Patience is one of those virtues that is the envy of all that don’t have it. People who can exercise a certain degree of calmness and understanding when faced with difficult and stressful situations seem to have a higher level of functioning than the rest of us.
It seems like they can succeed more easily because they’re able to keep their wits about them in tough times instead of getting all frustrated and angry. Essentially, they’re able to keep their mind when the rest of us are ready to pull our hair out and scream at the top of our lungs.
Can you learn to be patient even if you’ve never been patient before? The answer is yes. You can transform yourself from a crazy, over-emotional, easy-to-upset animal into a quiet, calm and rational human being…and, it’s fairly easy to do if you take the right steps.
Step #1: When something (or someone) gets under your skin, don’t say a word
When you think about a person who is patient versus someone who is not, what is one of the major differences you recognize? It’s probably what they say (and don’t say, as the case may be).
Generally, a person who is tolerant doesn’t open their mouth and begin spewing words that they’ll likely regret later. So, the first step is to learn how to keep your mouth closed when faced with a situation that sends you immediately to the end of your rope.
The reason this is so important is that you can’t think and speak at the same time. You may think you can, but if you’re agitated or upset, it’s highly unlikely. Therefore, if you want to give your mind time to process what is going on, then it requires that you stay silent.
Now, if you want to say a thing or two internally to get some stress out, that is fine. But, don’t let one word leave your lips because once it does you can’t get it back. Then, not only do you have your lack of patience to deal with but now you have to find a way to try to make amends because you likely said something hurtful or mean.
Step #2: Recognize that it’s your problem, not theirs
It’s easy to look at whoever is frustrating us and get mad at them, but the reality is that that it is our problem if we lack the ability to deal with them. After all, we are responsible for how we respond to others and to situations. We control our own actions and responses.
There’s no such thing as someone “making” you angry or frustrated or upset. Even if they have you handcuffed and have a gun to your head, you are still responsible for your reaction. So, don’t get mad at them if you behave like a putz and lose your control. That’s your fault, not theirs.
Recognizing this one simple fact allows you to keep the focus on yourself instead of on them which is great because it also keeps you in the driver’s seat.
If they’re the problem then it is easy to get frustrated as you can’t change or control them. However, if you’re the problem, at least you can make changes that will likely rectify the situation.
Step #3: Ask yourself why you’re so upset
To gain patience, you have to realize what it is that is making you feel impatient. What is it about the situation or person that is sending you over the edge? This may require you digging below the surface to find out what exactly it is that is getting under your skin.
Maybe they remind you of someone else that you’re not particularly fond of or perhaps you are strapped on time and feel like you’re not accomplishing what you intended to accomplish. Whatever it is that is bothering you, you need to give it a name and recognize it. You can’t deal with something you don’t understand.
Step #4: Look for solutions
Once you isolate the true cause of your frustration or lack of patience, it’s time to look for ways to relieve the stress and anxiety so that you aren’t pushed to the limit.
For example, if you easily get upset when your kids don’t sit and do their homework as you take it as a sign that they won’t succeed, you may decide to do something that makes them actually look forward to sitting down and straining their brain. Maybe you agree to give them rewards for good grades or treat them to their favorite movie when the work is done.
Ideally, you want to create a win/win solution. Make it something that is positive for both of you. The more you each get out of it, the better it will be.
Step #5: Keep your perspective
Even in doing the previous four steps, you may encounter times when you’re still tried to the max. Even if you don’t say a thing in the face of impatience, recognize that it’s you and not them, figure out why you’re so upset and come up with a solution, emotions can still sometimes override the best of sensibilities. You may feel like it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back and decide to lose your cool.
If you can just keep your perspective in times like these, it makes outbursts that you later regret much less likely. Even though you care right now, you need to ask yourself if you’ll care five or ten years from now. Is this really an issue worth putting this much energy into?
If the answer is no, then you need to let it go. Why waste your time and effort when you don’t need to? If the answer is yes, it will matter then it’s worth doing right. Put some thought into how you’re going to deal with the situation so it doesn’t blow up in your face. Pull the emotion out of it and actually work on the problem instead of acting like a lunatic (which gets you nowhere).
Patience isn’t the easiest of virtues to master, but it can be done. Not only will it make you a better person, but it will also give you a sense of calmness and control that can’t be beat.
You will finally be in charge of your life and it will feel good.