I want to be a patient man, I really do. It’s the one part of my personality that I most want to change. I’m not perfect by any means; (very) far from it. But I feel like my impatience is the trait that is least attractive and the most likely to hamper my life in the long run.
In modern society, things are available at the push of a button. We don’t have to wait for anything, and if we do, we cancel it, and get it somewhere else. This is completely awesome of course, but it’s having a gradual effect on society – we are becoming less and less patient.
It’s almost as if waiting is physically painful for us. Just one more second and we will burst.
I decided I would have a brief search across cyber space to see what other people were saying. I wanted to find out if there were any tips and tricks I could try.
So if you are struggling with patience, take a stroll with me:
Be Aware Of Why You Are Being Impatient
Part of the reason we all get more impatient these days is that there are a myriad of things on our minds at any one time. We have a constant list in our heads of things that need to get done. Anything that gets in the way of this list – traffic, queueing, a pensioner walking slowly – infuriates us to huge degree.
This is because there is a certain amount of inherent stress in remembering all of the things we are tasked with each day. Part of our impatient anger comes from the fear that we will forget what we have to do.
With this in mind, we should write a list each day. Then, rather than our unconscious brain panicking about whether it can retain the details or not, we can simply refer to the list. The underlying stress is diminished and waiting isn’t so bad.
In the long run, if you think about your impatience and realise that it is to do with being too busy, consider cutting your daily tasks down. I think we could all do with reducing our commitments a little bit.
Learn The Difference Between Uncomfortable And Intolerable
In the Western world we are lucky enough that, for most of the time, we can be comfortable. Some people get so used to being comfortable constantly, that if they are not comfortable, they get upset.
In reality, discomfort is a part of life. We need to learn that discomfort is simply a little unpleasant whereas intolerable is something we need to change. The latter is an experience we rarely come across, and we should recognise that.
Next time we are waiting for a bus for longer than we wanted to, we should remember that we’re uncomfortable – but we’re not likely to die from it. In fact, without discomfort it is impossible to enjoy comfort. Think of that as your impatience begins to show its face.
Practice Makes Perfect
This sounds at first glance like an awful idea, but stick with it. Recent research suggests that waiting for a reward makes the reward more pleasurable. To test this out, start making yourself wait for things.
Don’t allow yourself to watch your favourite TV program until the weekend. Make yourself wait another 20 minutes to eat that slice of cake.
It seems rather petty, but in the long run you’re building up your ability to cope with waiting, and you’re making patience a normal expectation.
Good ‘ol Deep Breathing
The timeless classic – deep breathing. In moments of stress, where we think we are going to blow up unnecessarily, let’s focus on our breathing. Slowly in, slowly out.
This isn’t about connecting with your inner chi, or aligning your chakras – it’s about physiologically calming yourself. Breathing slowly feels calming, so your brain calms down. Simple as that.
And if you focus on breathing, it takes your mind off your rage for a moment.
Keep Tabs On Your Impatience
Because impatience can flare up at seemingly random times, it’s often difficult to draw patterns. To make this easier, try writing down every time you lose your rag.
After a few weeks (or a few days, depending on how regularly you blow up), you will hopefully see a pattern forming. If you notice that it happens particularly at certain points in the day, or during certain tasks, it will give you an insight and hopefully a better understanding.
Let It Go
Yes, I know, “let it go” is a lot easier to write down than it is to actually do. It’s not impossible though. It’s trickier for impatience related to bigger, more serious things – like waiting to hear back about a job interview, or a medical diagnosis.
However, if you have impatient flare ups about small things (like me) – perhaps you can’t unravel a wire, undo a knot or unlock a door and the impatient rage rises in you – this technique can actually be helpful.
As your blood begins to boil – beat it down. Remind yourself that nothing bad is actually happening. No one will die. Let it go. It doesn’t matter. Say to yourself “come on, nothing bad is happening here.” As you attempt to unpick the seemingly knot of wires, be mindful. It’s not life-threatening.
Accept The Unexpected
Sometimes, impatience can be born from having our plans changed, sometimes only slightly. It’s important to remind ourselves that things will always change; we can’t have it exactly as we want all of the time.
We need to remember that life is a strange, wriggling worm of a thing that we can’t control or ride. We just need to watch how it moves and try not to fall off.