“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”/steve
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I was completing my Master’s degree and working to become a counselor, I had a professor who gave us an assignment to look over a list of emotional responses we needed to work on in our own life.
I initially thought that alienating others or withholding deep feelings may be the route to take. I became antsy over the list and did not feel comfortable with either one of my initial choices. I keep telling myself I wish I could hurry up and make up my mind.
Then, it dawned on me why I was feeling so anxious about the choice. Did I have to catch a train? This made me contemplate the emotions and reactions I had during the choosing process and I began to wonder if what I really needed to work on was my impatience.
Events in my life at the time would suggest making anyone anxious but what about the effects of being impatient also have on the following:
• Loss of 40 years old family business and stress of supporting my family
•Ex-mother-in-law with a deepening loss of memory from Alzheimer’s
• Ex-wife struggling with alcohol addiction
•Going back to school at 50 years old and wondering if I could still learn
•Raising two teenage sons
Looking deeper into my struggle with impatience, I concluded that this issue had been mine longer than I thought. Yes, recent events had made me anxious, impatient for quick answers to difficult problems and generally on edge but there is more to it than that.
Looking back, I had for as long as I could remember, wanted quick answers, wanted instant equilibrium in life and generally despised dangling issues hanging around.
What made a second grade boy so nervous about division that I spent more time worrying about how others were doing (picking concepts of division much faster than me) than listening for cues from my teacher?
Why did a 5th grade boy become so impatient in wanting to be accepted I lingered in joining sports teams (that I loved to do) because I was afraid of failure? Why did I right out of high school need to get married? What makes a graduate of a major university (Michigan State) who majors in history/psychology and receives his teaching license go back to a family-owned business I loathed?
Was it because I was impatient in gaining monetary security rather than going out on my own and taking a risk, settling for being less than I knew I could be? I have been all along striving for relieving my impatience of being who I thought I needed to be but in the meantime, not taking the proper patient steps to get were I really want to go and be who I really am.
I am, as Jeremy Taylor once stated: “No one is poor who does not think they are, however, if in prosperity with impatience they desire more and proclaims their wants they disclose their beggarly condition.”
For an impatient person, nothing is more important than our issues being addressed without delay. I also have a tendency to anticipate the worst in a situation and if the situation was not addressed promptly, I projected blame away from me and to others.
Techniques of Self Preservation
Being impatient can also lead to using some other unpleasant techniques of self preservation: distorting feedback from others, denying the truth and taking things out of context.
On the external side, being impatient leads to inappropriate comments, acting before analyzing the right path to follow, arguing for the sake of arguing and worst of all, becoming so impatient as to lose context and meaning to a loving relationship.
The increased stress led me to follow with symptoms: high blood pressure, poor sleeping habits, negative thoughts, blaming others and reduction in exercise which led to being out of shape.
Living within the high level of stress, I began to isolate with depressive thoughts, internalize loneliness which allowed me to withdraw from friends. Ways of trying to pacify myself led to impulsive buying – a mechanism of filling immediate desires that could be selfish in nature.
By slowing down and being open and honest with my feelings, I concluded I needed to release the stimulus that I have no control over that stimulates the impatient response and find a way to defuse it and redirect my focus. Other areas that need to be worked on include:
• use of more forgiveness and grace towards myself and others
• find a central life balance of control
• become conscious of my impatience and learn skills to monitor and redirect behavior
• deal with the simple fact I do not need a instant response to every issue but rather find that time can be an ally versus always suggesting it is my enemy.
My replacement techniques needed to be ways of modifying my behavior to support my healthy life generating thoughts and behaviors. My four main circles around life generating behavior of patience were: (1) sleep better; (2) reduce stress; (3) form deeper relationships; and (4) have positive outlook towards life.
On the sleeping better came uplifting consequences such as more energy, more drive to improve life skills and improve my health.
The more rested I am, the more relaxed and self-control becomes easier, which leads to peace within. With an improved outlook towards life, I am more attuned to the positive aspects and adaptable to positive changes that can allow me to enjoy moments in life and create some tranquility.
Another important aspect is to give up what one cannot control or influence to a higher power. Learn to be able to deal with what you can control and allow the other aspects to be taken away through the use of spiritual tranquility.
It’s not to say not to be actively involved in creating solutions but rather than internalizing, remind oneself of all the external locus of control.
Reducing stress not only has physical benefits but psychological as well. Lastly, reducing the level of impatience lowers internal stress. Flowing out can be forgiveness, grace and simple joy towards not only others but myself.
Osman Abraham in an article entitled “How to Be More Patient & in Control of Your Life” at the Code of Living website suggests six life changing aspects of your life that can reduce impatience and allow you to be in more control of your life. The goal, Osman states, is to become a more patient, easy going person:
• Understand And Counteract Your Triggers
Impatience is something that is triggered. Once you understand what your trigger is, you can work on counteracting it by doing calming exercises or techniques whenever you feel the trigger building up
• Build Self-Confidence
Impatience usually appears when one feels let down, when you don’t feel in control or perhaps feel that your hands are tied. You want something to happen now, but you cannot seem to do anything to speed things up.
A person with a high level of confidence will accept the situation as it is; they will not fight it or rail against it. Rather, they will work with it. To become more patient, realize that patience and confidence go hand in hand.
• Put On Your “Positive” Glasses
Patience is all about perspective and how you look at situations. Try to put a positive spin on everything you do. You will find that you will not just reduce tension but you`ll become a much happier person.
• Change Your Attitude
Most people struggling with patience can never answer this question.
“Why are you in such a hurry?”
Realize the fact that even if something happens a few seconds or even minutes late, nothing will happen. The task will still get done and everything will still work out. Try to keep an open perspective and don’t give yourself useless stress.
Try to be a step ahead of the game. Visualize yourself facing the problem before it happens and set goals for how you are going to react.
• Periodically Release Tension and Stress
Impatience is the blowing up of a stored buildup of stress and anxiety. Therefore, try throughout your day to release stress and clean your system. You can try things such as the following:
• Breathing Exercises
• Stress balls
• 10 Minute Yoga Sessions
Whoever stated that patience is a virtue must have realized how long it took to get there.
I remember when I was in my thirties and I wondered what it would be like when I reached my fifties. Little did I know the enormous changes that would occur and the conflicts and depth of soul searching would be affected.
Patience needs to become my friend not only in my current and future career move, but in simple day to day behaviors to ease the stress and anxiety that can be accumulated. I believe what I have gone through will be looked upon in the future as a huge learning curve that affects me both currently and in the future.
As George Savile once stated:
“A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else”.
Impatient guy photo available from Shutterstock