If you have the patience to take some slow and deep breaths and read this article, I promise you more mastery over impatience. This post is especially suited to those who are detail-oriented or (like me) confess perfectionist tendencies.
In an age, where we have disorienting-ly high control over information, it can get quite hard to accept those situations, where we feel a complete lack of control. Traffic jam is a classic example where we feel the most frustrated. Slow internet connection, unexpected power-cut and sometimes even an illness which we can’t wait to get over! Impatience is the result of our inability to feel helpless. When in a situation where our idea of the ideal outcome is very different from the existing reality, rather than feeling helpless, we exhibit irritation, restlessness and impatience. For some of us, this has become our dominant character-trait. Guess what? I have been one of this lot! I was born in a family where busyness, workaholism and outcome-orientation were the household gods. Like a sponge, I absorbed all of it! I share more about my journey in my TEDx Talk titled: ‘The Missing Piece in Our Relationships.’ This post is more like a quick cheat-code to overcome impatience.
Impatience has a momentum of restlessness and a need to speed-up thing. When we feel impatient, the first thing we do is that we lose our connection with our body and become trapped in our mind. Then begins our psychological chatter of complaint and resistance. Of course, the first thing to do in this situation is to come back to your body. How? With a nice and deep breath (7-8 seconds), notice your body, your feet, hands and the internal movement of sensations. Now simply pause and think through the following preferably with a pen and paper:
3 Mindful questions to ask yourself when feeling impatient: (Estimate time: 1-2 minutes)
- What is my ideal outcome in this situation?
- On a scale of 0-10, how much control do I have in this situation? What could be the (+/-) consequence of exercising my control. Alternatively, if I have almost no control, then my resistance is creating unnecessary tension for me. Either I innovate ways to expand my control or release my resistance to this situation. Choice: Either I stay attached to 1. or let go of 1.
- Am I being process-oriented or outcome-oriented? Process-orientation is rooted in the present moment which is the only way you can reclaim peace of mind and agency. Outcome-orientation is future-centric which can lead to stress unless managed with awareness.
Impatience is emotionally unintelligent use of energy unless used wisely. After answering these questions objectively, you will either feel very clear about your next action-step or feel light about letting go. Based on my experience, letting-go works the best most of the time. To quote Viktor E. Frankl, “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” It is my hope that the next time you are feeling impatient you exercise the choice of asking yourself these 3 mindful questions to empower yourself into emotional-mastery.
PS: The content of this post has been derived from one of my True Presence sessions, thanks to my coaching client who asked me about this relevant issue.
Recommended Resource: Mindfulness for Beginners in Plain English
Link to the Linkedin article here