Learn Fiddling–Learn Patience
Patience: the capacity to tolerate difficulty without getting frustrated.
“Patience, hard thing! The hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is!” Gerard Manley Hopkins
In our material world, the virtue of patience has taken a real beating. And we fiddlers, we musicians, need it more than ever. There are cringe worthy examples of impatience in the news daily. Sometimes, it can make you wonder where the world is going.
We get so focused on ourselves and rushing to meet all the involvements we have that we get impatient with anything or anyone who slows us down. All you have to do to verify this is take a short drive in your car. Swerving through traffic, cutting other cars off, texting while driving…you’ve seen this, haven’t you?.
Though patience has taken a beating, it isn’t dead. We can revive it! First, we need to understand that it is a mind set that we have to develop–it doesn’t just happen and it isn’t innate. If someone is very patient, it’s because they have taken the time to develop patience, probably after they saw the chaos that impatience leaves in our lives.
But how do we start? And really, why should we care? It’s a dog eat dog world, and you may be worried that if you develop patience, you will become a doormat for the world. But that’s not what patience is all about. And we should care because it directly relates to our wellbeing. How can we be patient with people who press every button we have? And, how can we learn to be more patient with ourselves?
Practicing Patience with Yourself
Impatient people aren’t just impatient with others. They are also hard on themselves, demanding they do things perfectly and quickly, learn to play fiddle tunes in no time at all. This causes stress on you and those around you. If you have decided that you want to become more patient, the first thing that’s necessary is to understand that it will take practice. The best time to practice patience is while you practice fiddling.
This is ironic because impatience is caused by having to wait for delayed gratification. But remember, building your patience muscle is just like building physical ones–you have to keep practicing to build the skills you want. However, the time and effort spent is definitely worth it! You’ll be happier, healthier and more relaxed so that you enjoy life more. Here are some important steps to take to begin practicing patience with yourself.
Learn your triggers--Before you can make any change, you have to recognize the behavior or thoughts that trigger the impulse. Suppose you observe that whenever you make a mistake, it causes you to completely invalidate your work. That’s a trigger. You always lose your patience with yourself because of some small mistake while you are fiddling. You can start doing something about that emotional feeling of self criticism.
It’s a good idea to keep a record of the triggers throughout the day. Anything you want to control should be recorded, quantified. Keeping a record is helpful because it allows you to recognize patterns of behavior.
It’s also a great help to be able to look back to see how far you’ve come. If you start to wonder if all this practice is getting you anywhere, you can look back at your successes to regain your confidence in your ability to become more patient.
Learn the physical symptoms–Everyone is different, but when frustration starts to build, we each have physical signs. You may notice your stomach knotting up or your hands tensing up and not moving as freely. You might feel your heartbeat go up and your shoulder muscles tighten. Recognizing these symptoms, along with your personal triggers, can make it easier to “catch yourself” losing your patience before you blow your top. It’s easier to stop the cycle of impatience earlier on than when you are already deep into frustration behavior, like punching something or yelling.
Start small–Once you’ve gotten a list of your impatience triggers, choose one to begin working with. Pick one that is a small thing. Remember you are just starting to use your patience muscle, and it’s going to be easier to be successful by working on one small thing first, to build up your confidence. Just like you can’t bench press 300 pounds the first time you lift weights, you need to start with small triggers in the beginning.
Breathe–When you start feeling the physical sensations of becoming impatient, pause and consciously breathe slowly and deeply. When we become frustrated, we breathe shallowly and quickly, which causes a stress reaction in the body. This is a vicious cycle that causes the frustration to build up until we explode. Breathing slowly and deeply just a few times will naturally help calm your reaction to the situation.
Learning to play a musical instrument, especially violin and fiddle requires patience. Why not resolve to cultivate the virtue of patience along with the fiddle tune you are making your priority to learn?