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Waiting: Choosing Calm Over Control

By Michele Howe

“…According to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.” Hippocrates

What type of client, customer or patient are you? When you walk through the waiting room door does the person on the other side flinch, tense, or otherwise prepare for attack? Do you disappoint, discourage, or offer a disgruntled impression? Is every statement or question voiced one punctuated by an undergirding of subtle disrespect, disinterest or distrust? What exactly is your attitude saying about you, your words notwithstanding?

It used to be that physicians had to memorize the Hippocratic oath, the most memorable line laypeople remember being, First, do not harm.” Nowadays, this pledge has been updated to make more practical sense in our modern high-tech society. Still, the underlying message remains the same. That is, one individual is making a promise to do his or her level best to help another person in need. Honestly now, aren’t we thankful that the majority of doctors and other professionals from whom we seek aid do abide by this long-standing motto? If we didn’t trust that person sitting on the other side of the desk (or across the room) to make a positive difference in our lives, we wouldn’t waste time seeking out their expertise, right?

Unfortunately, though we continue to seek out expert help from these professionals we’ve similarly begun to tote along with us an attitude of consumer elitism. Truth to tell, we’re ever-ready to assert our rights even when they’re not being compromised. We get angry when our appointment is pushed back. We feel frustrated when a promised contract doesn’t materialize. We complain and fret and moan about every little inconvenience without taking time to consider that our minor grievance could very well transform into another’s good. How so?

Consider this; the next time you’re left waiting for an hour because of an unexpected emergency and your friendly neighborhood professional begs your pardon upon greeting you…give it. Think about how you feel when your best-laid plans go wrong. We’ve all had those days when we started out on time armed with a solid plan of great intent and then we were interrupted, stalled, and thwarted. How did we feel? We were discouraged, weary, and wanted to give up. In the coming days, do yourself and everyone else a favor, hone that memory of yours that never forgets an offense against you for good of someone else and take the “oath” to keep others from harm. Purpose to never rattle someone’s already fragile emotional cage with your unrelenting demands or unrealistic expectations. Rather, tell them you understand. Tell them you appreciate their diligent service. Tell them, thank you. Guaranteed, you’ll begin to see the person behind the professional façade and we all know how terrific it feels to have someone see the “us” behind what we “do.” It can’t do any harm.

Takeaway Action Thought: Never view waiting as wasted time, these are simply opportune moments allotted for the purpose of regaining some inner stillness, calm and clarity.

Weight Bearing Exercises for Body and Soul Health

There are only two ways to wait. We either choose to wait well or we wait poorly. If we give in to impatient thoughts and words, then we risk jeopardizing both our health and those with whom we come into contact. In a society where there is only stop and go, waiting offers a welcome in-between space to purposefully hit the pause button and to rest and reflect. It doesn’t matter what we’re waiting for, an appointment, an apology, or an answer. It’s the conduct of our heart and minds that will make all the difference.

Waiting well –
* Lowers blood pressure; when we accept the uncontrollable as necessarily part of daily life our physical bodies take note and respond accordingly.
* Reduces inner-stress; from headaches to body aches…we just feel better when we realize we are not in control of others’ behaviors or responses, only our own.
* Makes one more productive; being forced to wait in one area allows more time and energy to invest in countless others, there is no wasted time if we use each day to its fullest.
* Allows for better decision making; rather than reacting with anger and impulsivity, we thoughtfully consider, decide, and determine taking into account all possible repercussions of our choices.
* Expands our understanding of another’s perspective; removing ourselves from the emotional intensity of the moment enables us to see a situation more accurately as time passes.
* Gives opportunity to love sacrificially; we deepen, grow, and change every time we put someone’s needs above our own, personal discomfort and all.

Waiting poorly –
* Raises blood pressure; as our mind thinks, our emotions flare, and from head to toe our bodies respond to the stress. What and how we process our thoughts and experiences does matter.
* Produces anxiety; we fret, worry, and stew…and completely forfeit the inner peace for which we so long.
* Inhibits productivity; when we focus exclusively on what we can’t have, we become completely immobilized and paralyzed, unable to be of any good to anyone or anything else in our lives.
* Increases chances of reacting impulsively; stand back, don’t react. The more frequently a person acts or speaks before thinking, the greater the potential for negative and long-lasting fallout.
* Shrinks one’s sense of proportion; when we only see our side of a situation, we’re not really viewing life as it really is. Whenever there are two people, there are two sides to every story, always.
* Robs one’s ability to grow by enduring difficulties; when we respond self-protectively or solely with self-interest, we are the ones who are short-changed most.

Excerpted from — Burdens Do a Body Good: Meeting Life’s Challenges with Strength (and Soul) Hendrickson Publishers, 2010

Read Michele’s column at: www.bizymoms.com/experts/michele-howe/index.html

Read Dr. Foetisch’s column at: www.bizymoms.com/experts/christopher-foetisch/index.html

©Michele Howe 2010. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Michele Howe is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly, FaithfulReader.com, Aspiring Retail, TeenReads.com and ForeWord Magazine and has published over 1000 articles/reviews. Some of her work has appeared in Midwest Living, Radiant, Discipleship Journal, Christian Single, Christianity Today, Group,Virtue, Christian Parenting Today, and Parentlife. She also writes a women’s lifestyle column, Embracing Life’s Curves, which is offered through the Syndicated Writers of America at www.buystory.com. Howe is employed by the Christian Communicator as a manuscript review editor and has published eight books for women including: Going It Alone: Meeting the Challenges of Being a Single Mom, Prayers for Homeschool Moms, Prayers for New and Expecting Moms, Prayers of Comfort and Strength, Prayers to Nourish a Woman’s Heart, Successful Single Moms, and Pilgrim Prayers for Single Mothers. Contact Michele at: jhowe@toast.net.