Patience, A Form Of Action I Tend To Forget
That’s what I used to think.
As I grew up, I was told to have patience, but I never knew why. I hesitantly let patience in and try to hurry it out. In that hurry, I tripped and fell, literally and figuratively. From all the tripping and falling, I come to realise that patience is here to guide me.
Patience always comes with wisdom. Unfortunately, I was so consumed with impatience that I was deaf to what it has to share. I thought I was kept away from what matters and that I was wasting time. It held me against my will as I tried to figure out shortcuts to where I was going before it tripped me.
Now I know that patience is wiser than that. Patience offers the opportunity to refocus the blur I created for myself when I hurried. It’s the necessary silence I looked for when I was drowning in my inner voice. It’s the rest, so I may look different ways and seek different options. It’s the reminder to take a deep breath and be back in the present.
I’m Not The Only One
We live in a world where we can instantaneously access information and order what we want, and this makes patience getting harder to come by. “I want what I want, and I want it now!” We might not say it, but we do think it. This is pushing patience away and pulling impatience into our lives. In many cases, we get used to getting what we want on the same day. Instant gratification has become the norm of our fast-paced society and slowly our culture.
The problem is that while some things have become quicker to acquire in life, there are plenty of great things that requires time in life. Moreover, patience is required. I want to remind us that life just doesn’t run on a set schedule.
Patience Is A Skill You Can Learn
Patience is the ability to tolerate waiting, frustration, or delay without getting agitated or upset. It’s being able to control our emotions, proceed calmly when faced with an unpleasant situation, and live life at the speed at which it actually happens. This is a challenge for most of us since impatience is always nagging at the impossible.
Think about the process we endure when feeling impatient: when we’re stuck in traffic and furious that it’s not moving faster; when we’re at work listening to a lame presentation fussing about when it’s over; when we’re told a train is delayed we get annoyed with having to wait around.
These reactions distance us from facing our current reality and force us to focus on our impossible expectations of how things should be. All the fussing and worrying about our current reality does nothing to improve or change it and only makes us suffer more than others.
Dr. Lillian Nejad, a psychologist based in Melbourne, pointed out that we aren’t born with patience, hence the crying and screaming when hungry.
Patience is a skill that can be learned with time. To strengthen it requires practice, and this can be done through managing your impatient physical responses, thoughts and behaviours.
“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” — Chinese proverb
How To Manage Impatience
“Ascertain the frequency of your impatient experiences by making a note of every time you feel frustrated. This information helps you understand your level of impatience and the specific situations in which you are most vulnerable,” Dr. Lillian Nejad said.
Then, it’s necessary to make a conscious decision to be patient in those situations. By making changes on how we respond, we can modify our thoughts and behaviours associated with them. Here are some great examples given by Dr. Lillian Nejad:
- For physical responses: If you tend to clench your hands, notice this response and then purposefully unclench them; if you feel tightness in your chest, take a deep breath; if you frown, try to smile. These physical actions are very effective at reducing levels of anger and frustration.
- For thoughts: Say to yourself, “It’s fine,” or “It’s not the end of the world if this takes longer,” or “I can cope with this.”
- For behaviours: Choose to behave opposite to how you would normally behave. For instance, instead of yelling or rolling your eyes, be polite and warm to the person who is causing you delay.
Challenge yourself by putting yourself more often in these situations on purpose.
Benefits Of Developing Patience
1. Helps to achieve our goals
The road to achievement is a long one. Those without patience, who want to see results immediately, may not be willing to walk it. A study in 2012 has been done by Fuller Theological Seminary professor Sarah A. Schnitker and UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, to examine whether patience helps students get things done. According to Schnitker’s analysis, patient people exerted more effort towards their goals. Especially those with interpersonal patience made more progress toward their goals and were more satisfied when they achieved them.
Important note: I’ve read blogs and articles saying that being patience is associated with being lazy, simply because patience is perceived as waiting. And waiting won’t get you to achieve anything. There is a thin line between patient and laziness, but here is what I believe is the difference. The universal measurement that can be used to whether you’re patient or lazy is the result you’ll be able to deliver. So, irrelevant to how you want to define patient or lazy, the result you’re able to deliver is what matters.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter, so let me know by commenting at the end.
2. Acquire positive attitude and enjoy better mental health
As mentioned earlier, impatience is always nagging at the impossible. If things aren’t going the way you want them to, instead of getting frustrated, you must learn to be patient. You’ll realise that you need to see it from a different angle, develop the ability to re-frame situations and see its positive side.
Consequently, you’ll tend to experience less depression and negative emotions, because you can cope better with upsetting or stressful situations. Anger and stress are enough to ruin one’s health. Patience enables you to overcome challenging situation with more flexibility and in a better well thought way.
3. Transform relationships
We’ve all been there. In our relationships, we sometimes become defensive, say something hurtful and wish we could take it back. In these moments, we don’t realise the importance of patience and end up making hasty decisions. This is the moment to consciously decide to be patient and try to take time to think over another person’s positive qualities.
The next time you lose your patience over a person, just take a moment to stop and think — is losing my patience right now and fighting with the person in front of me worth the time? Is it worth the hurt and pain that we are both going to inflict upon each other in the process? Have I tried hard enough and am I really at the end of my patience? Most of the time, we let our lack of patience get the better of us, and in the process, lose a person who was much more dear to us than the issue over which we lost our patience. Hurts like hell, believe me.
Everything Will Come Together
Patience is a valuable character trait to develop. It may appear to be passive, however, it’s an active, focused and necessary form of self-discipline. Without patience many of our actions would be counter-productive and certainly much time and energy would be wasted on keeping the wheel going.
Surely, patience is a virtue.
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