As a child, waiting for that gift-giving occasion when you’ve asked for something special. Waiting for dinner when you are hungry now. Being told, “Wait until your father gets home!” when you’ve done something wrong. Waiting for your parent(s) to stop where there is a toilet, when you really have to go. We have all had training in waiting. Children under the age of two years do not have a concept of time — everything is now or never. Between the ages of two and seven years, children begin to understand time, although it is still for short periods (days rather than weeks); by the time they are eleven they can think in terms of years. But does the waiting ever get easier?
Research tells us if we had our needs responded to quickly when we were infants and toddlers, we tend to see the world as a friendly place that will meet our needs, and the waiting is easier. There was a time when they thought that was spoiling the child, and there are still non-responsive parents, so there are a lot of us out in the world who were raised to see the world as unpredictable or unavailable. For people like that, waiting is much more difficult.
Fortunately waiting is something we can still learn to deal with as adults. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Women who have been pregnant and had a child get a very basic lesson in waiting during those months of gestation. Good friends are expecting their first child, and I had to laugh at the photo they posted on Facebook, with the caption, “Let’s get this party started!”
People deal with waiting in various ways. Often they use distraction — thinking about or working on something else while they wait. The smaller the anticipated event, the easier it is to distract. Having a definite date to look forward to also helps. But it is those events totally out of our control that become difficult. I have caught myself thinking I am handling the waiting just fine, when my body begins reacting to the stress. That’s when I used a variety of conscious meditation and grounding techniques, to let the stress go. Usually it works.
What are your thoughts on waiting? Does it irritate you? Can you handle it? If you do handle it, how do you do it?