How to Be More Patient, Even When You’re Stressed
Impatience can be a beast. Picture a moment where you’re in a hurry or pressed for time, and things don’t go your way. For example, you’re already late for a meeting, and then you get stuck in a traffic jam. Or you’ve got thirty minutes to get a bunch of work things done, and your printer breaks down.
You get the picture! If you’re like most, in all of these moments, you’ll likely start to feel the stress surge through your body, coupled with a deep sense of impatience. And once the impatience kicks in, it can take over and cause some pretty crappy behavior.
I know all about this! I can be very impatient at times, and it’s usually about silly, small things – like when I’m rushing from meeting to meeting and the person walking in front of me is slow, or when I’m standing in line waiting for a food order. I’ve noticed that I can be particularly impatient when I’m traveling, especially when I’m tight for time. From my Uber ride to the airport, and then through security lines, sometimes my impatience level increases. I can get really irritable and, although I hate to admit this, I might even be snippy to the service people I’m interacting with.
Argh, I know this isn’t great! And this is exactly why I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, why I’m working to change my behavior, and why I’m writing about it now.
We all know that being impatient doesn’t serve us or the people around us (especially if we’re being rude). In fact, being impatient only further exacerbates our stress levels, which feeds into harming our mental and physical health. When we’re calm, we make better choices. And you know that I’m all about making better choices in life!
So how do you work on being more patient so this can help bring your stress levels down? I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned.
Impatience is About Control
First, it’s important to understand why you can sometimes be impatient, particularly in stressful situations. Impatience is often about control or, more specifically, about needing to be in control of situations and outcomes. In other words, impatience is a manifestation of frustration when you can’t control a situation.
This mainly happens because you want to feel safe. It’s a natural tendency to try control (or over-control) circumstances when you feel like you’re in danger, in order to rationalize your behavior, actions and more. For example, I sometimes will micro-manage Uber drivers in attempt to get to my destination more quickly, even though it’s my fault that I’m running late in the first place. But here’s a key life lesson I’m learning: we can’t govern every situation or outcome – it’s simply not possible!
Take a Pause!
You would’ve heard me talk about the power of the pause in my previous blogs and videos. Taking a moment to pause is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling activated! Why? Pausing will push you to slow down and bring yourself into the moment, which is critical to help you to better track what you’re thinking. And when you do this, you’ll be better able to acknowledge that you’re annoyed at what’s happening around you, and that you’re being impatient.
Tune Into Your Body
When I feel waves of impatience and stress come over me, I push myself to tune into what my body is saying. I talk a lot about this in my book The Authenticity Principle, where I share that the body is a guidepost to how we’re reacting or feeling about a situation.
Whenever you hear the voice in your head start to rage because of impatience, you’ll want to immediately tune into where it’s physically showing up for you. Why? Because if you can calm your body, it’ll help you to calm your mind.
For example, when I hear messages in my head saying, “Why is this taking so long?” I pay attention to what’s happening in my body. In those moments, I’ll often feel my shoulders tense up, my face get hot, and a I feel heaviness on my chest. I will then take either deep breaths, sending energy to those regions of my body, or I’ll do some stretches right then and there to release the tension. Essentially, by tuning into what’s happening in your body, you can bring yourself into more of a grounded state, and then have a more thoughtful response and reaction to a stressful situation.
Use Self-Coaching to Release the Stress You’re Feeling
Self-coaching is an amazing strategy that you can use in moments when you need assurance or a pep-talk. You simply tell yourself the kind, compassionate and reassuring things a beloved would share with you. For example, in moments of great impatience and stress, I will tell myself, “You’re safe. You’re not going to be late.”
One thing that I’ve found to be extremely useful is to plan your words of affirmation in advance so that they’ll be ready for you in the stressful moments. The beauty of self-coaching is that you can do it anywhere and at any time and, with practice, it’s easy to improve at.
I have found these stress management strategies to be really helpful when I’m feeling impatient! Not only am I less activated in stressful moments, but I’m also kinder to the people around me.
Finally, remember that life is so much better when we feel less stressed and impatient. This will make your self-work worth it!
The next time you find yourself feeling stressed or impatient, what will do you do to manage that moment? What will you to to tune into your body? What are the words you will use to coach yourself to better manage your moment of stress?