What is impatience? It is the frustration, anger, and resentment you feel when you’re not able to control a situation to your liking.
Why try to overcome this difficult emotion? Because impatience robs us of our happiness. If we can learn how to melt it away as opposed to conquering it then we can experience a better quality of life.
Why is patience so difficult to achieve? It’s because it requires us to be actively passive about a situation. It’s like trying to forget something. The more you think about it, the harder it is to forget it.
What Drives You Up a Wall?
There are 5 major types of situations where we experience impatience. I will address each one in turn. They are:
- Dealing with Children
- Dealing with (Difficult) Adults
- Waiting (short time periods)
- Waiting (long time periods)
- When Things Don’t Work – computers, cars, gadgets, projects, writing, anything that’s not going your way!
How to Be Patient
1. With Children.
- Understand and accept that children move at a slower pace. Isn’t that wonderful for them? Maybe not for you in the moment, but contemplate this and remember the joy of being a child. Be happy for that child that they have not yet become a fast moving robot.
- Slow down to their pace if you can and enjoy it! The rest of the world can just wait! Of course there are times you can’t do this, but look for opportunities when you can.
- Don’t react negatively to negative emotions in your child. Try to understand why they are having that emotion. They get tired and frustrated just like us. Try not to yell. Instead seek to help them through their emotions. If the child is tired, find a way as soon as possible for them to take a break. A hug can go a long way towards diffusing a frustrated child. If the child is frustrated, model for them how to handle thier frustration positively. It’s ok to huff and puff and let it out, but then it’s time to figure out what to do next. Help them with this. (see below “When Things Don’t Work”)
- Compassion. Remind yourself that children our vulnerable. They need us to be compassionate. Taking time out to talk about how they feel will make them a stronger adult someday. By talking it out, they will feel better and so will you.
- Snapping out of it. After discussing it, if the child is having difficulty letting go of the negative feelings, i.e. wallowing, then help them to get distracted enough to snap out of it. Humor works great for this. The earlier you can teach a child to do this the better they will be able to do it on their own later on.
- Hyperactivity. If you are in a low energy mode and the child is in high energy mode, the solution is to get them to work off some of that energy productively. A trip to the park, beach or a field for some physical activity is optimal. When that’s not an option, you could set them up with an activity such as painting, collage making, a dance contest, a backyard soccer game, whatever. Here is a list of 78 kid activities you can also try. Tip: try to avoid too much sugar and TV as these seem to make kids a little cranky.
- Good Parenting Resolutions is a helpful resource as well.
2. With Adults
- Compassion. Ask yourself, “Why does this person act this way?” Seek to understand. You could even try asking the person. Just be sure to do this in a spirit of compassion not in anger or judgement.
- Acceptance. If you must deal with a difficult person, try this: In your mind say to them “I accept you as you are.” I know this sounds difficult. It can be. But if you practice it, it does work. You will be sending out positive energy to them. They will receive it and, actually, so will you!
- Force Field. This may sound kooky, but I can tell you from firsthand experience dealing with some very difficult people, that this works. Here’s what you do: Imagine that you have a force field around you that shields you from negativity. We don’t have to absorb negativity. We don’t have to lock in and hook into it. Simply watch it, observe it like a balloon floating by. Just remember, don’t grab the string of that balloon!
- Avoidance. If you can, stay away or spend as little time as possible with negative people. When conflict arises with a difficult person, have a goal of moving forward as opposed to a goal of “winning.”
- Be Prepared. Plan how you will react, how you will remain calm, and what you might say.
- Vent Your Feelings Later and Laugh. Share your stories later in the day with a friend or loved one and choose to be amused by it rather than angry.
3. Waiting – Short Term (such as waiting in line or waiting at a doctor’s office)
- Read. Use the time to read a magazine, your RSS feed on your cell phone or something you’ve brought with you.
- Write. Makes some plans. Write a letter. Journal about your day, feelings, whatever.
- Draw. Do some sketching to make your brain stronger!
- Rest Your Eyes. Most of us need this anyway. Close your eyes. Hold your hands over them and restore them a little bit.
- Creative Thinking Time. We all need time to think about things. Waiting is a great opportunity for this. Try it with your eyes closed.
- Play Games. This could be a crossword puzzle or games with people around you. You can play “20 Questions,” Hangman, or Pictionary.
- Choose Not to Get Mad. Say this to yourself. Unless someone’s life is in danger, just let it go. If someone’s life is in danger, then get out of line!
- Tip: Always bring reading or writing materials with you where ever you go!
4. Waiting – Long Term (to reach a long term goal, future vacation, party, return of a loved one, purchase you want to make, etc.)
- Break It Into Smaller Chunks. If possible, try to segment your goal into smaller compartments. Focus on today’s portion. Establish mini check points on your way to reaching that goal and celebrate the smaller accomplishments along the way.
- Distraction. Some things simply require passive waiting such as waiting for a loved one to return from being away. In this case, keep busy. Work on productive things you need to get done anyway.
- Occasional Daydream. You won’t be able to help it, so when it happens go ahead and indulge in happy thoughts about the thing you are waiting for, assuming it is a good thing.
- Be Present. Find ways to simply be present today so that your complete focus on today crowds out thoughts of what you are waiting for. Look for the good and the joy in the moment. This is good to do whether what you are waiting for is good or bad.
5. When Things Don’t Work
- Say No to Anger. When starting a project or upon encountering a roadblock, the first thing you can do that will help you is to decide not to get angry. Anger only serves to drain your energy which you will need for problem solving.
- Read the Instructions. I always jump right in before reading the instructions. If you do this too, and you run into problems, check the manual.
- Slow Down. Rushing always brings about accidents and oversights. Take a deep breath and go slow.
- Ask for Help. This one is easy and hard. It’s hard because we think we are burdening people by asking for help. But most times, people like to be needed, they like to help, and they find it flattering. It’s easy to do. Just ask. Let your pride go and focus on your goal of solving your problem.
- Take a Break! This is so important. Sometimes you can’t, but most times you can squeeze in at least a short break. Longer breaks are better. During this time your subconscious will be given the space it needs to come up with a solution for you! This almost always helps! Remember to try this!
- Analyze. Take a step back and assess whether it is worth your time to continue to work on this problem. If not, consider aborting the mission and starting anew.
Where do you struggle with patience and how do you handle it? All comments big and small are very welcomed!
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