Learning to be patient is the perfect follow up to practicing acceptance, because if you can’t accept your reality as it is, you will never have patience.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, patience is the ability to accept delay, suffering, or annoyance without complaining or becoming angry. In other words, if you’re patient, you tolerate things that bother you. If you’re impatient, you get all worked up and bent out of shape, because you’re not getting what you want, right this second. Watch out, World! Meltdown imminent!
Learning to be Patient: St. Monica of Hippo, the Roman Catholic patron saint of mothers.
And patience. Go figure! (image courtesy of wikimedia)
Impatience Example #1: Every December, I order a bunch of Christmas presents on Amazon US and use my German credit card to pay for them. When the German credit card company notes suspicious activity (ordering things in the US when I live in Germany, for example), they don’t call or text or email me. They just deactivate my card. So the 30 minutes I just spent on Amazon is now all for naught. I can’t buy Christmas gifts for my US friends and family, which is ALL my friends and family, until I get on the phone, navigate the German language, non-human customer service menu, and, eventually, get someone who speaks English and can reactivate my card. By the time I hang up the phone, my heart has shrunk two sizes, and I’m spewing profanity. Let the holiday season begin!
Impatience Example #2: I ask Emmy to put on her pajamas and brush her teeth a full 30 minutes before her bedtime. “Brush your teeth, please.” And then 20 minutes before. “Em, go brush your teeth.” And, 15 minutes before. “Have you brushed your teeth yet?!” Finally, 7 minutes before bedtime, I start to get all mean mommy and yell, “Why haven’t you brushed your teeth?! Go do it. NOW!” She starts to cry and hands me the card she’s been working on for the last 23 minutes. The card with hearts and flowers that says, “Mommy, I love you.” Way to go, Mom.
Impatient Silke is not exactly (or even remotely close to) My Best Self. For one, she’s not very nice, and she’s not very calm. In fact, she’s loud, rude, and highly stressed. Also, I’m pretty sure no one likes her. So, why do I allow her to come out and interact with others when clearly she needs a muzzle and possibly a restraining order?
As I already mentioned, impatience emerges when you don’t get your wants met immediately. Your self-importance inflates automatically, and you react out of the emotion you’re feeling – frustration, annoyance, or anger, because you’re not getting what you want. The injustice! Behavior born from frustration, annoyance, or anger typically isn’t mindful, thoughtful or considerate. It is usually regrettable, however.
Given that both of my examples are just 2 from a long, long list, this month, I’m learning to be patient.
To work on developing patience, I will continue to work on acceptance. Specifically, I will be more aware of the physical manifestation of my impatience. When I start to feel frustration surface, I will focus on what is happening in my body. I will name it. ‘Feeling tension in my shoulders, breathing more rapidly.’ I will respond to the impatience with compassion. ‘Breathe deeply. Put yourself in a time-out for 5 minutes and chill.’ I’m hoping that these techniques will help me to stay slightly more balanced and peaceful.
Patience is a virtue after all. And if Monica of Hippo could endure with dignity for her entire life, well, I can at least try to do it for one month.