Acquiring patience may take patience. Whether one suffers from a hot temper when dealing with children, or whether one simply can’t endure waiting in lines, one can learn to be more patient. Being more patient does require practice, and changing one’s mindset, because the more stressful a situation becomes, the more likely one is to become impatient. Only practice can help one become more patient during times of stress.
Being more patient generally requires learning some new skills. One of the tried and true methods is learning to count to ten, especially before responding to a child. In fact when we talk about children, we are usually using the word patience in the sense of not getting angry with kids when they challenge us, or when they delay accomplishing a task.
With kids, counting to ten can save hot words from bubbling to the surface by refocusing energy briefly. Further, if one can’t control temper in that time, count to twenty, or thirty.
Another way to approach this is to leave the room for perhaps a minute. Go stand outside and listen for birdcalls, or lie down on a bed in another room. Alternately, take a moment to look at the cutest picture of your child or children, as that often helps us remember that we love our kids even if they make us crazy.
The goal is to allow the brain to catch up to our flight or fight response to extreme emotion. Choosing a brief flight, mentally or physically, helps us assess what we want to do, instead being impatient. Our decision of how to handle a situation with an annoying child is then a reasoned instead of hasty decision. One can’t unsay words spoken in haste. Thus it is better to leave things unsaid until we regain control of ourselves.
In other circumstances, we may need to build patience while we are waiting in lines, in traffic, or at the doctor’s office. Many of us have tight schedules and waiting means our schedules may be off for the day. This can quickly result in anger, which may end up being expressed at other drivers, or employees.
One can alter one’s mindset regarding this “waiting time,” by considering it a gift. If one expects to wait, bring something fun to do. Bringing along Sudoku games, crossword puzzles, knitting, portable music or books on tape, can keep one patient and occupied during wait time. Waiting can disrupt scheduling, but may have hidden benefits. The doctor who keeps one waiting is likely doing so because he or she takes time with each patient.
One can also become more patient by expressing empathy for others. The other drivers waiting on the road with one are just as stuck. One is not alone, but accompanied by lots of people similarly circumstanced. A long line at the cash register means everyone is waiting. It is important to extend empathy to the person working the cash register. She is probably overworked, and has dealt with many people who were angry. Her feet probably hurt as much as yours do.
Instead of counting to ten, one can occupy one’s self, or use the moments of waiting for brief meditation, breathing exercises or prayer. Alternately, strike up a conversation with another person, as it may prove rewarding.
The greatest key to being more patient is to distract the mind from the waiting or annoyance if only briefly. Cultivating a more patient personality can be rewarding. Suppose a conversation results in a friendship or a great business connection, or just remains a way to observe other people. Alternately, being patient may help you become a better Sudoku player, finally knit that scarf, take a few minutes to relax, or become a better parent.