Angela is not happy. She is waiting for her team to present the finished project to her this morning but no one has appeared. She is immobilized by her impatience and not able to get anything done.
What will Angela do? What would you do?
Lacking patience creates havoc in our lives. I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t realized how debilitating it can be. Let’s talk about what the consequences of being impatient could be.
In our opening story, Angela has let her impatience prevent her from getting on with her day. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?
What are some things she might do? She could do something to soothe herself like pulling a bottle of bourbon out of her desk drawer and taking a swig. Or (more likely) grabbing a candy bar to munch on while waiting.
We often self-medicate to soothe our hurt soul, because impatience is really about feeling that other people don’t care about you. And we’re going to talk more about that in a minute.
How many times have you seen, especially in the old movies, when someone was nervous or upset, the first thing they did was reach for a cigarette. So, smoking becomes another way to self soothe, not very good for your lungs, so not a good idea.
You buy things impulsively when you’re impatient. So, that’s not good for your bank account because you may be overspending your budget. You trip over the dog because your mind is elsewhere.
Oh, what about getting on the road and that person cuts you off. And you are furious! Road rage kicks in. And then you start to do nutty things. You lose focus and don’t realize what you’re doing. Those are just a few of the consequences of impatience. You don’t want that for yourself.
Those are the kinds of things that come from impatience. The good news is you can see these experiences as opportunities to look at the situation differently.
So what can you do to take that boiling impatience off your mental stove? That comes through stimulating the spiritual part of your nature which will help you shift your focus to a proactive way around the impatience.
- The first thing Angela could do immediately to get relief is to breathe consciously. Simply taking several deep breaths will lift her mood. That’s the first, quickest and simplest thing you can do that will help you to reframe your mindset and let that impatience subside. So, breathing is immensely helpful in the moment.
- Become aware of your surroundings, of the people around you and what is causing this impatience. What are you feeling at the moment? Is some past recollection of failure or fear filling your mental screen?
The other day I was going somewhere, and I couldn’t find a parking spot. Luckily, I had left enough time to drive around for a while and wait for somebody to leave which somebody did. So that was good. But if I had been late, and under pressure, that would have created a sense of impatience at not being able to find a spot. Anger might arise at all those inconsiderate people who didn’t come out and move their cars! Impatience is irrational. Who knows what would have happened?
- It’s not all about me. That’s where we get into trouble. When you start to ask yourself questions like, “What does this person need from me now that I can do to be helpful?” or “How can we have a conversation that will resolve the issue peacefully?” you shift your thoughts from your annoyance and discomfort to a broader perspective that includes the needs of others as well as your own. Impatient feelings that you are having can subside by noticing your surroundings and by paying attention to the people around you. You can ask those questions and recognize it feels good to come from a helpful place, rather than an impatient place, and your life will be totally different.
So, again I’m in the car, (not so much anymore but I used to be!) I’m on the way to a networking luncheon and suddenly traffic on the L.I.E. comes to a halt. While I’m sitting there, do I start drumming my fingers on the steering wheel because of annoyance and impatience? Not me! I always have an audiobook to listen to while I’m driving. It engages my mind; it’s entertaining and even if I get caught in a traffic jam or there’s an accident and we’re at a standstill, I don’t care. In fact, I’m happy because I’m enjoying the story. I know I’ll get there eventually and meanwhile I’m serene.
- Be prepared! If you prepare ahead of time for unexpected circumstances, there will be nothing to induce impatience. Say you have a meeting coming up with a ‘difficult’ person. When you can think about how that conversation might go and what you might say that could smooth out the rough patches, you won’t feel that impatience flare up. You have put yourself back in the driver’s seat. Confidence and impatience cannot exist at the same time!
- Well, this one is something that is a little bit more difficult to do, but if you do it, you will be a new person! And that is to embrace your impatience! To actually embrace the discomfort because what impatience really is, is a feeling of alienation from the people around you. You’re feeling alone and uncared for.
By embracing your discomfort, you can turn what you perceive as a difficulty into an opportunity for you and for the people with you to uncover new levels of creativity. Especially in business, if you’re impatient with one of your colleagues say, or with a customer, they will pick that up. And that’s not going to go well. You want good business relationships, and that will come from noticing your impatience and working through it, recognizing it and saying to yourself, “I see you and I want to understand where this is coming from.”
Angela has chosen to stimulate her spirit and listen to her internal guidance because she noticed her impatience and felt its bite. She’s listening and is guided to rectify the situation and feel a sense of calm and peace instead.
- The last thing. And this I can’t stress strongly enough: you MUST take care of yourself, because impatience comes from a belief that others don’t care about you. “Oh they don’t care about me. I can’t put up with this B.S. This sucks, and I’m out of here.” And you take off emotionally if not physically.
When you have that kind of attitude, (this is a psychological maxim) what’s really happening here is you are projecting onto others your own inability to take care of you. You’re saying they’re not taking care of you but in truth it’s you that is not taking care of you. So notice that, notice that you may need something at that moment, maybe you’re feeling lonely or misunderstood, so pick up a phone and call a friend you trust who will support you.
Maybe you haven’t done something that needed to get done. Instead of feeling guilty (and impatient with yourself) go do it, take care of it. Don’t put it off!
Eat good food. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. You know these things. Do them, for you and everybody around you!
Stimulate your spirit and pursue your patience with yourself by being good to YOU so that you can feel good about who you are. Then you’ll notice that your relationships will change. You will not feel impatient with other people but will have compassion and understanding. You will find solutions to whatever issues may be going on at the moment.
Angela has addressed her impatience by becoming aware of the spiritual part of her nature. Some of the things she does to encourage that are to do conscious breathing, to become aware of the people around her and how she can help them and how they can work things out together. She chooses to be prepared, not rushing out at the last minute to put out a fire. She takes time in the morning to pause, prepare—to think about the things she needs to take care of for her day’s work. She has learned to embrace her discomfort, that feeling of “they don’t care about me” or, “all these people are some pain in the butt!” She realizes that she needs to turn it back on herself, and love herself, take care of herself. Now it is your turn!
Peace and Love,
In my new book, Calm, Creative, Joyful: Lessons in Transforming Your Life, you will acquire abilities you didn’t know you had, to transform the thoughts that hurt so that your life becomes a play of endless opportunities for success and happiness.
Available on Amazon.
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