Is patience the absence of impatience?


Turtles on sand

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The second lockdown is in place in many countries again and we are being urged to be patient and sit through the measures and restrictions. But what does it mean to be patient?

When I think about patience, I immediately think about the absence of it. I can count many occasions I have been impatient at, yet a lot less where I really felt patient.

Waiting for approvals & signatures, waiting for the kids to get dressed for school or waiting for a big decision to be made. These situations have one thing in common. My attitude that something has to happen earlier, even before it can and best case yesterday. When we are faced with the limitation of time, this makes us feel uncomfortable and consequently impatient. It reminds us that we are alive on limited terms and conditions and at some point we will run out of life time.

How patient are you with yourself to think, plan or do something in life or do you allow yourself to see time as the enemy that constantly wants to be beaten?

Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about patience that has to be cultivated until a situation unfolds itself to you. I love the way he describes “if you really aren’t trying to get anywhere else in this moment, patience takes care of itself. It is a remembering that things unfold in their own time.” Just like the seasons, they know how to change by themselves. By practising mindfulness, we become more aware of the situation when we should push or pull and when we should not push or pull. Mindfulness doesn't mean that we can’t pursue our goals in life, it means to follow them consciously and with calm intention and sometimes taking a break in between to stop and reflect if it is still the right goal for us.

When you become impatient in a task or project, try to stop for a moment and think where this impatience comes from. What is the rush? The path to patience is understanding the situations that cause impatience and trigger anger inside us.

TRY THIS: Ask yourself, in which situations do I get angry and impatient? Who was involved, what did they say and what did you say? When you have that situation, hold it for a moment. Let your breathing be a guide to you, so you get closer to just observe your feelings. Anger and impatience aren’t dangerous on their own, they always tell us something. It is that something we want to give the chance to show itself though a very conscious and calm observation. Be patient with yourself during this exercise and if nothing comes straight away, it just isn’t the time now. Keep trying to put yourself into the situation and see what comes next time.

Once you have practised seeing the situation from a little further away, you can try and imagine you react differently next time. Let your mind wander to a current situation that triggers a state of impatience. Imagine, what would the situation look like if you add a little more patience to your (re)action? Let some more time pass before you react. How would you feel if you took a step back and let the situation unfold itself to you?

If you would like to talk about your patience, just sign up for Friday 13th November 2020 lunchtime chat.

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