We always give priority to outward attributes. You know the ones; kindness, empathy, being helpful, supportive. Essentially, how we treat others, but we never talk about inward attributes. How we treat ourselves. For me, the most important of those is ‘Self-Patience’. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a person say that word, I mean it sounds so unusual to say, I have suspicions it’s not a word….But let’s continue on the premise that it’s one of the most widely used and adored words there is.
‘Self-Patience’ is everything. It’s the inner conversation you have with yourself every day. You live with that inner person more than anyone else; it is very much a relationship. How we speak to ourselves pretty much entirely determines our mental and physical health. The reason I place so much weighting on having this attribute is that it determines your ability to treat others in the right way too. It’s also the reason I am where I am today, but I’ll get onto that shortly.
When a person isn’t patient with themselves, they’re inevitably less happy. They pile way too much pressure on themselves, they beat themselves up. I’m not a medical expert by any stretch, but the weight of those self-deprecating moments compiling over years can’t be healthy.
We live long lives, we have many days to work on growth and improvement. Every minute of each of those days is a chance to self-reflect and make tweaks. That means you have quite literally, all the chances in the world to make mistakes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not handing you a license to go and do something that’ll harm others. This isn’t me telling you that cheating on your partner is suddenly excused….BUT, knowing that there is cause and effect in every mistake; understanding why each mistake happens. It’s a powerful tool for self-improvement.
I am an entirely imperfect, human being. Very much a work in progress; but a damn fine piece of work it’ll be…..Eventually.
I make mistakes, every single day. So many I genuinely couldn’t keep track. I own multiple coffee businesses but I’ll wake up in the morning and make a terrible cup of coffee.
I class myself as fairly confident, but I’ll have some of the most socially awkward encounters you’re ever likely to see. It happens a lot.
I’ll be trying to lose weight, but then 4 days have gone by and I’ll have eaten pizza each and every one of those nights.
One word applies to all of those scenarios. ‘Whatever’.
Who cares, genuinely? I made a terrible coffee because I didn’t sleep well and I was a zombie walking around the kitchen….Those encounters were awkward because I’m still working on my social confidence and most importantly WE’VE BEEN IN A PANDEMIC FOR OVER A YEAR (This applies to many problems. In fact, blame all of your problems on covid, it very much deserves it). I ate pizza 4 nights on the run because running multiple businesses through a pandemic is a slog, I pretty much work all day every day, I was burned out without realising it and I WANTED PIZZA.
You’ve got to be your own best friend. You’ll get to where you want to be at the end of the day. Where you want to be right now will look very different to where you want to be in 5 years time. Life is an ever changing, unpredictable beast in great ways and sometimes terrible ways; so stop beating yourself up.
Most things in life are hard, especially the most wanted of them. financial freedom, achieving happiness, reaching peak physical health/performance, starting a family etc. They all take a hell of a lot of work, and with that comes a LOT of low points, so buckle up and cheer yourself on.
Let’s use a job interview as a scenario. Maybe you don’t perform the way you want to. Why was that? Was it nerves? In that case, don’t blame yourself, nerves are out of your control. The more you do, the more you’ll be in your element. Other opportunities will come.
Was it lack of preparation? Okay, in that case, it’s your fault, but that’s a good thing! At least you know that it’s in your control. Next interview, put in the work beforehand and boss it. Learn from the result but don’t ever compare yourself to the person who got the job. There are a million reasons why another person could be chosen for a role, and trust me, most of them don’t involve actual potential to fulfil the job remit.
My experiences of ‘Self-Patience’.
Let me finish up with my own life story and how ‘Self-Patience’ has helped me so much.
It’s been ingrained into my personality over time. I’ve never consciously practiced it but as I mentioned previously; we live through so many ups and downs, every single day, It’s impossible not to regularly have conversations with ourselves about how certain events played out.
I was raised in a loving household, but one filled with criticism and high standards. It was an environment built on values, rules and I shared it with one older brother and a twin sister. My mothers support naturally gravitated towards my sister and my fathers support to my brother, who was older and had common interests.
This led me to becoming incredibly competitive, vying for support and attention through picking up hobbies and becoming the best at them. I wasn’t happy unless I was better than everyone else; and I would REALLY beat myself up. I was that competition tennis player that would smash my racquet on the floor when I served into the net.
Anyway, fast forward a few years and I became very comfortable spending time with myself. I became a survivalist in a way. That sounds a bit dramatic considering I lived in a nice house and was always fed home-cooked meals, but let me explain. I suddenly did anything to escape drama. If there were raging arguments in the house, I’d take the path of least resistance, apologise and move on. That way I could go upstairs and play Xbox quicker. My brother and sister would continue to stubbornly argue back. I learned the value of putting pride aside to get to where I wanted to be; even if that was in front of my TV playing Halo.
I’d say social confidence has been the biggest journey of development for me. I preferred my own company because to be quite honest, I preferred myself to others. I treated myself better than others would treat me.
People including those closest to me, wouldn’t emotionally provide what I needed them to, so I gave up requiring it from them. It was as simple as that.
The competitive side of me never left, I don’t think it ever will; but it’s healthier now. I had multiple larger events which slowed me down and forced me to be patient with myself.
First of all, I snapped both ACL ligaments in my knees playing football. Yep, you heard it. I snapped the right ACL, had it reconstructed through surgery, did the 6 months (at least) rehabilitation and then snapped the other. Talk about rough luck.
A few years later in 2016, I was living away from home at University and had my first taste of a virus. I still to this day, don’t know what it was exactly, but it knocked me for six. Still the worst 3 weeks of my life.
A short time after, I began experiencing some really strange physical issues. I suspect that the virus was so stressful for my body that it triggered some sort of negative physical shift. My hands started losing all feeling and turning a weird colour. My fingers would be dead white and my hands would be a deep read and purple, like my fingers had just handed every drop of blood over to the rest of the hand.
I’d really struggle tying my shoe laces until the feeling came back, which took a while. I worked out that it was down to the cold or stress. Naturally, I worked out some ways to combat it, as we do. We adapt.
So like a typical boy, I accepted the new arrangement and cracked on. No doctors appointments, no check-ups. Well, some time passed and a few more physical ailments crept in. My body would flare up, and the only way I can describe it is through the feeling the morning after a heavy workout…..but as if I’d been at the gym lifting weights 12 hours a day for 6 months. Literally that bad. Putting clothes on was exhausting and painful so I just stayed in bed until it calmed down, which it did, after a few days. I just put it down to physical stress, maybe a bit of flu. I’d been working out a lot so maybe I needed that break.
When I felt life was returning to normality a little, low and behold a new exciting surprise arrived. I noticed I was suddenly unable to press down on my deodorant with my thumbs, they were literally not strong enough to push the spray out. Definitely wasn’t a fan of this new development
Anyway, weeks went by and new experiences kept rearing their ugly head. I would wake up in a fit of coughing in the middle of the night due to acid regurgitation and I was physically incapable of using my hands to push myself up and get out of bed (I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor at the time, thought it was cool). I would have to roll over and use my elbows/forearms to get up slowly.
It was brutal, as much as it was humbling.
After a whole host of blood tests, I was diagnosed with an Auto-Immune disease called MCTD. Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. It’s pretty rare but in a nutshell, from my research, it’s a lucky dip of all the fun parts of different auto-immune conditions. Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, GERD, Lupus and more. It was also degenerative, which is not a word anyone really wants to hear. Basically meaning, it’ll go downhill over time. I was set to deteriorate.
Anyway, drama over. I was given a load of sweets (medication) and sent home with some leaflets. Good times.
The past few years since that diagnosis, has been a catalyst for my journey of learning ‘Self-Patience’. I had to quickly accept my limitations but also fight against the notion that my life had to completely change. Yes, I managed to get competitive with a disease. Classic.
The most important lesson was that I had to stop comparing myself to others. My journey was different. My route to achieving certain things, was going to be different. Whatever. Who cares?
Since then, I’ve completed a Masters Degree, I own 4 businesses and last year I just made the rash decision to stop taking all of my medication (Probably wasn’t a super sensible move but it paid off!).
The takeaway message is, I’ll keep moving forward and keep growing towards the life I want to live and the person I want to be, because I’ll do it in my way. I’ll fail so many times, but I’ll be okay with each and every one of those failures.
I’ll tell myself to brush myself off and try again. Whether that’s a big failure or a micro every day kind of failure. Anyway, I’m off to make a terrible cup of coffee.