Last week, I jumped in my car and left the office right on time for an important meeting that was only 15 minutes away. I quickly realized traffic was really bad. It may have been because of construction on our Interstate or an accident. I don’t know. I tried an alternate route, but it was no different. I started getting agitated. I felt my body getting tense. But then, I did something I have rarely done in the past. I said to myself, “Okay. I’m going to be late. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it…it’s out of my control. I can either accept it, let them know I’ll be late, and get there when I get there or I can fight it, get upset, and impatiently weave my way in and out of traffic.” Fortunately, this time, I chose the former. I made a few calls on my cell and 45 minutes after departure, I arrived at my destination and it ended up working out just fine.
As I mentioned in another post, patience has always been One of My Biggest Struggles. If you find that you also struggle to be patient, here are 3 ways to help you practice patience.
Understand what triggers impatience.
Impatience often occurs when we don’t get what we want when we want it. There are two things that can trigger it. First, we get impatient when circumstances don’t conform to our expectations—long lines at the store, traffic jams, and flight delays can all be culprits. Second, impatience rears its ugly head when people don’t conform to our expectations. Just the other day, impatience was knocking at my door as I was in the line at the grocery store listening to a customer chat with the cashier instead of just getting out of there. I thought, “I’ve got things to do, doesn’t she realize that?! Why doesn’t she just move quickly through the line like I would?” This lady wasn’t being just like me and I was frustrated by it.
Recognize when you start feeling impatient.
As I mentioned, when I was in that traffic jam, I recognized that I was getting mentally agitated and physically tense. So when you feel it coming on, maybe a little “self-talk” might work. When I say self-talk, I’m not referring to some kind of weird thinking. I’m just saying that we should recognize the truth of what’s occurring, the truth of what we can or cannot do about it, and the truth of how we should respond.
Realize you aren’t in control.
Much of what I’m talking about here has to do with control. We want our children to behave a certain way at a certain time. We want our spouse to do what we want them to do when we want them to do it. But when they don’t behave like we want them to behave, we get impatient. In the last few years, I’ve come to the startling realization that I am not in control of most things in life and never was. I simply thought I was. That realization has helped me to be more patient, to let go, and to enjoy life more.
Do you struggle with patience? What have you done to become more patient? Leave a comment.