How often do you find yourself losing your patience? Living in NYC, I find that I am often feeling as though I have to get where I am going faster than the people around me understand and often want to push them out of the way to get where I am going. Luckily, this is just a thought and not something I would actually act upon.
Most of us lose our patience at different times. We start tapping our foot when on a line that is too long; we sigh and moan when we have to wait to be called at the doctor’s office; and we get increasingly irritated as we wait for our spouse to finish getting ready so we can leave for dinner. Impatience is part of our daily lives, unfortunately. It’s important, however, to keep it under control in some way, as it can have negative consequences for our relationships and our health.
Here are some questions and ideas regarding impatience, and some strategies for helping you slow down and enjoy the moment, rather than losing your cool.
WHAT ARE COMMON SCENARIOS THAT MAKE DIF PEOPLE IMPATIENT?
There are many things that make people impatient, but I think most commonly we can impatient when other people are not moving on the same time frame as we are. We are ready to order our meal, the waiter is nowhere to be found. We are ready to get to work, the train is delayed. We are ready to leave the house and find ourselves waiting for our partner or family to finish getting ready. We have become an immediate gratification culture, and we expect things to move quickly, efficiently and in the way we want. When that doesn’t happen, we tend to become increasingly frustrated and irritable, which are signs of impatience. We are also much more impatient when we are stressed out about something. Fundamentally, stress is the cause of much of our impatient reactions.
We often get most frustrated by situations that we have no control over. Sometimes, the lack of control is enough to put us over the edge. If we can recognize that we have no control, sometimes we can let it go and not feel so stressed and frustrated.
Impatience can be good at times too, in that i can help to motivate us to get things done, take control of our lives and move toward a goal we want to achieve.
WHAT ARE COMMON REACTIONS TO BEING IMPATIENT?
Our heart rate may quicken, as will our breathing. People may tap their foot (the quintissential piece of information that someone is waiting), pace, check their watch repeatedly. An individual may begin to feel agitated and be short tempered because he isn’t getting what he wants quickly enough or things are not moving in a way that meets his needs. When we are feeling rushed and/or stressed, we may interrupt, walk away when someone is still talking, not take the time to build relationships. Impatient people are stressed out. They aren’t always the kind of person you want to be around.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT OUR HEALTH? OUR RELATIONSHIPS?
Since impatience is linked to stress, there are a lot of health risks, both physically and mentally. We know that unmanaged stress can lead to heart problem, stomach issues, such as ulcers. It can create an increase in anxiety and depression. Relationships are definitely impacted by impatience. You don’t really want to be around someone who can’t slow down, jumps at other people and may even created conflicts with you because you aren’t doing things in “their” time frame. Impatience can destroy some relationships even, as it seems as if it’s always about the impatient person.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE CAN DO TO PRE-EMPT IMPATIENCE?
First off, you need to know what your triggers are. Identify what kinds of things will make you impatient.
Secondly, be aware of the types of things that can increase your vulnerability to impatience: when you are tired, sick, hungry…all things that decrease your coping skills for managing different kinds of situations.Thirdly, stop and think about what you are stressed about and address it. Most of the time, we get impatient about things that are completely out of our control. Is it really that situation that’s making us so frustrated or something else? If you can’t solve the problem on your own or by talking with friends, it may make sense to reach out for some professional support, a therapist, clergy, etc.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE CAN DO WHEN WE GET IMPATIENT?You can pull yourself back from the impatience edge.
Start by breathing. Your nervous system has sped up dramatically when you feel impatient and you need to slow it down, so taking some slow, deep breaths is really important. Once you slow down, you may find that your thinking is a little clearer as well.
Remove yourself from the situation, if you can. Sometimes, being exposed to the situation that is making you feel frustrated only makes it worse. Can you give yourself a quick time out to regroup and then deal with it.
Ask yourself: is this worth it? Rather than get totally derailed by being on line, maybe use it as an opportunity to take a little break for the day and relax. Instead of cursing because the train isn’t there, imagine how you are going to spend your next vacation or free time later in the day. Take the time to return messages on your smartphone (less to do when you return to the office). There are ways to turn the annoyance into something more positive.
Perspective take: If you are frustrated that the waiter hasn’t returned with your drink, look around. Is the restaurant slammed and he’s the only one working? Take a minute to put yourself into his shoes and see if that helps.
Again, recognize your own thoughts. Generally, it’s something bigger at play. Think about your own thinking. What is it that is really setting you off? Can you do anything about it in that moment? If not, take some breaths and let it go. If you can’t do that, reach out for help.
Take some time to slow down and be aware of the world around you. Recognize that sometimes, the things you are feeling the most frustrated about are completely out of your control. If you can accept that, regardless of how difficult it is, you may find that your patience increases. It is a virtue, after all.