Patience is one of those funny virtues always talks about. We talk about how we need more of it or why doesn’t someone else ever have any? It’s also one of those virtues that many a friend or client describes as out of reach, a sort of “If I only had it, my life would be better”. A sort of forlorn wish that seems to suggest that your either born with it or not.
The truth is, patience is a skill and like all skills, it takes practice. A common complaint I hear is, “Why can’t he/she just get to the point?”. Whether your reading this because of feedback from work, a wish to not blow up at your kids, to lower your blood pressure, or a way to be more supportive of your spouse, patience is a skill we can all work on to improve our daily lives and interactions.Starting this new skill is probably going to be the hardest part. And that is why I always recommend an accountability partner and some humor. Because your going to need it.
Support or a Sustainability Partner
First, what an sustainability partner is not. They are not your keeper. They do not call you out or keep a score or nag you about if you did what you promised today. Great, who needs that right? But, um, so, umm, who are they? What do they do then? A sustainability partner is someone who provides support and encouragement. Whether it’s through text or a high five or a “good job”, this person is someone you tell your victories and successes to. So when your sharing how you messed up on the road and screamed at the driver who cut you off, your sustainability partner says “That must have been so frustrating, I’m proud of you that you got half way home in traffic before you lost it. Good job!”
Practice means you are not perfect. The good news, no one else is either. So having someone to help you find the positives, the small victories, the small wins is important. Because if you are anything like the rest of us, you have a pretty harsh inner critic. And that inner critic is dead set on finding all the ways you failed that day, big or small. Having someone else who can hear the story and find the small win, or who helps you find it? That can often be the difference between quitting and continuing your journey to a more patient you. So whether it’s an online community, your co-worker in the next cubicle, or your spouse, find your cheerleader.
It’s time to Laugh Out Loud
Now for humor. This one is the most important. When we are impatient, we all start to lose our ability to laugh and the smallest set back or delay becomes magnified and all important. Finding the humor in a situation is key. Hence, the picture. It’s how I feel after a blow up and it helps me let it go. What’s your picture? Meme? Quote?
One of the best examples I was ever given was from a woman who used to have intense road rage. She was always running late and whenever another driver did something stupid to slow her down, she just lost it. Most of us can relate to a moment of feeling of rage or impatience on the road or in a parking lot. So, how did she overcome this? Well, she found a silly song from her daughter. To the melody of this children’s song she sang the words “I’ll get there when I get there,” over and over again until she calmed down. As she related this to me, her shoulders relaxed and she started to grin. As she put it, “I feel incredible silly even talking about it but that silliness just takes away the impatience, the entire melody is incompatible with impatience and anger”. Whether it’s a joke, or a goofy face, or a an image of the person frustrating you in a kangaroo suit, the sillier and funnier, the better.
So the next time you start wishing for more patience, remember to smile and start practicing. And if you would like to read more, here are some great resources that are more specific.
Here is a fabulous podcast from The Good Dad Project on maintaining your cool with your kids:
A great blog for practicing our new skills at work: Patience, Samsung Friends
Great information and resources about the link between impatience and your health: Why Impatience May Hurt Your Heart
Let us know if you have a great resource or story on building patience into your life. Because we all need a little more and a little help!