“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” ~ Joyce Meyer
“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales
There is something about December that led me to write an article about patience. We live in an impatient world and things feel even more pressing during the holiday season.
There is a riddle that says the definition of a millisecond is the time it takes between the light turning green and the person behind you honking their horn.
It seems like the more advanced we become the more the energy has sped up. This increase has made us feel like we are running on a hamster wheel and not really getting very far. No wonder we all feel impatient – we spend our lives feeling “behind”.
There was a time where you were able to spend long hours away from your phone, when you were not expected to respond to a text or email within minutes, and life had an ebb and flow to your busy times and your down times. With new technology our “down” times seem less and less “down”.
So how can you get yourself off this hamster wheel and go through life with more peace of mind? By increasing your level of patience.
By doing these techniques on small irritants at first you can rebuild your patience muscles to where you can face the direst emergency with calmness.
Slow Your Body
When we become impatient we actually have a physical reaction.
As you feel yourself becoming impatient, pause and take some deep, slow breaths. This act shifts your mental focus to your breath and it signals your body to slow down and relax. Your breathing is wired to your reptilian brain; so fast shallow breathing signals danger and slow deep breathing signals safety. It’s a long-ago system we were all hard wired with when we were being chased by saber-toothed tigers.
As you focus on your breath, do a count to 10 and with each number relax a portion of your body. Relax your shoulders, your neck, your hands, your lower back, etc. Scan for tension and let it go as you take a 10 count of deep breaths.
Begin moving and speaking more slowly. It’s the old adage, fake it until you make it. By intentionally slowing down physically first your feelings will follow suit.
Slow Your Mind
First of all, notice what your triggers are. Notice what thought you had that began your impatient cascade. This step is important because you can begin to see patterns.
Do you lose your patience when you think someone will think poorly of you? When you are embarrassed? When you feel overwhelmed?
As you figure out your triggers you can process them at another time when your emotions are not in fight-flight mode.
Also, by uncovering your inner thoughts you now have the ability to see them for what they are – thoughts, not reality. You have the power to attach to a thought or let it float by. When you don’t dig deep enough to find out your core thoughts then they have the power to cause a reaction.
If you are having difficulty isolating your core thoughts, use the 5 Why’s technique. This technique was the inspiration of Sakichi Toyoda, a Japanese Inventor and Industrialist who later founded the Toyota Car Corporation. When faced with a problem ask “Why” 5 times to dig deeper to uncover the root of the issue.
So, when you feel yourself starting to lose your cool, begin asking “Why” and “Why” again 4 more times. You might be totally surprised where this takes you!
Slow Your Reaction
When you relax your body and notice that your thoughts are causing a reaction you open up space to react differently. Instead of mindlessly snapping at someone or fuming inside, you now have an opportunity to react with laughter, love, or compassion.
This space allows the small stuff to drift away and the big stuff to be handled with much more grace. You are happier and those around you are happier.
Not a bad result from a couple of deep breaths and some self-reflection!
So, promise me the next time your hand moves to honk your horn, or you are getting more and more irritated with your co-worker for being late on a project, or your kid’s room is driving you to distraction you’ll take a few breaths (literally), calm down, look inside, and witness how your mind and body co-created this sensation and how you can un-create it just as easily.
Have a wonderful, happy, and peaceful holiday season.