Understanding, patience and kindness. These are three simple modes of relating to ourselves and others that can be especially valuable in stressful times. Unfortunately, stressful times are also when these virtues can be most difficult to conjure up.
The ongoing pandemic has raised (and continues to raise) the stress-levels for many people, which can make otherwise relatively manageable activities such as driving in traffic and shopping at the grocery store a little more challenging to negotiate. And then there is navigating even more complex parts of life, such as work and relationships. Many of us are finding that it doesn’t take quite as much these days to tip us over into “fight or flight” mode. When this happens, our emotional reactions can further escalate already stressful situations.
This is where understanding, patience and kindness can be of help. Understanding in this context means understanding that we’re all human, we’re all imperfect, and we’re all doing our best. Being in touch with this understanding can then lead us to kindness, which starts with the realization that we all deserve compassion and respect, and also involves expressions of goodwill and acts of service. One such act of service is patience, which is the giving of time and space to someone to work through a challenge without pressure or judgment. These are gifts that we can give to ourselves and each other.
In order to have more ready access to these virtues, it can be useful to practice on a regular basis. First, take a moment to pause. Then, take a slow, deep breath and say to yourself the following affirmations:
- No one is perfect; we all make mistakes.
- We’re all doing our best with the tools we have in challenging conditions.
- We’re all worthy of love and respect.
With more understanding, kindness and patience – for ourselves and each other – we may just find that life’s challenges seem a little more manageable.
Good luck and be well!