If you categorize yourself as impatient, you are probably a fast-paced person who wants to get things done, make things happen, beat others to the punch. It’s quite obvious that this behavior is opposite of being calm, patient, and relaxed. While there are benefits to being fast-paced, like most behaviors, we have to pick the right situation.
The problem with being impatient is usually because it’s during a time when you need to be patient - when you’re clicking through the computer too fast, interrupting or shutting someone down while they are talking, rushing through a report at work, or aggressively accelerating past the slow driver. What typically happens is negative, and ironically ends up taking more of your time in the long run. Whether the computer jams, the person you interrupt doesn’t respect you (causing the ripple effect of not feeling very motivated around you), the report has to be done over (causing the ripple effect of it being late for a customer), or you get in a fender bender because of your acceleration - there is usually collateral damage. Not to mention the ill effects it is having on your health and relationships.
So what can you do to practice patience during those times you really need to be patient? My 4 year old grandson Sullivan was very impatient one day, as he was very eager to go fishing but we had a few things we had to do first. He was starting to whine and act out. We talked about what it would look like if he were patient. He said he would be waiting. And I said what would it feel like? He said “I’d be happy.” Sully came up with a pretty good definition of patience: “Wait, and be happy.”
Keeping that definition in mind, consider these steps to patience:
Pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs. What is it that is making you feel rushed? Often it’s just a belief that there’s not enough time, and we’re playing it over and over in our heads, making ourselves impatient.
Identify what your impatience might cause - what is the potential collateral damage, as we showed in the examples above.
Replace the impatient thought with the opposite of the collateral damage. For example, If I take the time, my computer won’t jam; or Joe will respect me and feel more motivated around me; or I want to stay alive, and healthy so I’ll drive safe.
Take deep breaths, relax all of your muscles, and say “I have plenty of time” and follow it up with that new thought in #2.
Practice being patient in every-day situations, and choose to be happy while you’re doing it - such as driving in heavy traffic, waiting while your PC is slow, and being present and listening while someone is talking.
Share with us what you do to keep yourself patient (waiting and happy) in the comments below!