This week I cut a 4-inch, 40-pound foam mattress into small pieces with an electric knife. I know it sounds crazy but it was strangely satisfying.
I had been dragging this mattress around my house for at least 6 months – I dragged it off of the bed onto the floor where it rested for several weeks. Then I dragged it upstairs – then I dragged it downstairs again. Last week, I finally disposed of it in a crazed, spontaneous and determined moment. I even videotaped the whole thing – knowing that this brilliant impulse moment would be my viral launch to fame.
My “mattress moment” was a moment of revelation.
The act of disposing it distracted my mind in a beautifully productive way. And I needed a distraction - I am waiting for something to happen.
While I wait, I have been looking for ways to fill my brain - stay relaxed, get things done, fill the time, don’t overthink, don’t hold on too tight to expected outcomes, etc.
It seems like everyone I talk to now is waiting for something:
Waiting for a baby to be born.
Waiting for the dream vacation to start.
Waiting for a special celebration to take place.
Waiting for the results of a job application or interview.
Waiting for a new career or life path to unfold before us.
Waiting for a decision on a proposal that’s been submitted.
Waiting for the passage of time to heal an injury, illness or a loss.
What are you waiting for?
Suspended in Time
Life is punctuated by moments when we are waiting for something to happen.
These moments in our personalized “waiting rooms” can make us feel like we are suspended in time – and this suspension can make us feel excited, jittery, nervous, impatient, etc.
While we wait, outcomes may seem like they are out of our control – which is uncomfortable place for most of us. Like many of my friends, colleagues and clients, I crave clear next steps and waiting can be challenging.
What’s the Use of Waiting?
If you’re waiting for something to happen, take heart.
There is purpose in waiting. It’s all about the process – and the process of waiting is filled with lessons.
There’s always a lesson to be learned.
For example, I have learned that I am not very patient – but it has also taught me how ready I am to move forward into my new direction. Both lessons provide important fuel for me.
Six Tips for Managing the Wait
There are things we can and should do to manage the waiting period. Here are six ideas.
(1) Relieve the Stress.
Waiting for something to happen can result in pent up energy, thought or emotion so initiate some action to move it out. Create an opportunity to cry, dance, laugh, exercise, stretch, breathe, sleep, run, etc. What we are looking for is an activity that is right for you that will bring you immediate relief – move the pent-up energy out of your body and it will help you breathe a little easier.
(2) Empty Your Brain
One of the most productive activities we can engage in while we wait is pouring the thoughts out of our brain.
Talk it out. Lessen the weight of it by talking it out with a trusted colleague, family member or friend. Sometimes simply expressing your thoughts out loud can be a relief.
Write it out. Relieve your mind with a brain dump – on paper. Write down what you know. Put it in paragraph form or bullet form. Put it into goals if that helps. Releasing the thoughts in a concrete manner will offer immediate therapy and will allow hindsight later.
(3) Stop Thinking.
If you are like most people, inviting mindlessness is easier said than done. If you have an active inner dialogue, let your brain rest for a while – invite it into a mindless activity. Read a riveting book, work on a puzzle, clean out a closet, pull weeds, engage in a hobby, meditate, get into your zone. Find something to assist you as you seek brain relief.
(4) Do for Others.
One of the best things we can do when we are wrapped up in our own thoughts is to focus on doing for others. Visit someone who is ill, write that notecard, volunteer for a worthy cause, initiate a random act of kindness (hide a dollar bill somewhere, paint a rock with a positive message, bring flowers to a nursing home. Make a list of simple things you can do and then pick one - the time will pass so beautifully.
(5) Envision Success.
Don’t forget to envision positive outcomes while you wait. Imagine yourself moving with ease through next steps. Write about the future vision without attaching too closely to a specific outcome. Reassure yourself that everything is unfolding as it should, that all is well, that you have done a great job preparing for this moment. Remind yourself that there are no wrong steps – this moment is a moment to build upon and great things are ahead for you.
(6) Go for Deeper Lessons.
What are some positive lessons you are learning about yourself while you wait? Are there some areas for growth? There’s a message waiting for you in your personalized waiting room – ask to receive it and listen for the whispers in the wind. You are exactly where you need to be. And there are many paths, so surrender to the moment knowing that all is well.
We are all waiting for something and our challenge – as it is for most life processes - is to let it go. Take heart knowing that….
You have given 100%.
You have done your very best.
It is out of your hands.
Now it is time to trust the process.
The challenge is to hold a positive thought while we let go of outcomes.
Be kind to yourself while you wait. Your waiting room is your unique curriculum – listen to teacher. There is more to this moment than meets the eye.
You’ll know what to do next.
Let me know if I can help.
© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on motivational programs.