Impatience. That niggling feeling that just seems to continuously nag until you feel it rise and take you away in its wave of wanting a situation, feeling, or both to simply change. To be something else. To be what it currently is not. It can be extremely difficult to be patient in the face of impatience.
What I have realised through my mindfulness practice lately is this paradox of having to be patient with your impatience in order to learn patience. It is mind-boggling!
Over the years I have found that I often told myself off for being impatient and was fighting with the impatience so much that the initial thing I was impatient over became paired with the impatience I had with myself. Being aware of this, it becomes easier each day to accept that I am human and prone as the next person to impatience. Being self compassionate and patient with oneself in the first instance is the first step of learning patience and eradicating dual-impatience.
It can be incredibly difficult to maintain composure when being impatient with others or a situation. Either we feel irritable and restless or actively lash out, trying to alleviate the metaphorical itch on our soul or personality that simply can’t wait. I still haven’t cracked the art of patience 100% of the time, but I have made a 5 second rule for myself. When I notice the impatience rising within me, I try to wait just 5 seconds longer than I usually would before responding to a situation or a person. I have found these few extra seconds give me enough space to note my feeling and choose a response. Some of the time, as a creature of habit, I still may end up in a disagreement. But each time I feel impatient, I practice to let my impatience rise and flow and try not to let it control my reaction. I cannot change the human nature that it is to feel impatient, but I can choose my response.
We may look at patient people and wonder how they seem to feel no impatience. It is a false notion. They feel as impatient as the next person upon occasion, but they have mastered the arts of acceptance and non-violent reaction (that includes not entertaining verbal arguments!). A patient person is a master of his/her reactions.
We can all learn patience, but our only opportunity to learn it is through our impatience. We need to work with recognising it and how we usually react (often impulsively and with poor judgment) and remind ourselves of the benefits of being patient (in control of our choices and actions). We need to allow impatience to take its course and, just like any other emotion, understand that it will rise and fall.
No behaviourial changes can happen overnight. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall into impatient habits – just keep practicing each time an opportunity arises. Remember not to suppress feeling impatient either – you’re human! 🙂