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 an appointment, and then you get stuck in traffic. Or you’ve got thirty minutes to get a bunch of emails out, and your computer crashes.
You get the picture! In these moments, if you’re like most people, 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. I can get really irritable and, although I hate to admit this, I might even be snippy sometimes 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 to 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 an 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 may have heard me talk about the power of the pause (and if you haven’t, check out this video on how taking a pause can transform the way you communicate!). Taking a moment to pause is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling activated!
Pausing will push you to slow down and bring yourself into the moment, which is critical for helping you to better track what you’re thinking. When you do this, you’ll be able to acknowledge that you’re annoyed at what’s happening around you and recognize that you’re being impatient — acknowledging this then helps you consciously change your behavior.
Tune Into Your Body
When I feel waves of impatience and stress come over me, I do my best to tune into what my body is telling me. The body is a guidepost to how we’re reacting or feeling about a situation, especially if we are living in an embodied state. By living in an embodied state, we can better feel the sensations in our bodies which will help us to better settle and calm ourselves during feelings of impatience, stress and more.
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 gets hot, and I feel this heaviness on my chest. I will then either take 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 a more 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.” It can be extremely useful to plan these 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. It’s a great tool for building your confidence and overcoming your fears because it’s all about taking your power back!
These stress management strategies can be really helpful when you’re feeling impatient! Not only will they help you feel less activated in stressful moments, but you’ll also be more conscious of being kinder to the people around you.
So the next time you find yourself feeling stressed or impatient, what will you do to manage that moment? What will you do to tune into your body? What are the words you will use to coach yourself to better manage your moment of stress?
Remember that life is so much better when we feel less stressed and impatient.
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