Paul J. Mayer
The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing.
What Does it Mean to Have Patience?
Having patience is the ability to tolerate waiting and delays without becoming frustrated or agitated. Moreover, it is the ability to remain calm when facing difficulties and adversity. By controlling one’s restlessness and emotions the patient person is able to effectively control their natural impulses that can often lead them astray.
This is all well and good, however to understand the true value of what being patient is all about it’s helpful to explore some of the benefits that patience has to offer for those who take the time to use it.
The True Value of Patience
You have probably heard the same advice over and over again from numerous people over a lifetime: Just be patient when something doesn’t quite go to plan. They say that patience is a virtue or that good things come to those who wait. This is of course sagely advice, however have you ever stopped to think about the true value of patience and the positive impact it can have on your life?
For instance, having patience can profoundly help improve your relationships with other people. Why? Because as a human species we subconsciously value and respect those who display patience where others would typically get agitated and frustrated.
Furthermore, because you are not getting caught up in your emotional impulses, patience actually helps you to step back from the situation. And when you step back you gain more clarity and a deeper understanding of what’s happening around you. As such this makes you more sensitive and aware of what other people are going through, and as a result it opens the door to compassion and empathy.
Now of course, given the fact that you are no longer emotionally riled up about the situation, it’s natural to expect that patience will begin to filter out the stress and overwhelm that you possibly might have experienced if you made a different choice in the spur of the moment. This then therefore provides you with a greater sense of poise, peace, and control over the situation. In fact, any mistakes you might have made now no longer seem as harsh or cutthroat. In fact, since you are no longer emotionally riled up about the situation you may now see the true value in making these mistakes.
Your ability to think more constructively, analytically, critically and creatively is also suddenly enhanced. As such, you are now better able to see the bigger picture of the predicament you find yourself in, and as a result you are more capable of evaluating these circumstances more effectively and thereby solving problems more readily.
As a result of this clarity of thought, you are now able to plan ahead and make better decisions moving forward. This subsequently enhances your chances of overcoming the obstacles you face in the pursuit of the goal you had in mind.
Overall, patience has made you happier and mentally healthier because you are no longer at the whim of circumstances, but rather sitting in the driver’s seat in full control of the mental and emotional faculties of your mind. And this is really where true power resides. It resides in your ability to patiently handle anything that life throws your way with clarity of mind; coming from a calm and responsive state. And that is in essence the real value of patience.
Why Be Patient?
In the modern era we live in a society where almost everything is immediately made available at our beckoning call. If you want instant answers to something then just do a Google search. If you want a quick bite to eat, just call your local pizza delivery place, or maybe you just want some entertainment. Well you have it a click away on your TV, mobile device or computer.
Given how society has shaped our behavior and expectations, it’s easy to see that patience for most people would be quite difficult to come by. Who needs to be patient when you pretty much can have everything you want or need at your fingertips?
Although this may be true at a convenience level, this is far from true on other levels where for instance our goals are involved, or when dealing with other people. In such instances patience is absolutely paramount, however for the most part — because we live in a convenience society — most people simply don’t have enough of it, and that is why they struggle.
How Society Views Impatience
Even though many of us continuously struggle with impatience, it is typically not something that we tend to tolerate in other people.
Have a think about a person who is impatiently getting riled up about something. Observing this person you might think of them as being bad tempered, insensitive, arrogant, irritable, impulsive or judgmental. These are all certainly negative qualities that many of us tend to avoid, and yet we live in a culture driven by instant gratification. So even though we value patience, we find it difficult to practice it in our day-to-day lives.
Success Comes to Those Who Are Patient
As a society we of course subconsciously understand that impatience can often lead to mistakes and poor decisions. In fact, impatience rarely makes things better, and it certainly won’t solve our problems. And yet, because of our instant gratification culture we continue to look for quick fixes, for get-rich-quick schemes, and for shortcuts that will help us get our desired aims. These things of course rarely if ever work, and yet we continue to pursue them out of habit.
Patience is an absolute requirement for the attainment of any goal, because some things simply can’t be rushed or hurried. They need your thought and attention to detail to bring to fruition. Moreover, some things just take time and effort on your part; they require a long-term commitment and dedication to follow through with a set of actions despite the various challenges and obstacles that you might face along your journey.
Having said that, patience isn’t about sitting idle waiting for things to happen. That is not patience, but rather procrastination. Idleness can actually breed impatience and stress. So if idleness is not the answer, then what is?
Patience is something that is proactive in nature. It requires your full involvement and attention. It’s very much like putting the car brakes on to slow yourself down so that you can gain the necessary perspective required to move yourself forward at full speed once again. Yes, by all means you can continue to accelerate to try and get to your destination faster, however without the necessary perspective you might not see the vehicle in your blind spot and this may subsequently result in a crash.
People Also Need Your Patience
While traveling down the highway in pursuit of your goal, you will likely come across people who will assist you along your journey. It is however important to note that these people aren’t perfect. In fact, these people won’t always do as you ask, and will make plenty of mistakes along the way. They may even slow you down at times. However, they are there to help and assist you, and they therefore provide you with an opportunity to practice patience.
Relationships are strengthened through patience. Where impatience often causes friction within a relationship, patience on the other hand brings people closer together for a common purpose and goal. Now of course this doesn’t mean that you should allow yourself to be taken advantage of. What it does mean is that you must accept people as they are. Nobody is perfect and people often have the best of intentions in mind. As such, it’s absolutely paramount to be patient and nurture all your relationships so that they can flourish and grow with you along your journey toward your goal.
Five Step Process for Overcoming Impatience
No matter how diligent and self-aware we are, there is always a chance that at times impatience can get the better of us. This of course — as we’ve already discussed — can hurt us in numerous ways. Not only can it hinder the progress we are making toward our goal, but it can also damage our relationships with other people. As such, cultivating patience whenever possible is of paramount importance.
Let’s now take a look at a five step process you can use to help you become even more self-aware of your own reactions and responses to the events and circumstances of your life. By following this process, you will more effectively handle situations where you might have typically responded impatiently.
Step 1: Recognize Your Impatience
The first step is to recognize the moment you are getting a little agitated and impatient. To do this you must become more mindful of your thoughts and reactions to what’s going on around you.
Becoming more mindful is a habit-of-mind that you can develop with practice. It requires regularly turning inward and reflecting upon your feelings in any given situation.
The more mindful you are at any given moment in time, the more likely you are to recognize moments when you’re caught in the grip of impatience.
Step 2: Stop the Process of Thinking
Having recognized your impatient reactions to the situation, it’s now time to settle into the moment by calming the body and mind.
You could for instance take a deep breath in and out and quietly tell yourself to “Relax now… Relax now… Relax now…”. The key here is to settle your mind and body so that you can think more clearly about the situation at hand.
Step 3: Identify the Triggers
Now that you are in a more relaxed and calm state-of-mind, let’s become mindful once again of what just happened. Specifically, at this stage it’s important to identify what exactly triggered your tension, anxiety, frustration or impatience in the first place. Gaining clarity about this trigger will help you to better deal with the situation in an appropriate manner. Ask yourself:
Why am I feeling impatient in this moment?
What specifically is causing me to feel this way?
Are there any specific people, events or circumstances that have made me feel impatient?
What specifically has happened or what exactly have people said or done?
Why exactly is all this making me feel this way?
Step 4: Analyze the Situation
Now that you have a clear understanding of what specifically triggered your impatient feelings, it’s now time to dig a little deeper into those feelings in order to begin shifting how you feel about the situation. Your goal should be to move from a feeling of impatience to a more optimal feeling that can help you make the most of the situation.
Let’s first take a look at the predicament you find yourself in. Ask yourself:
Does my impatience help or hinder me in this situation?
Is this a major inconvenience or am I completely blowing things out of proportion?
Does it make any sense to feel impatient in this situation?
Am I possibly misreading this situation? Is it really how I see it?
What story am I telling myself about this situation in my mind?
How has this story affected the way I feel about this situation and/or person?
What essentially matters most here? What is of most value?
Now that you have a little more clarity about the way you view the situation, let’s now explore how we can shift this view in a more optimal way. Ask yourself:
How else could I possibly view this situation?
How else could I interpret these events and circumstances?
How else could I interpret this person’s intentions?
What value could patience have in this situation?
How could I begin resolving these feelings in this moment?
The final question that will hopefully help resolve your feelings about this situation is one of control. Ask yourself:
Do I have any control over this situation?
What do I control? What can I change or influence? How?
What don’t I have control over that I must let go of?
Many times we feel impatient because we want to desperately control something but are unable to do so. As such we get frustrated and agitated about this lack of control.
You will never feel better if you’re always concerned about not having control over something. In such instances it’s important to acknowledge what it is you can’t control and let that go. Just accept how things are and move on. It is afterall resistance that breeds impatience.
Step 5: Decide Upon the Next Steps
Now that you have all this clarity about your state-of-mind and about the situation, it’s now time to make one of three decisions moving forward:
- Decide to act to resolve your feelings about the situation.
- Decide to wait-it-out until the issue has been resolved.
- Decide to observe the situation patiently but proactively in order to learn from the experience.
If you decide to act to resolve your feelings about the situation then you must understand that there are always consequences to these actions. However, if you feel you have little choice in the matter, then by all means take the necessary actions to deal with things appropriately, as long as you accept the consequences that might come about.
Now of course you always have a choice with how you act. You don’t necessarily need to act in a brash and/or impatient manner. You can instead use your newfound perspective of the situation to approach things in a calm and relaxed manner that doesn’t frazzle any feathers. This choice is of course always yours to make.
Alternatively you can wait things out patiently until the issue has been resolved. This effectively becomes an ideal opportunity for you to practice the art of patience despite the agitation you might feel within. Just accept how things are and commit yourself to the fact that you will not get riled up about the situation or person.
Your third option is to become an active observer of the events and circumstances. Here you are emotionally disconnected from the situation in order to gather enough space for self-reflection. In this space you reflect on how things are, on how things could be, and on all the possible interpretations people could make of this situation. You are in essence actively learning from the experience in order to train your mind to handle circumstances such as these in a more optimal way.
Guidelines for Overcoming Impatience
Within this final section, let’s take a look at some guidelines to help you deal with impatience far more effectively.
As you work through these guidelines it’s important to remember that patience is a state-of-mind. It’s something that you will develop over time as you would with any habit. As such, the process of developing patience doesn’t follow a straight line from point A to B. It’s something that you need to progressively work on developing in numerous situations. However, over time with practice you can certainly begin to nourish more patience in your life.
Make a Conscious Effort to Slow Down
The first key to developing patience involves literally slowing down. We often become impatient when we are within an urgent state-of-mind; rushing frantically through the day. In this frantic state it’s easy to become impatient when things don’t go to plan or people and circumstances just get in your way.
In order to slow yourself down begin by becoming more mindful of yourself, of other people, and of your surroundings. Yoga and meditation in particular can help you to develop mindfulness. However, it will take time and practice because mindfulness is a habit that requires your full commitment and attention.
When you are more mindful of the moment, you will literally slow down because you instantly become more thoughtful and introspective within each moment. Moreover you begin to see things more clearly, vividly and from numerous vantage points and perspectives. This likewise provides you with more clarity-of-mind and as a result you begin to cultivate more patience.
Along the same lines, gratitude can also encourage a more patient approach to life, people and circumstances. This works because whenever you cultivate gratitude you are no longer obsessed with what is causing you uneasiness or tension. You instead focus on the things you appreciate most about your life and circumstances, and as such this slows things down and allows you to be more patient in the moment.
Journal Your Thoughts and Feelings
Taking some time daily to journal your thoughts and feelings will help you become more reflective. This likewise will allow you to observe yourself more objectively.
You may for instance reflect on how your day unfolded. This time of self-reflection and journaling will help you make sense of the day’s events while also allowing you to learn from how the day unfolded.
As you reflect and learn you begin to understand more about yourself in various situations and can then make adjustments moving forward to help you cultivate more patience in certain instances.
Say for instance that you responded rather impatiently in a specific situation. That night you would take time to write in your journey how the event unfolded, and then explore how else you might have handled the situation in a more patient and mindful manner.
You might find it helpful to ask yourself the following set of questions while working through your journal entry:
What happened in this situation?
How did I respond to this situation?
Why did I respond in this way?
What impact did my response have on other people?
How did my response make me feel?
How else could I have handled this situation?
How will I handle similar situations in the future?
Take on a Problem Solver Mentality
We often become impatient when something gets in the way of our desired objectives or simply doesn’t meet our expectations. In such instances our impatience grows as we feel that we are somewhat lacking control over the situation.
One way to overcome this trap requires a slight perspective shift. However, in order to make this perspective shift you will need to discipline yourself not to impulsively react to the situation. Instead, your objective is to get a little curious about what is going on. Curiosity will create interest, and interest will subdue any irritation you might be feeling in the moment.
While in this state of curiosity, commit yourself to becoming a problem solver. No longer are these circumstances you find yourself in an “irritant” but rather a problem that must be solved. And of course we all know that solving problems takes patience. Scientists solve problems all of the time. They do so by asking the right kinds of questions that will help them identify suitable solutions for the problem at hand. For instance you could ask:
What’s the problem here that must be solved?
Why specifically is this a problem?
How must I go about trying to solve this problem?
What kind of solutions might be of greatest value here?
When you are in a “problem solver mode” you immediately become more patient in the moment because you are no longer focusing on what you can’t control, but rather looking at ways to find an answer to a problem you are suddenly facing. Yes, it’s a slight perspective shift, but it can certainly make a world of difference. 🙂
Practice Empathy and Compassion
When dealing with other people we can often get impatient when they do or say something that doesn’t quite meet our expectations in that particular situation. We experience tension in such instances because we are simply too focused on ourselves and on our own needs. In other words, we are lacking compassion and empathy for the other person, which is why we grow impatient.
Sometimes all that’s needed on your part is to become a little more compassionate. Take time to empathize with what the other person is going through. Just maybe they don’t understand things properly; just maybe they have had a horrible day; or just maybe something’s wrong that you have no awareness about.
No matter what it is, try to get down to the bottom of it by showing the person a little more compassion. This act alone will immediately nullify any tension you might have been feeling and will allow you to be more patient and understanding in the moment.
Expect the Unexpected
Your expectations of any situation impact how you see things. Typically if things unfold that go against our expectations, then it’s easy to become a little riled up and impatient. On the other hand, when things go as we had expected, then it’s subsequently easy for us to stay calm, cool and collected.
Linked to expectations are our personal standards. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we all have standards that we look to uphold. These standards help us to maintain consistency through our daily actions and interactions. This is all well and good of course, it does however become problematic when we push those same standards onto other people. And this is of course when expectations come into the picture.
We expect that other people should hold the same standards as we do in various situations. However, everyone has their own set of personal standards that they adhere to. The problem is that some of these standards may not meet your expectations of them in this situation, and as such this could cause friction manifesting in frustration and impatience.
Given this, it’s important that we keep an open mind when it comes to our expectations. In fact, in order to cultivate more patience it’s helpful in some ways to expect the unexpected. In other words, don’t box yourself into thinking that things should only be one way. There are always numerous ways that things could unfold, and you must be mentally ready and prepared to deal with all of them in a patient manner.
One way to prepare yourself is to reflect on how things might potentially unfold and then acknowledge how you will respond to these various scenarios. In this way you will be ready for the twists and turns in your day when your patience is tested.
For instance, consider how you might respond to a driver who cuts you off on your commute to work. Or how you might respond to waiting in a slow moving checkout line in a grocery store. Or consider how you might respond to someone who persistently makes the same mistake over and over again.
It’s very possible that sooner or later as you go about your day that you will confront one or more of the above scenarios. As such, preparing for them in advance will ensure that you make the most of each situation by responding to it in a calm and patient manner.
Avoid Using Patience as an Excuse
Yes, patience is a virtue, but it of course all depends on how you use it.
When it comes to achieving goals, some people have a tendency to use patience as an excuse for indulging in procrastination and perfectionism. This is not patience, but rather just a poor excuse that sabotages your progress.
Yes, patience is important. In fact, at times we do need patience in order to step back to gain a better perspective of the situation or the path we are traveling on. With this clarity-of-mind we can then move forward in a more optimal way by making better choices and decisions toward our goal. However, when patience consistently leads to bouts of procrastination and/or perfectionism, then you must at that moment realize that you’re fooling no one but yourself.
Use patience for self-reflection, for gaining clarity, and for making the most of opportunities. That is after all where patience will be of most value.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 4 Steps to Developing Patience @ Psychology Today
- 5 Powerful Ways Leaders Practice Patience @ Forbes
- 5 Tips for Being More Patient in All Areas of Your Life @ Psych Central
- 5 Tips for Having More Patience @ Mind Body Green
- 5 Tricks to Becoming a More Patient Person @ Huffington Post
- 7 Unconventional Ways to Develop Patience @ Dave Ursillo
- 7 Ways to Become More Patient @ Elite Daily
- 9 Techniques for Developing Patience @ The Simple Dollar
- Developing Creativity with Patience @ Psych Central
- Developing Patience: On 8 Year Old’s Recommendations @ Psychology Today
- How to be Patient @ Wikihow
- How to be Patient and Stay Calm Under Pressure @ Mind Tools
- How to Improve Your Patience @ The Positivity Blog
- Impatient? Why and How to Practice Patience @ Psychology Today
- Simple Ways to Trick Yourself into Being More Patient @ Fast Company
- Some Things Take Time: Slow Down and Stop Pushing @ Tiny Buddha
- The Importance of Patience in Life @ LinkedIn
- The Psychology of Waiting: 8 Factors that Make the Wait Seem Longer @ Psych Central
- The True Meaning of Patience @ Tiny Buddha