We’ve all had to wait for good things. Some waits are short and some are long. There are even times when the wait feels endless. In this post, we’re going to explain how you can avoid losing your mind while waiting.
THE EXPERIENCE OF WAITING
A wait always hogs the mind. As a result, the mind becomes absent from other moments and activities.
You eat, but mindlessly. You work, but mindlessly. You talk to people, but mindlessly. Everything goes by without participation or awareness, and all you’re left with in the end is the duration of the wait. The only thing your mind registered from your entire day was the wait.
This sort of mindlessness is not a problem if the wait is short. But if the wait is long, then the mindlessness begins to cause a disconnect between you and your life. The longer the wait, the more this disconnect deepens. Eventually, you feel so disconnected from life that you feel lost, purposeless and meaningless.
At some point, you find your way back to your mind. But at that point, the mindlessness has already taken its toll on you. So when you do find your mind, the only thing that seems important is the wait. The wait that’s still not over. The wait that “never” ends. Next thing you know, you are sick of a life that’s only about waiting; and that’s when you break.
Once you break, you can have severe reactions such as crying or screaming. You might even experience reckless and extreme reactions such as binge drinking (please don’t), overdosing (please don’t) or suicide (please don’t).
Waiting involves a goal. Maybe you are waiting for a satisfying career. Or, maybe you are waiting for the right one to come along after a string of failed relationships. There is always a goal.
The thing about goals is that there is always someone else who has already achieved them. There is always that person who is a reminder of everything you’re missing because you’re still waiting. There are also times when a song or scene reminds you of that, instead of a person.
In the end, one way or another, you feel the sting of missing out. To put it gently, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world.
Lost time and the damage that is done
Time is the great enemy of patient progress. Nobody lives forever. Plus, as you age, certain goals become less accessible. At the end of the day, most have about 4 – 5 decades to achieve their life goals.
But misfortune is a thing. You can lose big chunks of time because a decision didn’t work out, and there is no way to recover that time. As if that isn’t bad enough, all that time can cause significant mental damage too. For example, someone who lost their youth to violent military service will likely be scarred for life. Similarly, someone who has never had a successful relationship in their youth will likely be insecure about it for a good part of their middle-adulthood.
Still so far away
I would say that putting in day after day of patience and effort with no reward in sight is the hardest mental experience of all. There are some who have to work through several years before tasting any reward. There are also those who lose many important eras before tasting any rewards. Eras marked by milestones such as highschool, college, first crushes etc. There is nothing as crushing as a goal that is still so far away despite titanic periods of patience and effort.
Make tangible gains towards the waiting goal
If your are waiting for a successful relationship, then go on a new date. Keep going on new dates until you can feel for sure that the wait is ending. Bear in mind that there are no problem-free relationships. But there are relationships were success seems much more likely despite the problems.
Whatever your waiting goal is, whether it’s relationships, trying to fix a broken career, whatever it is, make tangible gains. Gains that you can see and feel even if its in a very small way at first.
Build other stakes
The event with the highest stakes is the wait. The stakes are so high that no other event seems to matter at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Someone waiting for a successful relationship, for instance, can build other stakes in say making a difference in the world and leaving behind a legacy. As another example, someone waiting for a normal life after being horribly scarred in their early years can build stakes in a warm friendship — one that can make a great bonding story one day. The only way to pull your mind away from the ultramagnetic appeal of the wait is to build other stakes. Big stakes.
Make tangible gains towards the other stakes
It’s not enough to dream big. The dream creates the stakes. But the dream alone cannot maintain the stakes. The only thing that can maintain the stakes is tangible gains — gains that you can see and feel.
If making a difference is the area in which you’re building other stakes, then go to a rally or march and walk away with real exposure to a real cause.
Similarly, if building a warm friendship is the area, then make sure you see and feel the warmth that you’re bringing into the other person’s life. It could be through some kind gesture you made, or just by being there for them when no one else was. It could even be just drinking a whole bottle of scotch with them and thus giving them a good time.
Prepare for bouts of missing out
In most cases, the “I’m missing out” is not just a feeling. It’s true. You did miss out. So, of course, you’re going to feel that way. You can’t avoid these bouts. There’s always going to be that someone, song or scene that reminds you of what could have been. It’s okay. Just sit on the feeling. Cry, scream, do whatever you need to do. Just try to limit the period, and get back to building stakes and making tangible gains.
The gap may stay wide for a good while
The big wait could be around for a good long while. But it helps to make tangible gains towards it, build other stakes and make tangible gains towards those other stakes as well. Of course, you will inevitably have bouts of “I’m missing out” and “it never ends.” But that’s human. It’s okay. Just try to limit the time and damage from such episodes.
Understand that sometimes its about other people too
A rock solid way to build other stakes is to care for other people. Maybe, this person is a difficult friend. Maybe, they’re your child or nephew/niece. Maybe, they’re your special friend who can be difficult at times. Maybe, they’re a really needy dog. It’s exhausting having to think about yourself all the time, and innvesting time and effort in the selfless service of others is a terrific safeguard/cushion against the perils of waiting.
In this post, we talked about the experience of waiting and how to make any wait easier to bear. We’d love to hear about your own journey in the comments! Thank you for reading!