Patience, Frustration, and Why They Are Good Things
Admitting that I get frustrated is the first step. The second is not beating yourself up for realizing it. Everyone gets frustrated, some just hide it by not showing you. Recently, I posted the following question to some friends on Google+.
"I might answer my own question by posting this. How do you all cultivate patience?I could describe how this is done from a Buddhist perspective but I'm having problems being patient even with that. And it's frustrating."
All the responses were great and centered around questioning why we have a gap in what we want and where we are, getting into the passion flow (zone), and letting the process cultivate patience.
Truth is, I was/still am so clouded by my own creation of suffering I haven't been in the moment. I've been wanting to remove the impatience, when that really can't happen. We have to live with it, be kind to ourselves, use it as practice. Oh, that easy?
No, I'm afraid it's not easy. But it will become easy with practice. As will what I produce in photography. Getting wrapped up in wanting to impress others or ourselves is missing the point of what a practice is. If you can't enjoy the path, what's the point of getting to the top? Again, just that easy, huh? No.
Resistance to what we know seems to be so easy, so I'll go back to what I've practiced for fifteen years to help myself, and you, maybe see a sliver of how it came become easy. In my quest to find a cure for frustration, I found something better. This is an article from tricycle magazine by Michele McDonald that I remember reading and I'm glad I found again.
If you are a parent, a boss, a coworker, a friend, a photographer or artist, a banker, hell, a human, this will be appropriate for you. I'll bring out some key points but it's a quick read and worth your time.
Patience is motivated by our desire for inward and outward peace and by faith in our ability to accept things as they are.
It's that "ability to accept things as they are," that really causes the problem. So, how do you do that?
- Gentle Forbearance - Life and people are full of imperfections. Take a breath and don't yell at my child for his own frustration or say harmful words to another human who may be less skillful in how they communicate. Or in my immediate case, not reacting to my own frustration with harsh thoughts of "why bother at this photography thing, you suck."
- Endurance of Hardship - Impatience and frustration happens, eradication isn't the answer, it will still be there when we look again. Frustration is resistance to how things really are. Relaxing into what is going on at this moment cultivates patience. "Relinquish the need to know what's going to happen next."
- Acceptance of the Truth - Accept our experience as it is. But how do we strive to be better if we are accepting what is? By realizing that our experience changes and tomorrow will be different than today. We may hold an ideal we strive for in our minds but to be frustrated we aren't that today by just wishing it, will just lead to frustration. This is the biggest aspect I need to realize. Hold the idea in our minds, accept that experience changes, know that all things pass.
A bit heavy in Buddhism, but it's what gets me through. Hopefully, in reading this, it makes sense for you as well. You can't get rid of frustration but you can accept that it's there and tomorrow it may be less so. Stopping yourself from escalating frustration by forbearance is the first skill to stopping the carousel from spinning, living with frustration and accepting it is the key.
There was a woman who I went to high school with. We lost touch over the years but recently reconnected on social media. After high school she went into the Navy and suffered an accident that severed her spinal cord. Less of an accident, she was raped, beaten and tossed off a cliff by a fellow Navy crewman. Stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. You'd think this was a depressing story. It's not. When I reconnected with her, she had endured many surgeries that included stem cells and rehabilitation. For an injury that everyone said would lead to living in a wheelchair the rest of her life. After years of endurance, she can now walk and is now telling her story so as to inspire others to endure the frustrations because nothing ever really stays the same.
From the following Vimeo description of her ordeal:
In October 1990, Dana Liesegang; "strong, happy-go-lucky, 19," and newly-enlisted in the U.S. Navy, left ship to mail a letter to her sweetheart back home. On the return walk to post, a young, male diver from a neighboring ship offered her a ride. The 5'3" young woman who boasted a 155 lb. bench press, believed she could "handle anything." What she knew about herself proved true, after the man violently attacked, raped, and thrust her off the 80-foot high Sunset Cliffs that night. She awoke from an 18-hour coma, in a hospital, steadfastly unchanged in her penchant for independence, but on a ventilator, paralyzed from the neck down.
Now a retired, Disabled United States Veteran, Dana lives to help others. She has begun to walk again.
Perspective, the ability to think of others and realize your frustrations are far less than you think.