’s perspective, and I want what I want now. I don’t want to wait. I’m inherently impatient.
That’s an unattractive quality, and I’ve been working for years to change. I’d rather possess quiet, steady perseverance and emit calm assertive energy. I’m happy with my progress, but there’s always room for improvement. In fact, I’m tested daily. Most of the time nowadays, I pass the test, but occasionally fail. Those are learning moments and opportunities to develop the high patient tolerance level I crave.
To develop patience, I decided to treat it as a habit I wanted to form. After all, a habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary and that’s what I wanted, for it to become second nature.
So here’s what I do now for every difficult decision. I give it as much time as needed until I know what the right thing to do is. The mnemonic, CNA, helps me to remember the behavioral process:
- Confess that my natural state is selfish and impatient, driven by my ego and not what I want. I need to be forgiven, and my mind and heart need to be opened to see other perspectives.
- Get my attitude in Neutral about the decision by clearing and calming my mind and committing it to God’s will, not mine. This is analogous to putting a car in neutral gear. Not drive, nor reverse, but neutral. Have an attitude of not caring which direction the car goes as long as it’s the direction God wants it to go. This can only happen in neutral gear.
- Ask God to reveal his will by giving my spirit a desire to do the right thing. For this to happen, I need to give it time. I need to wait. I need to be patient.
Confess. Neutral. Ask. CNA.
It’s how to develop patience as a habit.
One thought on “Patience as a Habit”
Helpful contemporizing of the ancient Jesuit practice of “detachment”.