Patience helps us keep calm in the face of disappointment, deal better with stress and minimize suffering. It allows us to exhibit greater empathy, generosity and compassion.
Our amygdala, is responsible for feeling out danger and regulating emotions. Yet this almond-shaped set of nerve tissues is unable to identify if we are in true or perceived danger. Situations that are not life-threatening may set us off and create an internal response to threats or in this case, impatience.
In order to increase patience, we start by determining what triggers us. Then address the internal dialogue around it. This gives us back control of the situation, interrupts the cycle and move us out of fight-or-flight mode.
By regaining control, you can assess if the story you have around this situation can be reframed. It may be as simple as retelling it from a new perspective, or creating a positive dialogue or mantra around it; one that allows you to shift out of negative patterns and back into the safe (aka patience) zone.
Here’s are two examples to consider:
First, recognize what makes you feel annoyance. Take a step back and look at it objectively. Does standing in line for 10 minutes feel inconvenient? Sure. Is it a life-or-death threat? Probably not. You now have control. Use a mantra like “This will soon be over and I probably won’t remember it” instead of “I can’t believe I have to stand in this line.” A simple redirect from suffering to tolerable.
Second, take a co-worker that talks too much or is disruptive. Is your level of aggravation (aka impatience) around this going to save you from that feeling that roaring bear is chasing you? Definitely not. Now shine a light on this as it relates to a larger story. Rather than focus on the irritation, think about a time you were the one to frustrate others. By being compassionate or graceful we diffuse the impatience and can personally grow. Reframing allows the experience to (re)connect us to a bigger picture and move us out perceived danger into a calmer state.
Where can you practice more patience this week?