You may have heard the saying (or have said), “I am losing my patience!!”. What does this saying around losing our patience actually mean? If patience is described as “waiting calmly for what I want”, losing patience means we are no longer calm, and no longer waiting. We have given into our impulses (our thoughts and feelings) and have now reacted in a certain way that we often regret.

Patience is not something you have to be born with. Anyone can work to become more patient—all it takes is a few small consistent strategies practised over a period of time.

So, What Behaviours Can I Practise to Increase Patience?A Women practising mindfulness

Practise mindfulness. Try to be in the present moment with your difficult thoughts, feelings, and situation without judging.

If you have not practised mindfulness before, a great place to start is to download the SMILING MIND app. It is free and has great programs like ‘An intro to mindfulness’ and ’21 day sleep program’.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So if the goal seems too big, make it smaller. If ten minutes of mindfulness practice is too much, cut it back to five. If doing it daily is unrealistic, perhaps do it every second or third day, or weekly. Ask yourself: “On a scale of zero to ten, where ten is ‘I’ll definitely do this no matter what’ and zero is ‘There is absolutely no chance I’ll ever do this’ – then how likely are you to actually do this?” If you score less than seven, best to change the goal to something smaller and easier.

What Triggers us to React Impatiently?

Triggers are situations, thoughts, and feelings that immediately precede ‘losing our patience’. Most of us have common triggers that set off feelings of impatience, and they often come from recurring events. This could be anything from noisy neighbours every night to kids not tidying away their shoes after school.

A Doctor Thinking

So What Else Can We Do?

Practise accepting your current circumstances. This may mean being stuck in traffic or stuck in a job you are not currently enjoying. If the situation you are facing is a lot bigger than these examples, think of it as a ‘difficult season’. Seasons have beginnings, middles, and ends. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to influence your situation in a positive way or change what can be changed.  It only means accepting your experience in the moment for exactly what it is – even if it’s unpleasant.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. (For example, my co-worker isn’t purposely trying to miss his deadlines; he has a lot on his plate.) Remember, whatever’s triggering your impatience many times isn’t about you. For example, the cash register didn’t break just so that your grocery-buying would take longer, or the train isn’t packed this morning just so that you can’t get a seat.

What are Some of the Rewards of Practising the Skills that Can Help Build Patience?

Practising and becoming a more patient human being, has been linked in research to an overall higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, having more self control and even having a greater ability to pursue and achieve goals.

A quote by Sarah Schniter, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, highlights some of the benefits of being patient, “When you’re patient, you’re calmer, so you’re able to keep persisting when it’s difficult and you’re not prey to goal disengagement.  You’re able to know when to act and when to conserve energy.”

What are Some Other Changes I Can Make, Including in My Environment?

When you’re feeling rushed or pressured, conscientiously slow down. You don’t have to feel stressed or hurried to get ‘things done’. Know that you can choose to slow down. There is great value in letting go of hurry and embracing doing things slowly and being present in the moment.

We all have goals to accomplish, destinations to reach and to do lists to tick off – but slowing down to enjoy the journey can be the most rewarding part of it all.

To Finish Off…

When you start practising mindfulness, have a space in your house where you can do this effectively. You may add some candles, salt lamps or add music to help create an environment that helps support your practise. If you don’t have the space to do this, practising mindfulness outside can be a great alternative.

Give yourself a time out – literally.

Go outside for 10 minutes, take a quick walk around the block, or simply walk away from the cause of your impatience.

This quick break can help you clear your head and approach the issue with problem-solving logic rather than unhelpful impatience.

This sounds a bit ironic but be patient with your patience.

Know that you will make mistakes, become impatient, and struggle. Know that one week of trying strategies to make you more patient won’t magically transform you. It takes time to form a habit, and the only way to achieve your goal is to simply keep trying.

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