Everything in life takes time! For example, how many times have you rushed to just wait? Or you get stuck behind a car going too slow. Or your newborn has a messy diaper just as you are ready to leave the house? Or the service rep puts you on hold for 15 minutes?
As you are waiting, you start feeling your blood boil and before you know it you are snapping at everyone. Losing your patience just brought you an onslaught of interpersonal problems as well as physical stress.
Have you ever noticed how impatient people tend have fewer friends? Impatience makes us sound like “know it alls,” act impulsively and treat others with insensitivity.
Those who show patience are mindfully aware of themselves (see references for more information on mindfulness), their surroundings and their situation. They are typically sought after, trusted, promoted and viewed as more likeable by others. Consider asking your close friends and family about their impressions of you when you are calm versus when you are angry or irritated.
How to develop Mindful Patience
We can better modify our impatience when we know more about our wound-up behaviors from someone else’s perspective. Rather than taking their feedback personally, try to accept it and, in little ways, pay mindful attention to your physical signs and behaviors.
Some of us can’t tell when we are being impatient because we are so caught up in our own reactivity. Most likely when you are inpatient you display shortness of breath, tenseness, restlessness, irritability, and anxiousness. You are probably not aware that your mouth seems dry, your fists are clenched, and your expression would freeze water.
Think for a moment about a time when you felt that feeling of impatience building inside you. What set your impatience off? Was it the traffic, temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, being questioned or something else that put you in an impatience spiral? What did you recall seeing, feeling and hearing back then? Try to jot down a few notes and you’ll see the roots of your impatience emerge. Understanding your triggers and reactions can lead you toward resolution.
Practicing patience doesn’t mean ridding yourself of all anxieties, but rather catching yourself before your impatient attitude gets the better of you.
Here are some soothing, mindful strategies that could turn an impatient frame of mind into a calm one:
- · Catch a few slow, deep, cleansing breaths to slow down your blood flow and lower your blood pressure.
- · Try relaxing from head to toe to loosen the tension in your skeletal muscular especially in your neck. Tense and release your muscle groups, one at a time, from head to toe.
- · Imagine yourself taking a mindful pause as you stay consciously alert to your bodily cues.
- · See your next step as a chance to contemplate. Why not choose to do the opposite of rushing. For instance, move deliberately slower and act thoughtfully and calmly.
- · Late? Change your attention from what you are going to lose to what you can gain from the extra time. Take advantage of the opportunity that is in front of you.
- · Encourage yourself to mindfully listen and try to put yourself in the other’s shoes.
- · Take another mindful moment to talk yourself out of simply reacting by focusing on what you can gain from keeping your composure.
- · Rehearse what you want to say by using a peaceful tone.
- · Tactfully mention your lateness as you gently relate to the circumstances at hand.
- · Experience the benefits of an unjumbled mind and the relief in your body.
If you find yourself unable to manage your reactivity using this mindful sequence, consider counseling, anger reduction classes, yoga or meditation.
See other blogs here for background and discussions of mindfulness applied to everyday life problems.
Dr Unger’s books on mindfulness: “Calm,” “Courage,” “Sleep,” and “Happy” are available through Barnes & Noble. “How to be Content” and “How to Make Space” will be available in the US on Amazon in late July 2018.
Colier, Nicole The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in A Virtual World. Amazon.
Lucado, Max, Anxious for Nothing. Google Play.
Sisko, Alden, Ultimate Guide to Developing Patience. Barnes & Noble.