Patience is a virtue they say, well what happens when you simply run out? Have you suddenly become an iniquitous person full of vices? No, of course not, we just simply need to manage the way we deal with things in order to develop a more persistent and balanced level of patience.
There are countless external forces that we face daily which challenge our patience. We have to somehow resist the urge to allow frustrations to get the better of us and keep our cool. This is not the easiest of skills to master as we all know by now so I am hoping that this blog will help to offer some key tools in how to manage it!
We measure our patience on our personal ability to stay calm even under pressure, or during intense situations while we anticipate an outcome.
This comes in various formats: patience within interpersonal relationships – being patient with others and their performance or demands. This comes into play many times between parent and child. Keeping your cool with someone at a very different stage in life can be demanding and extremely challenging. This is an active patience, one which confronts you directly and you must deal with directly. We need to develop listening skills as well as our own self-awareness and emotional intelligence to perceive, and react, to those involved in the best way possible to encourage the best possible outcome. Empathy being the key tool here, that which is necessary to best evaluate what you’re being confronted with and how to deal with it. Losing your patience with your children, for example, doesn’t deliver a positive outcome, they are different to us so we need to take the time to develop an understanding of their reasoning and levels of understanding. We have to evaluate a way to get through to other people on their level.
Another type comes in the form of personal patience within the long-term, involving life goals or situations. Perhaps you are on a mission to get fit, lose weight, recovering from a major setback or illness, waiting for an outcome of something which bears great weight on your life, or just trying to deal with lockdown! This is where the development of perseverance comes into play. Not expecting something to happen immediately, not getting upset when things don’t materialise exactly when you want them to, but rather allowing the universe to have its own clock and rhythm and being at peace with that. We need to dedicate time to that which we wish to achieve and we have to focus on getting there and not get frustrated when it doesn’t happen right away. And when such events take their time we need to put our patience into practice and keep up the motivation to continue.
Patience will also be tested when external forces, that which is out of our control, affect the smooth running of our daily lives. Like queuing for longer than you have time for, sitting in traffic, dealing with incompetence, etc. They may seem like trivial, small instances but they can often be the most challenging to our patience. We need to develop our self-discipline, keep calm and manage ourselves during such moments.
The best way to overcome impatience is to recognise the triggers which cause it, analyse them and yourself when it comes to these external forces and work out ways in which you can prevent them or find the necessary strategies to overcome how they make you feel. There are many breathing exercises, meditations, and relaxation techniques out there to help us develop our empathy and emotional intelligence.
If you feel your fists clenching, your breathing get faster, you’re anxious or nervous, your heart rate increasing and general stress levels rising, you may even feel the need to release some of this tension vocally or physically. This is what needs to be overcome, and it can be. Stop. Look at the situation from the outside, what is causing your reaction? Once you know this you can also prevent yourself falling so deep into a negative reaction next time. Knowing what it is that winds you up is the first step to achieving patience. If you begin to feel those symptoms due to a significant trigger then practice a simple technique (you’ll find ones that work for your individual needs) to help calm you down, release the pressure and find the necessary calm to be able to deal with it.
Techniques to improve patience:
- One very obvious and simple way to prevent impatience is to have a little personal-needs check. Have you eaten? Are you tired? Thirsty? All of these, when neglected can cause us to have less patience than usual.
- Stop whatever you’re doing, find a quiet space if possible, and breathe. Ten, slow in-through-the nose-longer-out-through-the-mouth breaths. Feel your body and mind relax and melt away the strain of what was building in you before. Repeat if necessary.
- Slow it down. Take some time to react to the situation, when we act rashly we often act wrongly and this is not a typical reflection of our true selves, nature or our actual feelings. Take time to respond by literally slowing down your voice and movements. This will make calm feel more apparent and allow more time for your true reaction to manifest.
- When you start to feel physical responses such as tensing your muscles, your jaw, your fists, etc. we must literally release that tension. Stop for a moment and release your hands, shake them out. Wiggle your toes, rotate your ankles, roll your head and neck. Loosen everything up. Go through the whole body and request that your muscles relax and give yourself a reboot.
- Realise that patience is in fact a choice, we do have the option to react however we want to. It may seem as though it overpowers us but we have got the tools to manage it and decide how we are going to react. Take a moment to think about how you should react, not how you want to in that second, this will help you to avoid the latter.
- Practice empathy. Stepping into someone else shoes and truly trying to see from their perspective is an invaluable tool to controlling our own patience. See it their way, analyse this and evaluate the best way to respond to the situation that they too will understand. Take your self out of the equation whilst you give them your undivided attention.
- Catch yourself as you feel your impatience growing and remind yourself that nothing good ever comes from reacting this way. Look for another way and you may well find it quicker and easier than you think. Even taking that moment to look will often allow your impatience to diffuse somewhat.
- When you’re facing a long term situation where patience can wither and you have time to reflect in between moments of frustration, meditation can really be an amazing help. If you just take ten minutes to sit quietly and free your mind of pressure, be present in that one moment only, and allow everything else to wash over you, it can reset the mind and fill you with the peace to continue your journey in calm.
- Exercise helps to give the body and mind a boost, it flushes our systems of pending thoughts and often allows us to hit the reset button. Take a walk, a run, practice yoga, or simply stretch it out.
- Change the chip, as they say. If you are feeling the pressure, your frustrations are rising within you then maybe you simply need to switch up what you are doing for something completely different for the time being. Find time to do something you love to do, that makes you happy, that will distract you from the feeling of impatience. This often helps to recharge the batteries and let you deal with things refreshed and calm.
If patience doesn’t come naturally to you, as for many it simply doesn’t, then it is something we need to consistently pursue and practice until it eventually, in time (be patient!), it becomes second nature.
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