How To Stop Playing The “Waiting Game”

Stephen Hussey

(Photo: Derecke Sanches)

I’ve always hated waiting for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

I was recently listening to a podcast with the film director Kevin Smith, who had to deal with his own dreaded scenario of ‘playing the waiting game’.

He was talking about the moment when he had just handed in the script for his new movie Clerks 3, and was waiting for the studio executives to give him the green light and financially back him to make the film.

It’s that ‘on-hold’ period of utter torment, like those excruciating weeks when you sit around waiting for college application results. You peek at every letter that plops through the mailbox with your hands shaking, knowing that it’s either Acceptance or Rejection.

I’ve had that feeling many times in my life. Whether it was waiting for funding, scholarship results, job offers, college acceptances, publisher approval, or even just judgment from someone whose opinion I respected.

The worst part about it is the feeling that you’ve lost control over your destiny. You feel like your future is in someone else’s hands: they can either let you march on your merry way and pat you on the bum as you ascend the ladder of success, or they can pull it out from under you.

You just don’t know if all your hard work is going to pay off, and one thing is for sure: you won’t feel truly relaxed until you know the outcome.

So what do you usually do instead?

You watch movies to distract yourself, hoping that the troubles beguiling the Planet of the Apes will make your own seem more manageable by comparison. “Well shit me..” you think, “at least I’m not stuck in a barren post-apocalyptic energy-starved Earth trying to establish diplomatic relations with a bunch of damn dirty apes! My problems aren’t so bad”.

You bore friends endlessly about your stress and your fretting, hoping for reassurance that it will all work out. You even bring your family into your world of unease and anxiety. You feel stunted, drained of useful energy.

You just need to hear something before you can get on with your life. Until then, you’re stuck in stasis.

The Art of Productive Fretting

So how did Kevin Smith pull himself out of that place?

His answer was simple: He just got working on HIS NEXT movie.

After a day of moping and worrying and trying to take his mind off the upcoming phone call, he went ahead and BLAZED through his next film script (which has now been made and released this year).

The result was a miracle. He had a new movie to be excited about within less than a week and had much less worry over the project he was waiting to hear back from.

I love this revelation. Because it applies to so many areas of life when you feel controlled by others. I call it “Productive Fretting”.

Think about those moments your love life leaves you waiting in limbo:

· How many times do you get stuck waiting for some guy to make a decision, or to tell you where you stand in his affections?

· How often do you sit hoping he’s going to ask for a second date?

· How many days have you let slip by wanting him to realise that you’re there for him when he’s ready?

· How often do you hold off on making plans as you just hope that guy will text you asking you what you’re up to this weekend/evening?

Well, no longer.

From now on, whenever you feel like someone has control over your destiny and your placed in the recipient ‘waiter’ role, act like you have something better to be doing. Start doing something that will lead to an even better opportunity than the one you’re waiting on right now.

Date other guys. Get wrapped up in a cause, something that’s bigger than your own petty problems. Sign up and commit yourself to an improving activity, or do a Kevin Smith and sit down and start writing your next big project. Do anything that gives you a sense that you OWN your destiny.

This gives your POWER and CONTROL back when you need it. And when you have these things, you have confidence. You won’t feel like your self-esteem boils down to a single ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that lies in the hands of someone else.

Always act as if you have better things to do than fret and concern yourself with a decision you’re hoping someone else will make. You might just find it turns out to be true.

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54 Replies to “How To Stop Playing The “Waiting Game””

  • I’m all mixed up. The article and some of the responses were uplifting. Yet Im saddened to read that many of us feel bad for not being contacted or never seeing that guy we found interesting, attractive, etc.

    I wonder if guys also have a forum where they express their disappointment for being rejected, romantically speaking. A forum where they also comment on the times they had to wait to be called, texted, and so on and it never happened.

    Maybe I’m a little tired of basically never being the cup of tea of the guys a like. It’s tiring knowing that or believing it.

  • I love this. I mean, I think it can be really hard, especially when what you want to accomplish requires working use of your brain but it’s completely taken up with what you’re fretting about. It takes practice, and doesn’t always result in great success. But even if you’re not slaying dragons with your diverted resources, it’s still worthwhile just to be diverting them! And just doing *something* makes you feel like a useful human much more than doing nothing but fretting does–which tends to lead to its own positive side effects.

    I once heard a quote that has stuck with me from a jazz festival colloquium I attended (about institutionalized oppression, I think, but we could extrapolate!), attributed to Duke Ellington about what he did when things weren’t going his way: “I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”

  • I am exactly at this point. It’s so good to know that we have a way out of this. Still need your suggestion as I am confused a bit…you see… I am desperately waiting for the man i am currently dating to ask me out again but he just doesn’t do it. And I don’t want to ask him out because that will make me look too needy. Sometimes I feel he has lost interest in me. However I must mention that he is in the military so I understand that he is busy but waiting for just a text from him frustrates me sometime. Am I reading too much into it or am I just being played with. Please help.

    “Productive Fretting” Sooo,simple and VERY EFFECTIVE!!!

  • Right on point as usual. This is a good reminder as I’ve been waiting on some new work contracts and this message has Come at the right time thank you

  • Thanks for this!! Is funny because while I was reading this I just started laughing caused I saw myself in it . Waiting and waiting but not anymore. Glad to realize that I’m not the only one going though this.

  • This guy I was dating, our souls connected and with him every problem was none existent, I felt safe, I felt like we already knew each other and I just found him again. But these weren’t things I said. But he constantly reminded me that I was right, that I made him feel loved, needed, appreciated. We haven’t dated very long but this is someone I want to settle with and so does he. We really need each other and that’s how it’s felt everything he was around and when he was gone my soul felt like sort of it was missing. I’ve dated many guys, got my heart broken before but I never had this feeling for anyone. Now he left and he told me he has a lot on his plate and he doesn’t want let me down but he needs he is to take things slow. Then he went on to reminding me it’s not me it’s the fact that he just got out of a violent and controlling relationship. So I agreed to give him time. But he hasn’t been really communicating, and it’s hurting it’s been 2 nights now where he hasn’t said anything. I’m hurting over this, I never expected to be, but I also never expected to get that connection. He assured me that it’s not me. But I’m scared of losing this person. He makes everything better. He has a huge heart, he’s caring, he’s just right and I can’t stop crying. I just want to know how much time I should really give him. I tried doing other things and stop texting him. But I seem to can’t be able to move on. The little memories I have is riding my mind. My heart feels burdened now that he’s not here sleeping by me. Or just telling me how much I’m worth and that he’s lucking. I love this man and it’s hard to explain but I don’t want to loose him. I pray that he comes around and we make it happen. Everyone else I meet. They aren’t him and I don’t want anyone else.i really need help. I really need him to come home. Where he is, id rather be.

  • Love this Steve. It’s so true so thanks for reminding me. It also reminded me what Eckhart Tolle (?) teaches us “Be here now”.

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