Patience is one attitude that improves through pain. You want to be more patient? Ask for it and you’ll get all kinds of opportunities to practice it. So how can we gain more of this difficult attitude without asking for more opportunities? Practice patience on our everyday annoyances. Here are a few tips.
It’s not all about me.
Why are we all in such a hurry? Why do we tend to “lose it” when we’re rushed? I enjoy cooking most of the time but you add a time limit such as my daughter needing to eat by a certain time and Ms. Hyde comes to visit. I have learned to not hurry, to plan for uncertainties but living with others often pops that proverbial balloon. Anger, frustration and impatience are all spelt the same way P-R-I-D-E. It says I’m better than you. Unchecked that attitude will always bring a fall. I know I’m tired of falling so I learned to make adjustments. To quench my dinnertime impatience and frustration I began making dinner in the morning and it’s ready to heat it up later.
Don’t hold everyone else accountable to some unattainable standard. People will make us late and babies will make messes. Life happens. To quench that impatient attitude try leaving earlier, starting a project sooner or doing less in a given amount of time – and the big challenge for me – delegate.
Discover the triggers and patterns that fuel impatience.
Discover the root of impatience then it will easier to change that behavior. Are there fears at work? Disappointments you’re trying to avoid? Are there certain circumstances, situations or people who trigger an impatient attitude? Keeping a journal may be effective in understanding our triggers and patterns of impatience, anxiety and frustration. Be prepared and learn to expect the unexpected then you’ll be less likely to be thrown off. When you discover your triggers and patterns start attacking the small things and break down the mountains into more manageable pieces. Practice ahead of time with visualization seeing yourself in a stressful situation where your patience is being worn thin. Picture yourself reacting in a peaceful, patient way.
Change your mental attitude:
Of course changing how the mind works isn’t easy and it’s never ending task but we can learn new behaviors. Luckily there are strategies that can help improve an impatient mindset.
- Relax: take a deep breath and give your mind a few seconds of relief. Count to ten. Take a moment to meditate.
- If it’s out of your control let it go. This of course may seem impossible but it will be helpful to develop healthy distractions. Be prepared with something that will occupy your mind and body.
- Learn a language or memorize a bible verse. I kept small cards with me to practice Spanish as a distraction while waiting; now I keep reading materials in my phone.
- Play a game, on your phone or bring actual cards with you. I play a one-handed solitaire game.
- Listen to music or watch a video on your phone. You can find plenty of humor on YouTube
- Make it physical: Practice muscle toning exercises that can be done anywhere. Tightening and relaxing muscles relieves stress.
- Give yourself a time out. When my grandson gets overcome with impatience or frustration and throws a fit he goes in time out. After a few minutes he’s a different little boy.
This too shall pass.
Keep in mind it will take time and waiting will always be a part of your life. How we wait determines who we become – stressed out or a mind of peace. Anything worth having is worth waiting for so keep practicing a patient attitude. Keep in mind what really matters: peace of mind, forgiveness, kindness and love.
If all else fails – Laugh! It’s hard to feel stressed or anxious with a big grin and a bouncing belly.
Consequences of Impatience
Impatience can cause many mental and physical problems: stress, worry, relational problems and some of these can have long-term consequences. Impatience has brought about some of the biggest blunders in the Bible that still affect us today. Here are just a few of the big ones:
- Israel wandering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. Not waiting on God’s timing resulted in a 40 year road trip that should have taken eleven days. And even within this story there are many examples of impatience. Moses’ impatience kept him from entering the promised land. (Exodus through Deuteronomy)
- Abraham & Sarah, not waiting on God’s timing, chose to have a baby with another woman instead of waiting on God. This resulted in the birth of two nations that are still at odds today. (Genesis 15-16,21)
- Esau sold his birthright for a moment of hunger. He lost everything because of impatience. (Genesis 25)
- And let’s not forget Adam and Eve. There impatience for knowledge doomed the rest of humanity to a world of pain. (Genesis 1-3)
When you’re feeling impatient just say to yourself “It’s not all about me.”
Books on a Patient Attitude
The Power of Faithful Focus by Less Hewitt & Charles Self
Imperative people: Those who much be in control by Les Carter
Faith by Phil Pringle
Bible verses to meditation to overcome impatience:
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (ESV)
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:25 (ESV)
Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act! Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you, giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed.
Psalm 37:34 (NLT)
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil
2 Timothy 2:24 (ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
Galatians 5:22 (ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience
Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
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