Updated: Jul 4
Waiting in long lines. Traffic jams. Inefficient coworkers. What do these things have in common? You may be thinking, "Well obviously these are just annoyances that take up valuable time that I don't have," or something to that effect. That is what comes to mind for me at least. Each of these things are things that require patience, something that we often don't have a lot of in our fast-paced society.
From the microwave, to the toaster, to emails and instant messaging, we have become accustomed to instant access to everything we need, readily available and within reach. Instant gratification. From our cellphones to our cameras to our tablets, the instant results we get from technology has in turn increased our appetite for instant gratification. The new expectation of the 21st century is that we want things to move both quickly and efficiently and in the way we want. Add in our 40+ hour work weeks and other family obligations, we are constantly busy often zooming in between various activities. We don't have time to be slowed down by any inconveniences. When those inconveniences show up in our lives, we tend to become increasingly irritable or frustrated. Impatient. This can't possibly be good long term can it?
Impatience: The danger to our physical and emotional wellness
Impatience is linked to frustration, irritation, and even anger. Neither of these are good for our stress levels. The American Psychological Association (APA, 2018) outlined just some of the effects of stress in the body in their article: "Stress Effects on the Body." This article highlighted the following:
"Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems."
From headaches to migraines, from hyperventilation to asthma, from hypertension to heart attack to stroke, from increased inflammation to decreased immune functioning to diabetes to obesity, from mood changes to heartburn to stomach ulcers to bloating to constipation, from anxiety to panic attacks, from lower sex drive to decreased sperm production to irregular periods to difficulty conceiving and carrying pregnancy to term, it is safe to say that stress, long term, can have devastating effects on our bodies. When we are impatient, we are not calm; we are not relaxed; we are not breathing deeply but rather are engaging in shallow, rapid breathing.
Impatience: The danger to our financial wellness and intellectual wellness
Impatience also effects our financial and intellectual wellness. "How so?" you may be wondering. When we are impatient and want things now, we tend to seek immediate gratification for the things we want well now. The results could be impulsive buying relying heavily on credit cards and other loans to finance our desired purchases. This impatience can often lead to us accepting riskier loans with higher interest rates because we want quick financing solutions. Because we are constantly spending, we aren't saving money for emergency expenses.
Another aspect of impatience to explore is how being in this state of arousal can lead a person to make hasty, rash judgments. Picture this. A woman is driving on a two lane, curvy road in the rural. The yellow lines are double so that means that this is a no passing zone. She is already running late and is in a hurry to get her children to school. The car in front of her is impeding her progress. She slams her hand on the steering wheel. It's a 45 mph speed zone and this person is determined to drive just that. She mutters as she checks the time. She has 5 minutes to make a 15-minute trip otherwise her children will be tardy for school and worse yet, she will be late for work. After tailgating dangerously close, she loses it and passes the car at a high rate of speed. The tail end of her car is just now passing the front end of the other car as she spies an 18-wheeler heading straight towards her. She swerves in front of the other vehicle in the nick of time but not before causing the other driver to slam on their brakes in order to not rear end her. (Oh boy, wait until dad hears about this one!) Being impatient not only can be costly to our wallets but the rash decisions it leads us to make can also be hazardous to our lives or the lives of others.
With all of this in mind, you can probably agree that the more impatient you are, the more likely you are to have some ill health effects. However, to accept this means that it is possible for the opposite to be true. The more patient that you are, the more likely it is that you are able to enjoy better health. But not just better health. Better financial and social relationships as well. Being patient is a valuable skill that can bring a sense of calm and resilience to various aspects of life. However, the key word here is skill. Patience is not something we are born with. It is another one of those life hacks that we have to practice, practice, and then practice again. I won't hold you here much longer so here are 5 tips to help you be more patient with yourself.
Tip #1 - Identify triggers:
You cannot heal what you do not know. Identify the situations or circumstances that have a tendency to challenge your patience. Recognizing your triggers enables you to proactively prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, allowing you to respond with greater patience when confronted with those situations in the future. This will not be an overnight process. You will need to spend time each week (every day if you can but for now each week) identifying what things trigger your impatience. Is it traffic? Is it the waitress or waiter that bypassed your table 3 times already? Is it annoying customers or coworkers? Is it your spouse or your children? Once triggered, how do you generally respond? This data is invaluable in helping you develop your impatience profile. Once completed, you are ready for the next step.
Tip #2 - Practice mindfulness:
Engage in mindfulness practices like meditation or deep breathing to foster a heightened sense of awareness in the present moment. You have done your homework. You are aware of your triggers. You are aware of your usual responses. Now by cultivating mindfulness, you can develop a greater understanding of your thoughts and emotions, empowering you to respond with enhanced patience rather than impulsive reactions.
Tip #3 - Adjust expectations:
So, here's the thing. I live in the real world. And in the real world, people don't behave the way we think they should behave. Okay let's keep it real. People don't often behave the way we KNOW they should behave. Common sense isn't always common. Sometimes we have to pivot and adjust. "Why should I have to change when they are the ones that are wrong?" you may be thinking. I get it. I promise. The world would operate so much better if everyone acted the way I want them to as well. However, we both know that this isn't how things work. We have to adjust. Having unrealistic expectations can result in feelings of frustration and impatience. We have to take that crucial step to evaluate whether our expectations are in line with reality and make necessary adjustments. Recognize that certain things take time, and not everything will go according to plan.
Tip #4 - Reframe the situation:
Try to see the bigger picture and reframe challenging situations in a more positive light. In other words, is there a different way to see this situation? Despite those secret beliefs that our egos have convinced us of regarding our own infallibility, the truth is that we may sometimes be missing a key element. Take into account how delays or inconveniences could potentially present opportunities for personal growth or learning experiences.
Tip #5 - Develop coping strategies:
You mean to tell me I'm not perfect and infallible!!! Yeah, shocking I know. So now that we know that we are regular like everyone else and sometimes our stuff stinks too, what is the next step? Find healthy ways to cope with stress and frustration. We need to participate in activities that promote relaxation and rejuvenation, such as exercising, reading, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies. Engaging in positive outlets can aid us in releasing tension and nurturing patience. And the most important kind of patience we will need to have is with ourselves. Patience starts at home.
Just because you made it this far, here's a bonus tip as a special thank you!
Bonus Tip - Self-compassion:
One of the best tips a friend gave to me once when I was grieving was the reminder to "Be gentle with yourself." I can't think of an arena in my life where this loving encouragement hasn't shown up. Managing the urge to be impatient requires being gentle with yourself and showing some self-compassion during slip ups. Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would treat a close friend or loved one. It allows you to acknowledge that you are human and prone to mistakes and shortcomings too. So, tell that ego to pipe down; we are all works in progress.
Developing patience is a skill that necessitates practice and may not come naturally as you strive to enhance this trait. In moments when you exhibit impatience, take time to reflect on the situation and discern areas for personal growth. Bear in mind that cultivating patience requires dedication and time. Be compassionate towards yourself and acknowledge the progress you make along the journey. As always, I appreciate your readership and would love to hear from you. What are some things that cause you to act with impatience? What have you tried to combat this? Let me know in the comments below. In the meantime, please remember that wherever you are on this wellness journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!
"Above all, you must fight conceit, envy, and every kind of ill-feeling in your heart." ~Abraham Cahan
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