Learning how to be patient has been one of the most challenging experiences in my life. In many ways, it’s even been harder than learning how to hold my breath for over 3 minutes.
In this post, I’ll go over some of the ways I learned to stop being on such a short fuse. It won’t be a long one because if you’re reading this, you probably won’t have the patience to read a long post anyway. But, I’ll do my best to provide you with useful information based on my first hand experience.
What is patience?
I know this seems like a silly question, but it’s actually a very important question to consider if you want to learn how to be patient. I’m sure all of us understand what the word means but do you really know what it actually is?
Anger, which shares a very close relationship with our level of patience, is an emotion. Patience, on the other hand, is not an emotion but is more of an acquired trait or skill.
They have a very close relationship in that when one goes up, the other comes down.
What makes this differentiation so important to is that it allows for a better understanding about the subject of patience on a slightly more fundamental level. Let me explain.
Because anger is something that is inherently part of our humanity, none of us can really get rid of it. So when most people learn to deal with their anger, they really do it by learning how to channel their emotions in a healthier way.
However, many people make the wrong assumption that learning to deal with their anger all of a sudden means they find themselves getting angry at fewer things and end up becoming a “less angry person”.
While this does hold some truth to it, the little truth it does hold, actually isn’t all that useful.
The only way for most people to become “less angry” is by learning more about a topic that’s causing their anger, but this is another conversation for a later date.
What learning to control your anger really means is practicing a skill that will help you directly deal with your seemingly uncontrollable bursts of anger.
By understanding that patience as a skill, we can directly make the connection that it is something we can work on and gain some form of mastery over like any other skill.
Patience is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset,” a definition with several important components. Patience is also a skill. We can work on increasing our ability to be patient and engage in practices to become a more patient person.The Skill of Patience Learning to accept daily frustrations – Thomas Barbian, Ph.D. | Columbia Metropolitan
4 steps in practicing patience
- Learn to catch yourself when you become impatient
The first step in learning to be more patient is knowing when you’re becoming irritated. The first step towards any solution is always just by acknowledging the problem and calmly figuring out how to fix it. You can’t expect to change yourself if you don’t even know when you’re acting up.
You can learn to catch yourself being impatient by repeating the type of behaviours you consider to be your normal reactions to stressful/annoying situations. For me, I start talking loudly and at a faster speed than I normally talk when my patience starts to chip away.
Another great way to catch yourself is by using words of affirmation to consciously remind yourself that you’ve been through similar things in the past and you got through them fine. Remind yourself that you’ve done it before and you can do it again.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation you’ve never come across, take some time to think about similarly annoying situations and about how you got over those. More often than not, I found that most of the situations I find myself losing patience in share a lot of common traits.
2. Take note of the times you find yourself getting triggered
When trying to improve any aspect of life, I find it a general best practice to always keep score. If I don’t have notes to look at and review my past outbreaks, I end up forgetting they ever happened and ultimately find myself back on square 1.
I find that if I choose to be lazy and skip over this step, I just end up making more work and trouble for myself at the end of the day.
Think of it like a self-audit that you can use towards learning more about your emotional state of mind.
3. Use your creativity to work on patience
Aside from your closest family and friends, you know yourself the best. So, you should be able to come up with a list of ways that work for you to practice being patient.
I found that a lot of the methods on dealing with stress, anger, and the lack of patience that I read about online didn’t work for me. So, I had to get creative and think of finding solutions for myself.
Now, I’ve got several methods that I find work really well for me like screaming at the top of my lungs into my pillow or reading a funny novel. Whatever floats your boat as long as you’re not hurting anyone else or causing damage to things.
In the past, I had teachers who dealt with their stress using a Staples Easy Button. Yes, those big red buttons that yelled “That was easy.”. Whenever he had a lot of stress and work piling, he’d smack that button as hard as he could and it looked like all of his problems would just wash away.
…the “that was easy” message serves as a source of levity and stress relief. Hit this Staples Easy Button whenever staff members do a great job, or use it to help cope with stress during high-pressure projects.Staples
4. Be patient
Learning to be patient requires a lot patience. It probably won’t be something you’ll master by the end of day but you can definitely start working on it. The sooner you fully commit yourself to making a change, the sooner you actually start changing.
If you feel upset and think that you’re not moving forward, give yourself some slack and be understanding to yourself. Having been in the situation myself, I know how it feels like you’re efforts have been dragging you backwards instead of pushing your forward.
The more you try to force yourself into changing when you aren’t ready, the easier it becomes for you to take yourself into the wrong direction.
You might just need more time if you feel like you’re not making any progress. Our minds need to comprehend our situation(s) and it isn’t always a quick process. More often than not, it’s a pretty long and winding road towards progress.