Published Categorized as A look at one emotion

Impatience is an emotion that I would not put up there with the really big ones! It tends not to last for too long, but it’s an agitating feeling that is uncomfortable and we can benefit from learning to manage it well. The cluster of physical and mental sensations we get when we’re impatient can include a sense of urgency that makes us want to move or fidget, a heady drive of unwaveringly focus on the ‘goal’, a restlessness of wanting to ‘get at’ sorting whatever is making you impatient, usually some irritation, frustration and a bit of the stress-y pressure caused by adrenalin. And sometimes it’s a need for something to be sorted and ‘bagged’ to alleviate any fear that it might not happen or might be completed incorrectly.

Impatience’s discomfort lies in how it makes us dissatisfied with the speed at which something is going, how long something is going on for or how someone is doing something so that it doesn’t meet our standards. We become hooked on our expectations of how long something should take, how quickly we can move on or how exactly something should be done. We can get wound-up by this perceived obstruction to our desired outcome and can sometimes start looking to accuse or blame others for things not panning out as we expect them to. This impatience can make us react in ways that cause others upset, make a situation worse or, counter-to-what-we-want, actually hinder progress, even if we are in a rush for good reason. It’s OK to want something to ‘hurry up’ but if we upset others in our urge for this to happen, we’re not managing this emotion well.

Our lives tend to be so frantic and busy. I suspect this has impact on how easily impatient some of us become as we try to fit everything in. Queues are inconvenient usually because of the enforced boredom and obstruction to our goal (‘wasted life!’), waiting for necessary information can be annoying (‘I can’t get on!’), delays are added annoyance because they are unexpected (‘That’s time I didn’t think I would be using for waiting!’) or waiting for something to finish because we want to move on to the next thing can be agitating (‘I hate being kept here!’).

Applying patience though is about waiting more graciously. It’s about acceptance and resignation to the reality in front of you. It’s about allowing others to take the time they might need, even if that is longer than you would take. It’s about firstly noticing the impatience rising and then stepping back, self-calming and accepting the pace forced upon the situation by whatever limitations there are. Many times expressing any frustration rarely speeds things up. Applying more detached thought about any situation is far more likely to find solutions – if there are any to be found.

It’s also about appreciating the moment, of course, whatever is happening! After all, we do only really ever have this moment, so learning to make the most of it is a worthy goal. Even in a queue, there are things to look at, unrelated-to-the-queue, thoughts to be had or even the blissful calm of the moment if you can tune into it.

So for me, addressing impatience is a re-framing thing that’s about shifting focus from everything that’s wrong or how slow people are to accepting things are not going to go at your anticipated rate and that this is not as awful as your agitation is leading you to think it is. I sometimes see myself becoming impatient and I have to consciously take a mental step-back and shift my perspective. I have to tell myself that ‘everything will be OK’ and simply breathe!