When You Want to Learn Patience…But You Want to Learn it RIGHT FREAKING NOW!
We all get impatient from time to time.
Whether it’s a traffic jam and you’re already running late, or you get upset with your kids for taking too long to get ready for school.
Patience is a skill that is a challenge to learn, if you don’t already have the skills built in you. Some people are taught patience from a young age but many people have never been able to figure out how to practice it.
IMPATIENCE can be stressful to others and it can be contagious.
Patience is not simply the ability to wait — it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. Joyce Meyer
Imagine yourself sitting in the passenger seat with an impatient road-rager. You come up behind a slow moving vehicle and the driver beats on his horn, flashes his lights and yells obscenities through the windshield. “Get the hell out of my way! Learn to drive! “F**king idiot!”
How does that make you feel, as the shotgun rider?
Myself, I feel agitated, uncomfortable and scared that the driver will do something risky, out of his impatience. Maybe he will try and pass the slow vehicle on the wrong side, or maybe he will rear end the lead vehicle if his brakes come on. This, in turn, makes me feel impatient and stressed out.
So, how can we learn to be patient? Here are some tips to help you create a more patient outlook:
- Breathe! This should come easy, as we all NEED to breathe to survive. But taking deep relaxing breaths can help to slow your heart down and keep it from pounding through your chest. While your heart races, you require more oxygen and you become more stressed and impatient. Your body feeds on itself in stressful, impatient situations, causing you to feel anger and frustration. As these feelings increase, so does your pulse. You perspire and your inner demon emerges. TAKE SOME DEEP CLEANSING BREATHS
- Count to ten- As you take deep breaths, try to count to 10. If you are still feeling the effects of impatience, count backward. This is effective for children who become impatient. It helps to take their mind off of a stressful situation and to focus on something else. When my daughter was young, I recall her getting very angry while learning to tie her shoes. So angry, one morning, that out of her impatience, she threw a shoe at me. (Inadvertently) Instead of becoming impatient with her and allowing her mood to affect mine, I sat on the floor with her, held out her left sneaker and took a deep breath (for my own patience). I gently, calmly said, “Okay honey, let’s try this again. But, this time we are going to count to ten”. Be damned if it didn’t work. By the time she had her shoe on and tied, her focus was changed and she succeeded. (Yay!)
- Take a Virtual Step Back- Sometimes this can mean taking a physical, literal step back. Once you have taken a deep cleansing breath, counted to ten, stop and look at the situation through a more distant glance. If you are in your vehicle and becoming pissed at the traffic, imagine yourself taking a step back to RE-ASSESS the situation. Maybe there’s a different route you can take. Perhaps all it takes is changing your radio station or the temperature in your car. Maybe you haven’t eaten today and are more HANGRY than Impatient. Once you are able to allow yourself to take a step back to look at the situation through a different lens, it becomes easier to handle a situation.
- Assess what you can control- Let go of the rest- THIS is the most important lesson for practicing patience. In most situations or conflicts, where your impatient self comes out to play, it is because of situations that are out of your control. You CAN’T drive another person’s vehicle. You CAN’T make the vehicles move in a traffic jam, and you CAN’T make your kids or spouse get ready to get out of the house faster. The best thing you can do for yourself and for those around you is to just LET GO OF CONTROL. If there is a way to make things glide along more smoothly, you can determine it typically by taking a step back and re-assessing. But, if you cannot control the situation, you need to learn to recognize it. Once you can let go of the need and desire to control the situation, you are giving yourself permission to have patience. Perhaps your Hangriness is the reason you are so impatient. Grab a quick snack. Or, maybe there is an accident under the bridge ahead of you, and you cannot move in the traffic jam. Lean back in your seat, listen to the radio or your favorite play list and remind yourself “I have no control over this situation. I will make the best of it”.
I live with someone who has ZERO patience. When we get ready to go out, his habit is to get into his truck, start it and wait for me in the driveway, usually while he waits, he fidgets and texts me “ready yet?” as he slowly starts to get to boiling point. I have learned, over time, to deal with this differently, rather than allow his impatience to become contagious and stress me out. I TAKE MY DAMN TIME.
I tell myself that he is damn lucky to have me to wait for. I am a freaking delight! Would he rather have a woman who loves and cares for him, and who cares about looking her best, to WAIT FOR? Or would he rather have the alternative of being alone, not having me in his life? THESE are things he can control.
In traffic, I am not always perfect, but I strive to be a kind, cautious driver. I love to go fast, BUT I also allow people to move in front of me off of ramps, and I don’t touch my horn unless it appears that someone is in danger, or has been distracted and is in my way. (Very rarely). With colleagues and friends, I strive to be the most patient person I can, because it helps to keep relationships at ease. Patience builds mutual trust and understanding. Making demands and treating people aggressively because of my own NEEDS is not going to help relationships I cherish, to flourish. Instead, I will look like an impatient asshole who lives her life selfishly trying to control situations.
I choose to be patient and kind. I choose to relinquish control if it helps me to stay calm. I choose to model patience.
Life is too short to stress about having everything happen fast or come fast. You cannot make people cater to your impatience. Taking that step back and re-assessing what you ACTUALLY cannot control and why you need everything to go your way, is a huge step in learning patience, understanding and respect. These are all virtues that every human being should strive for.