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Do you find yourself cribbing every single time you encounter a long queue at the supermarket? Or do traffic snarls get on your nerves (well, that’s most of us)? These are small issues, but what if you have to wait a week to know your test results? Does that leave you feeling restless? If your answer to all these questions is affirmative, then it’s most likely that you lose patience at the drop of a hat.
Needless to say, having patience sounds easy in theory, but can be quite tough to navigate! It can definitely get difficult at times, but if most situations leave you feeling annoyed or restless, then ladies, it’s time to work on this aspect.
As Preeta Ganguli, psychologist and mental health consultant, puts it across, “To understand patience, we must first understand impatience. Impatience arises when we have a goal we want to achieve, we have an idea or expectation of when and how that will happen, and eventually for some reason, those expectations are not being met. Patience is sticking with the course, in light of these changes and obstacles.”
Instant gratification is the new norm, and we have been habituated to get everything fast and easy, and that’s where the root of this issue lies. “From replies to emails and texts and fast-tracked relationships to one day deliveries and instant movie watching. These changes in technology have led to a major cultural shift when it comes to patience. We want everything perfect and we want it now. So how do we practice patience in a culture of ‘instant’ everything?” she adds.
We don’t mean to discourage you, but it will require some effort to become more patient. After all, no pain means no gain. No matter what the situation, Ms Ganguli is here to help us tackle the situation better. So, are you all set to find out how to be patient?
“It is only when we know when we are being impatient and exactly what is making us feel this way, that we can make a conscious choice to wait and stay the course. Make mindfulness a part of your daily routines. Start small with five to 10 minutes a day. There are several guided sessions and journaling prompts that one can access online as well,” she says.
While it may be easier to practice mindfulness in some situations, it could be difficult when it is a prolonged situation. But the good news is even the most impatient people can learn how to be patient by practicing mindfulness. When you find yourself getting restless, take a few deep breaths and your nervous system will slow down. This will help to centre you and make you feel more calm.
When you find yourself getting impatient and restless or distracted, remind yourself of the goal. Ask yourself questions like, “why are you doing this, what will it feel like when you achieve this?”. This exercise helps shift our focus from the several distractions around us, reminds us of the value of the goal, and re-motivates us.
Even if you still find yourself losing focus, don’t worry. Try to calm down, and remind yourself to respond rather than react to unwarranted circumstances. More often than not, it is not external circumstances that make you upset, it is your reaction to those external circumstances that causes more stress. So, do not resist experiences at all, practice acceptance. It will take you one step closer to your goal.
“Impatience and distraction are not new to us. We know this will arise. Plan your day or project interspersing time for full focus and some time for distraction — create windows where you keep your phone away. Also, when you set goals, set realistic goals so you are better prepared for the adversities and have a lower chance of getting thrown by them,” Ms Ganguli.
More often than not, our impatience is related to other people’s behaviours. Take some time and try to think from another person’s perspective. They might have their own troubles and reasons for behaving the way they are, which is why it is always important to empathise and be kind. When we practice empathy, we lower our own stress and frustration, and find it easier to be patient.
“Train yourself in everyday little tasks to wait. If you want to eat that chocolate, make yourself wait till the evening. If you want to play a game, make yourself wait till you finish that one other task you had lined up. When your phone buzzes when you are eating lunch, wait till after your meal to check it. Small steps go a long way in building patience,” concludes Ms Ganguli.
So ladies, take your time to build patience. Do not try and rush things here as well, because it will require ‘patience’ if you want to learn how to be patient!