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The challenge of patience and how to improve on it
“It does not matter how long you are waiting as long as what you do while waiting matters.”
… seems extremely difficult for most people…
Simply because patience is not the easiest quality to have in life. Especially in today’s society where everything happens fast:
• We get everything we want in seconds, and if it takes minutes, we feel is far too slow
• We are so connected that we disconnect
• We take so many pictures we do not see what is there to see
• We get so much information and yet the brains seem emptier each day
The basic definition of patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.
We often lose patience. And when we do, a few things are happening:• We start feeling irritated
• We start thinking “I’m losing my time, why did I even go into this”
• We start moving in all directions and as a result all we get is being exhausted
• We start seeing more the problems than the solutions, and we add worry and fear into the frustration,
• And so much more.
From that state of mind and emotions, the actions are not necessary very efficient; yes we do things, yet, chances are we also do mistakes, or things we know cannot work; in the same time we have to do something before we get mad, right!? Cos what is worth than doing nothing, correct?
And in the same time, when in overdoing not only we have no results as we lose focus, we get frustrated and disconnected from ourselves, and we are lacking internal alignment.
To cut a long story short is not working. It even has the contrary effect of what we are looking for. When we lack patience, we go further from the results we were hoping to achieve and that increases our anger. Logically, we understand this is not working, so why keep doing it?
What is the story the mind it telling us about that “time” independent how long it takes?
• Some may get impatient the internet takes 1 minute instead of 15 seconds to load something.• Some may get impatient for queuing at the supermarket for more than 10 minutes
• Some may get impatient for not receiving any news from an interview after 1 day
• And the examples could go on and on
It is not about how long it takes; it is about the meaning each of us gives to that time.
When the logic does not help, we want to get some more information from our emotions and our intuitions. Except when we are in overthinking, and from there we move to overdoing, the space allowed for emotions is small, mainly cos we do not like those specific emotions linked to not having what we want “right now”. And as we do not want to feel it, we run as far as possible just to make sure those emotions do not reach surface; obviously not only that is not working but it also cuts us completely from our intuition.
The challenge of patience it’s about emotions, meaning and focus.
Let s take them one by one
Emotions: when we deal with lack of patience, what is that we really feel. It may be very personal as a message each of us receives from that emotion, and that can be addressed, listened, understood, while working with a professional coach. What we notice is that independent of the specific thinking pattern that applies to each individual, it usually goes into “I have no time, I have no time to lose, I am losing something”; into the fear of “I am losing my time, I am losing”. Those are not necessary the emotions we enjoy the most. That is a result of scarcity, or not having enough, but one can wonder not having enough of what and mostly for what…
Meaning: the time that passes between an action and its result is technically measured. Yet the meaning behind it is what is messing up with us. If we think that is too long, it is too long. And if we think it is too short that is too short. It may be let’s say 1h. Is that too long, too short, or it is what it is? In some situations, 1 hour is nothing. Let’s say we take an oversee flight, we have to be at the airport minimum 1h in advance. That does not necessarily come with “that’s too long” thinking. Why, because the flight will take 10 hours. And we wanted to go on that dream holiday for years. Therefore, in comparison that 1h is totally fine. Yet the same 1h when we go to the post office for example it becomes unacceptable. The time is the same. 1h; yet the meaning behind it is different.
Focus: what do we focus on when we are losing patience? On what is not happening while we are waiting. To cook pasta takes 10 minutes let’s say. When all that we do during those 10 minutes is to watch the pasta boiling, thinking “I am so hungry”, keep taking them out to see if they are cooked already, and watching the clock every 3 seconds, it feels like forever. When we put them to boil and start preparing the tomato sauce, or go on a phone with our best friend, or read something in the meantime, those 10 minutes may go in no time. The time is still the same, is the focus that changed. And some are able to just watch the pasta transformed and the bubbles coming up of the boiling water, and all the changes that are happening, and they are so fully present they may even ignore the 10 minutes have pasted without someone reminding them of time.
As one may see the key here is not about learning how to wait, is what we do while waiting.
Learning about patience is a permanent practice. Like everything in life, it does not necessarily come magically cos we listen to a motivational speech, or cos we decided so, it does not necessary happen faster cos we want it to be faster. And sometimes it is just a blessing not to receive what we want when we want it.
It is like the 9 months it takes for babies to grow inside their mothers ‘wombs before they are born.. It is like the seed that takes years before becoming an apple. It is just like the 2 weeks that takes a caterpillar to become a butterfly.
Those are not happening faster just because we want them to. We do not take a seed out of the ground just to check how much they have grown. We do not say to a caterpillar “shame on you, you are late in becoming a butterfly”. We do not shout at our babies “you are so late, others are out in 5 months and you are still inside after 7 months”. Do these examples seem ridiculous? Well they are, the same with any other examples when we lose patience. Being patient does not mean we are lazy. It means we have trust that things will happen in due time. We have faith in the process. We know that good things take time. And that time is never long or short, it is just a way we as human measure it. It is stressful because we compare. Because we have expectations. Because we do not know better.
Now that we may sense the value of patience, how to practice it more to transform it into a different path. Awareness is the first step. Here are 5 things you may want to start notice to improve your patience:
• Notice what makes you impatient. All of us have patience for things we love. Mothers have tons of patience for their little babies. Artists have tons of patience to create their peace of art. Businessowners have tons of patience with their high level clients. Why? Because they don’t sense the time passing in the same way, and they enjoy that time taking care of their baby, allowing the art to be conceived, and growing their clients. Which means you already know you have patience for some things. What are the things that you have no patience for?
• Notice how do you feel when you lack patience. What are the original signs? Observe and be aware of the pattern. There is definitely one. And it is not about the time is taken. Go deeper and observe. What is pushing that impatience button? Knowing the cause is the best way to fix it, as we never fix the effect but the cause. And it is far better to prevent than to cure. Meaning that as soon as we know the things that are influencing our lack of patience we want to be aware of them. In coaching we call this the 6 influencers: it could be mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental or social. And maybe we go deeper on this on a future article. Yet we all have things that have the power to irritate us more. As soon as you start to feel irritated, have an awareness check. Which of the 6 influencers is challenging you right now?
• Notice what is the meaning you give to that event that makes you impatient. What is the meaning behind that specific duration? Why is that too long, why is that irritating, why is that frustrating? Or even better, what is holding you back to change the meaning of that duration. It may not magically become shorter; it may just not matter how long it takes. Remember the example with the 9 months of a baby waiting to be born?? Is the same, the time did not change, the meaning did. Do you give a meaning of losing time to that 9 months or a meaning of the needed time for the baby to grow healthy and be protected? What meaning do you give to time?
• Notice what do you focus on when you become impatient. Is it on the action itself, is it on the next steps, is it on the mistakes you have made? Are you in the past? Are you in the future? Are you in the now? And btw when in now it is not about: I want this to happen right now like a spoiled child. Is “what do I focus on right now?”. Am I focused on the action or on what is really happening or on the interpretation I gave to that, on the expectation of result I want to have, or on a frustration of this is not here yet. Are you focusing on what is not happing? Or are you focusing on what is happening?
• Notice what else you could do while waiting. What options do you have in front of you right now? While this is happening, while this is cooking, what other opportunities do I have? Maybe you will not reach a point where you will enjoy things you don’t but maybe just maybe you will move into a space where that time does not matter so much; and with some support and practice (coaching, meditation, sport for example) maybe you move to a space where time is just an illusion, invented by people to stress themselves out. Maybe all it is “is now” and maybe what comes out of it does not matter much, maybe it is just about the journey, not the destination, maybe it is just about allowing things to come to us, instead of being busy overdoing and not living. What if we go more into being than doing… maybe we are not waiting maybe we are just given an opportunity to grow.
The story of patience starts with awareness, noticing those 5 elements we mentioned above. As a result of awareness, we get clarity and we decide what time experience we may want to have more in life. When we know better, we do better.
Just remember: How do you know that the things you want so badly to happen right now, are the best for you right now? How are you allowing space for things to happen for you, instead of to you? How much time do you give to the unknown to manifest and transform into your real dreams and passions?