In a wild attempt to exterminate a few highly toxic habits, I’ve been quietly reflecting on the core weaknesses that have unforgivingly latched onto my persona. Casting my other weaknesses aside, I want to focus on one in particular that provokes an inner rage, elevates my stress levels and has caused me unnecessary heartache time and time again. Self-inflicted heartache, of course. I am referring to the beast, that is, my lack of patience. Perhaps, you can relate?
I would like to think that I conceal this well, and only those who are closest to me have witnessed this unattractive trait, but I am almost certain that this five-year-old personality has clawed free from its cage on several (public) occasions.
If, like myself, you are eager to squash the instigator of negative vibes and increase your patience threshold, use this guide as a starting point.
Identify your triggers
Impatience is a stormy cloud of chaos, waiting to rain down on your parade if you don’t raise your patience umbrella ever so swiftly. While you may not have control over the circumstances that surround you, the onslaught of raging emotions can be graciously pre-empted with an understanding of your triggers. Knowledge of what pushes your buttons will enable you to consciously reprogram your response to these triggers and actively reduce your exposure to them where possible.
Mitigating an episode of impatience with a gratitude defence can offer perspective and help dissolve your need for instant gratification. Rather than giving in to your inner rage and firing up the pot of complaints already bubbling at the back of your throat, remind yourself of what you do have and how fortunate you actually are. Be mindful that this tantrum is likely stemming from a series of first world problems. The waiting game is not one that we enjoy playing, but if you are actively counting your blessings and exhaling frustration, you may very well win the game.
Practicing the concept of delayed gratification is the key to training your brain to embrace the waiting game. I am currently putting off watching Game of Thrones until the weekend in spite of an intense desire to binge watch season 3 in one sitting (I was late to the GOT party as you can tell). The desire still exists, but I am not acting on it. It’s a savoury concoction of discipline and patience, and the only way to master this gruelling recipe is to practice. Start small – put off watching Netflix or scanning your various news feeds until you complete something worth rewarding. It will eventually become easier to apply this methodology to infuriating situations that are beyond your control.
Release the tension
Impatience is essentially the volcanic eruption of stress and anxiety. It’s only natural that your patience threshold depletes as your stress level rises. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to relieve the tension and activate a sense of calm. Yoga, breathing exercises, and physical activity are all noted for their stress-deactivating properties. By facilitating the transition into what I refer to as ‘Zen Mode,’ these activities can help increase your tolerance for those painfully frustrating circumstances.
The bigger picture
Will waiting an extra 10 minutes in what you have defined as an excessively long queue really make a difference in the whole scheme of things? Will you remember this moment, years from now? You won’t. It can be difficult to gain perspective and rationalise in the heat of the moment, but acquiring perspective is absolutely vital in ensuring that rash decisions are not made in an attempt to reduce your current discomfort.
In a world that thrives on instant gratification, it’s no wonder our patience threshold has shrunk to a minimal existence. We’re all guilty of giving in to our childish ways from time to time, but life’s too short to heavily endorse this type of behaviour. Some wise chap once declared that patience is a virtue and while cultivating a strong tolerance is easier said than done, it is well worth the effort if it means intercepting a series of tantrums and saving yourself a truckload of grief.