By Elina from On The Same Time Zone
Patience: The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. (The Oxford Dictionary)
Patience is not something that comes easily to many of us, yet it is generally viewed as a virtue and a great skill to have. These days we are so used to many services and goods being available on demand, when we need them, that sometimes even the slightest delay in getting what we want can cause big frustration.
It is however possible to work on improving our patience. After all, it is a skill like everything else. As the November focus in the Trigg Life Planner is Patience, here are few thoughts on how to become more accepting when finding ourselves in situations that do not go exactly like we had planned them to go.
1. View The Situation with Compassion
There is a delay in a work project because somebody fell ill and is unable to complete their part. A child is screaming in a bus and their parent is unable to do anything about that. An older person is taking forever to pay in the corner shop in front of you because they want to pay in small coins. All of these situations can leave us positively fuming and furious.
Rather than getting annoyed or anxious, the best thing in these situations is to try to get some perspective and find some compassion.
Our colleague most likely did not fall ill on purpose. A child is not able to control their emotions like adults are, and the poor parent is not liking the screaming any more than anybody else in the bus. In fact, they are probably very aware of what is going on in other passengers mind, wishing that the ground would swallow them up. And for that older person – they have been paying with cash most of their lives up until now and have all the right to continue to do so.
Also, how you would feel if your exact thoughts of impatience were addressed to your elderly relative, mother, sibling or partner? We are more likely to have patience with people we know but how about we practise extending that compassion to everybody around us?
Finally, it is important that we extend the same level of patience and compassion to ourselves: Problems or delays we come across are not a reflection of ourselves, or a measurement of our self-worth. It is essential to treat ourselves with kindness and understanding too.
2. Understand Your Triggers
We all have different things that trigger our (im)patience. Our patience is also affected by our general mood: If the day has otherwise been going wonderfully, an unexpected setback might not concern us much. Yet on a bad day, even the slightest delay can cause a massive frustration that can spill over to affect everything else for the rest of the day.
It is useful to do a little bit self-inquiry to understand what makes us feel good, what type of situations tend to stress us out and if there are any specific patterns we can spot as sources of impatience? These can be related to lack of sleep, hunger, financial concerns or worries about our loved ones. Once we learn to identify them, we can also work on preventative measures to sooth the mind.
Being able to identify and separate all the different things we have going on in our lives helps us to deal with specific instances in a more calm and focused manner. Rather than going “typical, nothing ever works for me!” we can step back and understand that one set back is just that, one isolated incidence. We can not only work on preventative measures when we feel negative feeling coming to surface, and learn to take comfort in the fact that one incident is just that, one incident.
3. Have a Flexible Plan
Planning is important to manage our days and achieve out goals and targets. But as even the best laid plans are - lets be realistic here - likely to hit some obstacles, it is wise to build some flexibility in our plans to avoid frustration taking over at any point. Think about penning in some empty days for a project that allows for buffer time should complications arise. Or have a back up plan/option B outlined so if your main venture hits a road bump, you can switch to an alternative that will still benefit the overall goal, whatever that may be. Give space for working on your patience by expecting the unexpected and having alternatives available.
Part of this flexibility is to allow for down time, whether it was planned or not. If it is planned, do not skip it even if you don’t feel you need it. And if a meeting is cancelled at a last minute, rather than getting annoyed about it, take the allocated time to sit down to meditate or to take a walk. After all, you have put the time aside to do something important so use that time to focus on yourself and your wellbeing – there is nothing more important than that.
Learning to become more patient is a skill that needs practising, just like anything else. The willingness to work on it is the first step, the rest is about committing to improving the skill. Why not use the Trigg focus point for November to consciously work on your patience and see what unfolds during those 30 days?
Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while waiting.
Elina writes about yoga and general wellbeing with some tips on how to live a more simple, sustainable life at On The Same Time Zone. Elina moved back to London in October 2017, after spending eight years on the Island of Cyprus in the East Med.