DBT Golden Nugget: But I Can't Wait!

I've noticed something about myself that gets me in trouble from time to time: I don't have much patience.  It's very difficult for me to sit with waiting for something when the outcome is unknown, or, more precisely, when it is not guaranteed to go in my favor.

I like things to be resolved, answered, and completed pretty much right then and there.  Unfortunately, I've also learned that most people don't work this way, this expectation sets up more opportunities for errors, and once the issue is resolved, I only experience peace for a short amount of time.  I'm quickly then aware of something else that I want resolved right away.

I'm currently dealing with a number of important, intense, and stressful life issues that are not being resolved on my timeline.  It's frustrating, to say the least.

One of the skills that can help when we feel this way is the DBT skill of Radical Acceptance.  When we radically accept something, we see the situation as "it is what it is."  We accept that we have to wait.  We accept that we don't like waiting.  We accept that despite not liking the wait, we still must wait.

A good example of using Radical Acceptance is when you don't like how the weather is on a particular day.  Perhaps you prefer bright skies and sunny warm weather, but instead, Mother Nature has decided that today will be a cold, wet day with skies so dark that it seems like 24 hours of night.

What are your options for coping with any distress you may feel as a result of today's weather?

You could:

  • Complain about how lousy the weather is
  • Wish the weather were different
  • Radically accept that the weather is like this today
  • Radically accept that you perceive the weather as unpleasant, but it is what it is for now
  • Use Wise Mind to acknowledge that this too shall pass -- nothing is permanent, not even the weather

Which approaches do you think will be most effective in coping with your distress?  How can you apply this approach to other areas of your life that are uncomfortable, such as waiting anxiously for a result or answer?

I'll contemplate these answers with you.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.


  1. Great post as always, Debbie!

    This post reminds me of last Friday being stuck in construction. Right now they are repaving the only road that gets me to the interstate as I head to work. I was stuck there for quite a bit of time. Yes, I was getting a little impatient and a tad frustrated. Like, why would they being doing it during the busiest time of the day?

    Well, I totally rethought my response and thought about the nice smooth road to drive on when they are finished. I had plenty of time so this is not going to effect me. I won’t be late for work. Plus, it won’t be long and they will be done.

    So, I relaxed, listened to the radio, and thought about something else. I was pretty proud of myself. Yes, usually my fangs are showing when having to wait for anything while driving. I am a safe but aggressive driver. However, that is changing as I go down the road of recovery.

  2. I am terrible at waiting, in saying that though i am more patient with some things than others than i used to be.
    On Sunday my partner and i went to pick up some pallets to make a path in our garden, we got them from my Sister's work. When we got to her work there were some people there picking some stuff up, i immediately got annoyed cos i didn't know how long they were going to be there. I didn't want to wait what i thought could be a very long time. I started complaining in a child like voice and my partner said "there's no need to get like this and if you don't stop it we'll just go home without what we came for" ... This kind of shocked me but it was what i needed to get me out of that mind set.
    For a start i didn't realise i was acting like a little kid. I then had to tell myself to just wait and it will be over when it's over. I probably could have been more skillful but i think the little skills i did use helped some.
    Thanks for this great post Debbie.

  3. OMG! We are so alike its sick! I am the most impatient person on the face of this planet. Not only do I want it now but I want it my way too! Because of course there is no other way then my way, duh! LOL! :-) As far as Radical Acceptance goes... I struggle with it as well. For me its hard to admit that everything that has happened in my life whether I had control of it of not has lead me to this point, this exact moment. I think for me its the control part, I NEED to be in control. To radically accept something I have to give up control and that is not easy for me at all. The weather is a great example. We must just sit back, take deep breaths and radically accept that it is beyond our control. Rain or shine; it will be what it will be. And as always its so much easier said then done, right? :-)



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