You won’t help shoots grow by pulling them up higher. – Chinese Proverb
What does that mean?
Shoots, being a term for young plants, need to grow to be useful. So the sooner they grow tall, the sooner you get to harvest them. However, as this saying states, pulling on them doesn’t make them taller, it just pulls them out of the ground. Not exactly helpful.
To me, this points to the emotional conflict of haste vs patience. There is nothing you can do, other than providing the necessities for the plant, such as water and nutrients, to speed the growth process. Attempts to hasten it are doomed to failure.
Why is patience important?
I want the answer, and I want it NOW! But seriously, will getting agitated while in line at a store really make the line move any faster? How does getting agitated about anything help the situation? Will it make your life easier? Will it make anyone else’s life easier? Will it make the situation improve? Or will it just make you look like an impatient buffoon (delusions of grandeur are optional)?
Patience, it is said, is the ability to endure difficult or trying times. Really, how difficult or trying is it, to have to suffer through a call for a manager to the register? Can you compare that to the trying times endured by the people living in war zones or in regions suffering from famine, earthquake or typhoons? Sometimes, a little perspective helps. Other times, logic will suffice.
If you answered the questions in the prior paragraph, you can probably see where this is going. Getting upset isn’t going to improve the situation for anyone. Although, perhaps, there might be a brief bit of relief for you from the venting, how will you feel later that day (perhaps like a jerk)? What if you run into one of the people who were standing in line with a little later in the week? How awkward would that be? Would you still feel better?
Where can I apply this in my life?
We have done quite a thorough job of discussing the shopping line patience, so where else can patience be applied? That is going to be kind of personal, and rely on you being honest with yourself. When do you feel frustrated? At work, with some of your co-workers, the copy machine, the coffee machine, the boss? At home, with your pets, your friends, family, or neighbors, or even the bills?
How about in traffic, with the person driving slowly in your lane or the tailgater is trying to push you? Perhaps it’s the person who is obviously lost and can’t seem to find Elm Street who really gets to you? How about kids? Yours or those kids who aren’t. How well does yelling at them work? How well did it work for your parents? Did it ever work for the neighbors whom you annoyed when you were young?
So, now that we have identified places where you LACK patience, how does one overcome it? A lot will depend on how your mind works. If it responds to logic during stressful times, perhaps the simple asking of the question “how does being agitated improve the situation?” will prove sufficient.
For most of us, it takes a little more, at least to start. I started with the “two deep breaths” – that is, you don’t say something uncomplimentary without first taking two deep breaths. This gives you plenty of oxygen for your brain to use, and plenty of time to choose the best words for a truly spectacular insult. No, WAIT! What I meant to say was: plenty of time to clarify what the proper course of action would be, and to reconsider your words. Whew! Glad I took the time to get that right.
You must become more aware of the rising of frustration within you. As you get better at recognizing it, you will be able to head it off before it becomes an angry outburst. Once the source of the rising frustration has been identified, how does one change the path from frustration to something more useful? Perhaps you can identify with the person at the register, and their frustration at not being able to move the line along. Perhaps you can remember the time you were lost in a strange neighborhood and relate a little better to the driver who is annoying you.
To use another old saying “walk a mile in their shoes”. This is another technique that can help you replace frustration and anger with compassion. Perhaps you have other methods, but these have worked well for me. As always, “your mileage may vary”, but that’s yet another saying…
From: Twitter, @ancientProverbs
confirmed at: http://www.special-dictionary.com/proverbs/keywords/pulling/ (see #1)
Photo by gareth1953