Are you thrown off by unforeseen complications? Are you frantic to meet deadlines or goals? Do you hate to wait? Are you a slave to the clock? Do you lose it when your computer IT guy takes too long to diagnose and fix a problem? Do you find yourself antsy and frustrated when other people go at a slower pace? Are you unable to sit or stand still and constantly fidgeting?
Well, the price you pay is huge. First and foremost, your hurried pace and unease rob you of the ability to savor the moment. Consequently you rarely feel peace. Second, you refuse to accept that some things unfold in a time frame that is out of your control. Third, your controlling and abrasive manner pushes other people away. This often backfires when others react to your behavior by intentionally slowing things down. Fourth, you often lose your connection with people or situations and get consumed by your own frustration, anxiety, and myopic reality.
It's usually the case that one of our early caretakers (aka parents) had the "impatience gene" that we inherited. Impatience is a fear-anger attitude. We're freaked out about time issues and are controlled by time. Therefore, we are angry because we have unrealistic expectations about how long a given activity "should" take and feel upset when it inevitably takes longer than we planned.
How to Deal with Your Impatience
If you're tired of your impatience and the havoc it is wreaking within yourself and with those around you, there is a remedy. Surrender. Give up. Turn it over. Accept that things go at a different pace than you'd prefer.
When you begin to feel that familiar antsiness, the first thing to do is pause, step back and take a few measured breaths, while repeating, ”Stop. Breathe. Relax.”
As I said, the underlying emotions behind impatience are fear and anger. To dispel the fear you need to move the pure energy out of your body. As silly as it sounds, shiver and quiver. Tremble like a dog at the vet. Up the spine. Out your arms, legs, and hands. Do it hard, fast and with abandon for literally 90 seconds or until you start laughing. If you practice this whenever you feel impatient, you will notice a feeling of calm overtaking your body.
After moving the physical energy by shivering, it's important to think constructive thoughts about the situation, such as:
* Everything is all right.
* Everything will be okay.
* This isn't life or death.
* Life goes at a different pace than I’d like.
How to Deal with Your Anger
To deal with your anger, excuse yourself, move to a secure location, and push against a wall, growl into a pillow, or stomp your feet to release the hot anger energy. If this isn't your thing, try repeating to yourself over and over, "People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be."
Focusing on the reality will bring you to a more centered space. Only then can you look within, and make another choice besides exhibiting your impatience. You’re in a better position to restore perspective and find the constructive thing to say and do about yourself.
Maybe the best thing to do is nothing. While waiting, try repeating a constructive thought. Maybe enjoy the scenery. Maybe hum a tune. Possibly you need speak up lovingly with something like: "I need to be at work right now, and I'll give you a call later this morning." If you decide to speak up, whatever you say, make sure it’s NOT something snarky or critical about them, but something about yourself -- your "I".
Here's an example of a client overcoming his impatience because his wife over-researched any decision they had to make.
First I appreciated the husband, saying how wonderful it was that he was looking at his half of the relationship to break the cycle rather than insisting his wife is the problem. Then I suggested that he observe how his impatience usually played out. He said he would roll his eyes whenever she headed to her computer for more information on a topic. I said that instead of his usual reaction to his wife’s need to know "everything", he needed to determine a constructive opposite to substitute at that moment. If he truly accepted that she feels more comfortable with all the facts, a possible substitute such as taking a deep breath and reminding himself, “This won’t matter a year from now,” or “I don’t like that she takes so much time to gather information, but I like the final decisions we make.”
I reminded him that not getting impatient takes some time, so to cut himself some slack when he relapsed. Additionally it seemed important to tell his wife that he was trying to change his negative reactions and genuinely thank her when she acts more spontaneously. I put out that he could experience copious personal rewards when he gave up his eye-rolling, and maybe even inspire her to make some changes herself.
The Benefits Of Getting The Upper Hand Over Impatience
The benefits of getting the upper hand over impatience are that you avoid the feelings of disconnection with friends and family. In addition, others will feel more comfortable around you. You'll enjoy your environment more and have time to smell the roses. Furthermore, you'll be able to maintain a healthier perspective about what is really important. You will feel more love and peace as you begin to realize you're not the center of the universe and that people and things move at their own pace.
When we hold on to our belief about how things should be unfolding, we're apt to miss out on enjoying the present moment. It’s much better to appreciate what today offers, rather than trying to engineer a certain future outcome.
©2018 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Watch video: Shiver to Express Fear Constructively (with Jude Bijou)