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How Well Do You Play the Waiting Game? 5 Tips You Can Use to Stay Positive While Waiting

By Becki Cohn-Vargas June 23, 2021 Mindset

Do you remember a time when you were waiting by the phone for a special someone to call? It was excruciating and endless, bringing with it a roller coaster of feelings.

Now in our 60s, we find ourselves waiting again, for the doctor to call. It is no less terrifying.

I am waiting as I write this, so I am momentarily quite an expert on the topic. As expert as anyone can be when our very lives hang in the balance. I came up with a few thoughts, not really tips, but just ideas of how to make it less agonizing.

Unlike waiting for that “someone” to call, waiting for your health report is a multi-leveled experience. First comes the blood test or the pains that tell you something is not quite right. You wait for the appointment – which results in some kind of test like a CT scan.

Then you wait for the results and it happens to be a holiday weekend. More waiting. And then the results indicate that you need a biopsy.

You wait for the biopsy and then wait again for the biopsy results. By now, you might be pretty upset. This process could take well over a month.

So, it is worth thinking about what can be done to make the waiting palatable. It is also important to figure out how to keep living while you are waiting. What – Me, Worry? Really?

Alfred E. Newman, the mischievous kid of Mad Magazine fame maybe could do it, but not me. However, a wise counsel I received as a teen in distress was “try not to worry unless you are sure you have something to worry about.”

That means, speculating and worrying about an auspicious outcome is a waste if it turns out the biopsy shows nothing. And what have you gained, but misery? If your worst fear comes true, you have lost nothing by staying neutral and making the effort not to worry too much.

Feeling It

That said, while not worrying may be your intention, you will most likely feel a roller coaster of emotions. I like to write in my journal to get those feelings out. And uncovering my worst fears to a dear friend helps a lot.

There are plenty of teary songs to listen to as you let yourself cry into your beer (or tea). I usually feel better after a good cry. Letting the emotions out helps just as a rainstorm that clears the air. Knowing it is a roller coaster, you will be able to start the journey back up again, even while you are waiting.

Whistle While You Wait: Keep Busy

There are always things that can be done to keep your mind occupied. I took up a small project – planting flowers in pots on my deck.

It was something I could do when I was not up to digging in the garden. I planted seeds, bought a few zinnia plants, and one beautiful hanging pot with fuchsia “million bells” (calibrachoa).

Choose Who to Tell and When

I am not a super-private person; however, I only opt to reveal the situation to a couple of selected people while I am waiting. Otherwise, the flurry of daily texts and emails of concern can be overwhelming and might even launch new roller coaster rides.

Just enough support during the waiting period is all I want or need. Later, I have no problem informing others, including you, dear readers.


Hope is a healing state of mind. It is a refreshing spring that reminds us to stay open to life and that anything might happen. I am not speaking of false hopes.

Also, becoming too optimistic could mean a longer way to fall if the outcome is not what you are hoping for. However, remaining hopeful and positive can be healing.

And healing is not always a physical state. Even when the news is not so great, you can seek to transcend the moment to something greater, allowing you to handle even the tough stuff with grace.

What are you waiting for right now? How are you waiting for it? Do you have any tips that can make the waiting easier to bear? Please share them below!

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The Author

Becki Cohn-Vargas, Ed.D, has been blogging regularly for Sixty and Me since 2015. She is a retired educator and independent consultant. She's the co-author of three books on identity safe schools where students of all backgrounds flourish. Becki and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have three adult children and one grandchild. You can connect with her at the links below.

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