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It was 6:45 pm and I had crossed the DND and I was waiting at the red light of Mayur Vihar. Suddenly a few cars came from the wrong side and blocked the roads. It took us 1.5 hours to reach home. It means I wasted 1 hour 15 minutes in the jam which was caused for no fault of mine. I was cursing these people in my head and prayed that the traffic police clears up the traffic. I kept quiet and reached home.
Next day around 12:30 pm I was driving to reach my destination when I honked really loud at the driver in front of me. She was talking over the phone and not moving the car despite the road being empty. “Why should I wait and get stuck because somebody else has got a call? She shouldn’t be talking while driving. She should park on the left and then talk….”, I thought to myself. “Every time because of such people there are jams on the roads, I get to wait and waste time. There isn’t one but so many obstacles which hinder my driving. Sometimes it is the sharing autos waiting for their sawaari or people listening to music while crossing the road when it is green….”, there were multiple similar thoughts racing in my head while I kept my hand on the horn. She pressed the accelerator and slid towards left. She was puzzled and even gestured to ask me why was I honking so loud and this further enraged me. I really wanted to tell her the cause of my furious reaction but I thought of going ahead.
Many of us who drive on the roads of Delhi/NCR can relate to this episode. But why am I sharing it in this article as this isn’t about traffic sense of people in Delhi/NCR but about an insight I gained after my agitated reaction.
I was embarrassed and questioned myself that why did I react so loud at that driver? I did not react in the same manner to the others in this similar loud manner the previous day then why that day I lost my cool.
I always believed that I am a patient person but because I lost my cool clearly shows that I am not. I had been tolerating all these years and not being patient.
There is a difference between being tolerant and being patient. My frustration which was stemming from my failing attempts to control other people resulted in anger outburst. So many times we are stuck in an inside dialogue on how should s/he react or do things in his/her life. We also start to believe that we know it all and we assume that what we are thinking is the absolute truth. We think and we make others also think the same way that being quiet means we are patient humans. Being patient is a sign of humbleness and evolved humans. Then one fine day when we scream or cry we get people’s sympathy or empathy, basically a license to react aggressively as we have been patient all these days/weeks/hours/years. This is not what patience is, I realized in the traffic of Delhi/NCR. Staying quiet and racing thoughts about should/should not is a sign of being tolerant. Whereas being patient means to accept the other person and situation exactly the way it is. When there is no need to control events and people around you and you accept that the person in front of you is talking over the phone and s/he will not move and you don’t’ judge that person with your should/should not list and you steer your car to right and overtake (if possible) or simply stay behind that person and honk once, is a sign that you are being patient. Acceptance of the people and events without judgement is patience.
So many of us, especially when we hit 40 we say to ourselves or our spouse or family that now I am becoming impatient. Basically we are communicating that we do not have the physical and emotional energy to ‘tolerate’. Our frustration tolerance is going down because if we were patient then we wouldn’t want to change the other person or situation or the question to tolerate wouldn’t arise.
When we are relatively young, say in our 20s and we fall in love and marry that love of our life we think and imagine and believe that we will manage it all. We think and believe that we have accepted him/her unconditionally and accepted all his/her flaws along with his/her strengths. It is because we have the physical and emotional energy to ‘tolerate’ at that young age of 25. But as our energies begin to deplete we become less tolerant and we start to conclude that the love is missing. Whereas we fail to realize that love never was present. We compromised on each other thinking that we will manage.
We have been taught in our television serials or in our families we observe that staying quiet and keeping oneself in a state of suffering is making us stronger and humble etc. etc.
Someone shared with me that now he returns home being impatient. He is irritated and loses his cool easily at his children and wife. When I spoke to him if he was being tolerant all these years or patient, he immediately reflected and said “I was being tolerant and not patient”. He started to accept his co-workers exactly the way they are. He stopped controlling or questioning their intent and actions. When there was no judgment of the others he could act in an assertive way without getting agitated or disrespectful towards the others. The inner dialogue of s/he should …s/he should not, got over. The acceptance resulted in patience. Now he returns home in a calm state of mind. It doesn’t stop him from doing the right or correcting his co-workers. Patience has simply helped him not bringing the emotions of frustration and anger. So when there isn’t any frustration so there isn’t any tolerance and as a result there is no fear of losing the cool and one is relatively relaxed.
In the same way, we transfer this theory of tolerance in our children also. We tell them to avoid bullies, to go and report the matter to the teacher etc etc. we see our child suffering but we think that s/he is learning to be patient and adjust. Sometimes we try to silent our children and expect them to remain silent. Efforts should be made towards helping our children to respond to the negative act and not be trapped in judging or tricks of controlling their classmate.
First step is to practice patience which comes with acceptance and releasing the burden caused due to tolerance. Patience is not about how long one has waited or how heavy the load one is carrying. When there is simple acceptance to the situation or people around us then these comparative words such as ‘long’, ‘wait’ or ‘heavy load’ wouldn’t arise. Patience is about acceptance without any judgment or without any need to control the situation or people around us.