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Eight Ways to Increase Your Patience Until it Comes Naturally

Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash

October 16, 2022

Are you the most impatient person you know?

Do you have a thirty second fuse before you lose your mind?

I am one of the most impatient people I know.

At the same time, I’m not a total jerk about it. I can mostly keep my feelings of impatience to myself. My crazies are more internal than external. However, my life partner may beg to differ. He’s seen both.

Help is here! I’ve discovered some patience hacks to help you get through life without alienating too many people until you develop the real thing.

1. Give yourself credit.

You already exhibit patience in certain situations. You’ve dealt with colds, headaches, crap weather, and not winning at everything. That’s patience. So acknowledge it — you are not hopeless!

I am relatively patient with babies, mosquitoes, and the rain because none of them can be held responsible for annoying me. Find the things you have learned to tolerate with little or no resistance. They’ll give you clues about how to handle the stuff you haven’t figured out how to deal with yet.

2. Practice with life’s minor unavoidable irritations.

Begin small and build up. Got an itch? Don’t scratch it and see what happens.

Phone acting up? Instead of throwing it across the room, set it down and walk away. Do something else, reminding yourself that you literally can live without it for five minutes while you calm down.

3. Use Humor.

When somebody who should know better says or does something to offend you, remember that you’re not bothered by the fact that they have a different shoe size than yours. Why should you be bothered by the fact that they have a different size ego? Let them say what they will.

Taking them personally can be a particular Achilles heel for me. I have a person in my life who never seems to say anything nice. And every time I see him now, I remember that it’s okay that his shoe size is different than mine. I don’t have to spend any more time that that dwelling on his behavior.

4. Imagine new outcomes.

For a week, spend a few minutes every day exploring what patieence might look like if you had it.

Create scenarios that have or might happen in your day-to-day life, and imagine responding in ways that would leave you feeling proud of yourself. I’m working on this with the person I mentioned in number 4 above. Humor and kicking my partner under the table seem to be working well.

5. Stop asking why life is so hard.

Ask, instead, how can I get along better with what life hands me? At first blush, this might not make sense. But think about it. When you’re railing against what life has handed you, you have zero patience or acceptance of what’s happening.

When I had emergency spine surgery many years ago, friends asked, “How could this happen to you? You take such good care of yourself.” My response was, “Why not me? None of us is getting out of here without scars. Give me a year and I’ll beat you at fast-walking!”

6. Change your self-image.

If you see yourself as irritable and impatient, your experience will tend to follow that image.  So, instead, tell  yourself that you are confident, tolerant, and not easily disturbed.

Next time you feel the tension in your body rising, use the phrase, “Under-react, under-react, under-react.” Repeat that often enough, and you will reshape your life.

7. Use annoyances as meditations.

Pick one minor annoyance that makes you nuts. Maybe it’s the neighbor’s dog barking at 8 am or the people who go crazy honking their car horns every time somebody doesn’t move fast enough.

Use it as a meditation. I tried it when I had to have several MRIs in a row. When the hammering sound started, I let my mind roll with it rather than resisting it. I was surprised that an hour and fifteen minutes had passed.

8. Be realistic.

No matter how long you’ve practiced patience, drop the idea that one day you’ll achieve perfect equanimity. Look for improvement, and with practice, you’ll catch yourself and work with impatience rather than let it work you over.

The other day I asked my partner, who has infinitely more patience than I do, for help with my acting up laptop. As the minutes passed, I found myself feeling more and more impatient. And rather than spitting out, “This laptop is stupid!” as I’ve done in the past, I said, “I don’t want to spend any more time on it this morning — let’s come back to it later.”

To sum things up.

  • Give yourself credit.
  • Practice with life’s minor unavoidable irritations.
  • Use humor.
  • Imagine new outcomes.
  • Stop asking why life is so hard.
  • Change your self-image.
  • Use annoyances as meditations.
  • Be realistic.

Decide daily to practice patience with at least one of the above hacks when life hands you something you don’t want. I can guarantee there will be more than one opportunity in any given day!

With humor, practice, and a mindset and attitude that there isn’t anything that life hands you that you can’t handle, there won’t be!

Much love,