Waiting When It Hurts
Do you know what sucks really bad?
Wanting something so much that you would make major life changes -even sacrifice things- to have it, but having no control over when or if you will get it.
Maybe it's a big next step in your career that would change your life or an opportunity that lights you up just thinking about it. Maybe it is readiness to grow your family or make a major life change that would greatly impact your happiness. Maybe it's really needing good news surrounding the health of you or someone you love. Whatever that is for you, I know that you understand the feeling of closing your eyes and saying "plleeeassseee let this work out".
But, then there is the wait.
And sometimes it really hurts.
Sometimes the wait grinds us down and that feeling of discontent spreads to all aspects of our life. Sometimes we feel unable to even entertain the possibility of that thing not working out, because we aren't sure how we would move forward if things took the alternate route. Sometimes waiting makes us feel angry, frustrated, stuck, sad, or even numb.
And here's the thing:
While we can't always control the wait or the outcome, how we treat ourselves in this uncomfortable space means so much.
Trust me, I wish I could fill this blog with ways to short-cut the wait or even make it go away. But, what I can offer is a way to make the wait a little more bearable through self-kindness.
The truth is that while we are waiting, life keeps happening- we still have deadlines to meet, responsibilities to show up for, and people counting on us. The option will always exist to shut-down a little, disconnect, and try to detach from our emotions so that we can navigate our day-to-day lives without feeling completely pre-occupied and distracted.
But, I'm going to go ahead and remind you that YOU ARE A HUMAN.
You're not a machine. You don't have an on/off switch.
And, unfortunately, neither do your emotions.
You can stuff them down, cover them up with coffee and a hectic schedule, but they're still happening and stacking up within your nervous system.
So -please, hear me out- while I suggest an alternative option.
What if, instead of trying to ignore the fact that you're going through a difficult period of waiting or of not having the answers that would bring you peace and direction, you show yourself some kindness. What if I told you that self-kindness can be as simple as acknowledging that what you're going through is real, and valid, and giving yourself some space to for that.
Honestly, I know it can sound scary to even acknowledge our emotions sometimes. I know it can feel like a choice between shutting them off completely or opening the "flood gates". Yet, things aren't always that black and white- in fact, I think there's a lot of gray in waiting. Some ways to honor the gray, may be:
Adjusting your schedule to reflect that it may take you longer to do things or you may need more breaks as you navigate this time
Decreasing commitments in the evening/ in your free-time to allow for more rest
Noticing if you are "running" from one thing to another to avoid your emotions
Considering healthy outlets for your emotions that feel safe/ comfortable (journaling, reaching out more to supports, going to therapy, increasing exercise, etc.)
Monitoring your internal dialogue to make sure you aren't adding more pressure or judgement on yourself
While it may feel vulnerable at first, the gray already exists and acknowledging it will only help you navigate better. I hope the wait is over soon, but until then- be kind.
Meredith Waller MSW, LCSW
Based in Boulder, CO and offering online counseling throughout Colorado
-Certified Shame-Informed Treatment Specialist
-Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional