The Patience Trap

Two weeks ago I caught my tire on the trolley tracks and had a quick meeting with streets of Philadelphia. My first thought upon going down was “Oh no, this isn’t happening”. I’d only been biking to and from appointments for a couple of weeks, having done the research on how to lock up my bike and thinking about which route is best, cautiously slipping between cars and actually stopping at stop signs. Despite my best efforts, I fell. When walking back to the gym with a scraped up nose and sprained wrists it didn’t occur to me that I might actually learn more than to not try and duel with the trolley tracks.

Choosing Patience

I ended up having a scraped up nose and two mildly (self-diagnosed) sprained wrists. I was out of work for two days and wasn’t able to workout for a week and a half and I was so pissed at myself. Not being able to live life the way I want is usually an issue with me (recovering Control Freak here) and my practice of patience doesn’t come easily. Being forced into patience is one way to gain it, but not necessarily the easiest and I’d argue that it’s a highly misconstrued form. Nevertheless, “choosing” to not go to the gym and rest my wrist (say that 5x fast!) wasn’t an easy one and I was left questioning if I’d be able to do some things at the gym. I’d grapple with the decision of going to the gym, feeling like there was no winning in any outcome. In the end I did decide to be patient with my body, take time off from the gym completely and choose movement in other formats. Ironically, I chose to bike more.

The Patience Trap

Be careful though – there is a moment when patience turns to complacency and if you don’t look out for it, you’ll miss it. At the end of last week it was simply easier to stay away from the gym than to push through feelings and make an attempt at lifting. On one hand, I wanted to lift to see where I stood up to my pre-sprained wrist self, but on the other hand I was using patience to mask my fear (and, to be honest, the work that goes into *shakes head* working out). This is when I’ve fallen into the Patience Trap. I’m using “patience” as an excuse to continue the status quo.

When I finally made it back to the gym I performed most of my programming and left out the movement that caused pain. I was pushing a little bit, but still pulling out that Patience Card when it’s necessary.

Knowing when patience turns to complacency isn’t always clear and there’s no way to really know the perfect time to make the switch. Truthfully, though, it doesn’t matter if you’re right. What matters is that in the short term you realize the Patience Trap can happen, learn to look for it and choose to propel yourself forward when you see it happening.

We see this in so many situations in life – work, relationships, boiling noodles, etc. In the beginning we tell ourselves that “we are being patient” and hoping that x, y, or z changes, knowing full well that we have no control over something other than ourselves. We initially choose patience because that’s all we can choose, hoping that we can ride out the situation. Some of the time the situation changes, but the other times, it doesn’t. We hold on to hope that our patience will last longer than the said undesirable situation. It’s at some point during this time when we begin accepting the status quo. Usually it’s accompanied by complaining and the feeling of dread.


I’m not here to rag on having patience – remember, it’s a virtue. Waiting too long, however, changes you from being patient to being passive. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to help identify if you’re in the Patience Trap:

  1. Is your current situation holding you back from taking action on your goals?
  2. Are you waiting for someone else to take action to make your current situation better?
  3. Will moving forward beget more choices?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions it’s time to re-evaluate where you are and where you want to be and make a change accordingly. This exercise isn’t for you to reply with “I don’t know” because that’s the easy way out. Really look at your situation and be honest with yourself. I realize my falling-off-my-bike story turned into somewhat of a serious topic – complacency and passiveness. In all honesty, it was at this moment last week when I was in the Patience Trap and took a detour to lazy town, so there’s no too-small situation when we can do a check-in to see if we’re moving forward and if we’re not, then there needs to be a great reason.




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