becoming more patient | #3 being others focussed

Have you ever had those moments when you’re pretty sure everybody around you is just trying to annoy you?

Everyone is driving slowly when you’re in a hurry. People are walking the aisles of shopping centres like they’re balls in a pin-ball machine, making it impossible to get around them. The person at the petrol pump in front of you decides now is the time to clean their windscreen back to showroom condition. The clerk processing your payment at the post office reminds you of the sloths from the movie Zootopia (check it out, great movie). Your child is attempting a world record for longest time taken to eat a bowl of cereal. Your teenager is on their third trip back into the house to get something they forgot and can’t leave without. Your work mates are reaching new heights of meeting-hijacking abilities.

Of course you have those moments, sometimes many of them in succession. We all do. If you were getting anywhere with this whole ‘becoming more patient’ idea then these are the moments that are set to derail you … big time!

Patience is the act of waiting well. It’s the ability to endure set backs and challenges without becoming anxious or irritated. Patience is indeed a virtue and one that is tested on a regular basis.

In our efforts to become more patient we’ve noted the need to take  a big picture perspective – to step back and see things in their broader context. We’ve looked at the idea of planning in order to be more patience – choosing  wisdom over reaction. And we also need to keep an important truth in mind … it’s not actually all about you!

It turns out not everyone is intentionally plotting ways to make your life miserable – even though it might seem like it. The slow driver in front of you probably has no idea you’re there. The dude at the petrol station is more worried about his windscreen than you. Your teenager is probably just forgetful or distracted. There is not, despite the seeming appearance to the contrary, a concerted focus on the part of all the people in your world to make life miserable for you.

And this makes perfect sense as you read it. But in those moments, so much of our irritation is borne out of a sense of focus on ourselves that causes us to see everything as a deliberate mission to make us frustrated.

It’s not all about you!

Next time you find yourself impatient with the actions or in-actions of another person, pause and take a moment to consider the situation from their perspective. “I wonder if that slow driver is lost, or a learner, or experiencing anxiety or dealing with a crying baby in the back seat.” “I wonder if this sales assistant is new to the job or tired from a full day of work.” “I wonder if my teenager is trying to keep too many things in their mind, or is worried about something; or is hormonal.”

Such a thought process changes nothing of the circumstances. You’re still going to be impeded or impacted by the other person’s behaviour in some way. But patience isn’t about not waiting it’s about waiting well. And when we shift the focus from ourselves we release something of the anxiety and irritation and replace it with empathy or compassion.

What might that look like for you? How might taking the focus of yourself cause you to be more patient with others?

 

Read more –

Part 1 – big picture perspective

Part 2 – wisdom over reaction

becoming more patient | #1 a big picture perspective 

On the scale of zero to ‘please don’t make me wait for anything, ever’ – how patient are you? How patient would others say you are?

Patience is defined as

the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious

Waiting is not patience. Patience is about how you wait. Experiencing delays, problems and suffering doesn’t mean you’re a patient person – because we all experience those – the attitude with which you journey them is the determiner of patience. Doing things for a long time doesn’t mean you’re patient – it just means you’ve done things for a long time! Doing things without becoming annoyed or anxious is the key characteristic of patience. Our attitude, our grace, our tolerance, our peace and calm, our lack of reactivity, our persistence – these are all indicators of our degree of patience.

Relationships are where, simultaneously, our patience can be so profoundly tested and also where our patience is so intensely required. Impatient people make for unpleasant work colleagues, parents, partners and friends. Impatience expressed through frustration, snappiness, aggression, huffing and puffing or irritating repetitiveness (‘are we there yet?’) are killers of healthy relationships.

We all need to become more patient for our relationships to be positive and enjoyable.

As a quick thinker, speaker, mover, responder and decider, I constantly wrestle with impatience. I want everyone to move at my pace and sometimes do poorly at managing the lag time between when I get something and when others do … seriously, hurry up already!!!

TIP #1 – WE NEED A BIG PICTURE PERSPECTIVE! 

Often our impatience comes from being way too caught up in the moment to understand its significance (or lack of) in the big picture.

Like aggressively racing around someone in traffic only to be stopped beside the same car at the next traffic light. In the big picture of a trip to work, that car going a bit slower isn’t actually going to make us late. But our frustration in the moment can cause us to act irrationally or become unnecessarily emotional (and potentially make unsafe choices).

When children are learning to tie their shoe laces parents or teachers can become frustrated by the need to do it – ‘when are you going to get this yourself!?’. But there aren’t many adults who still need their parents or work mates to tie their shoes. They do get it. Keeping that in mind helps us to be more tolerant in the moment. This won’t be forever – even if it feels like it will.

So much of our intolerance and impatience is related to growth. We want others to get what we get; to know what we know and think like we think and respond like we do. But, often, they don’t have the same knowledge, wisdom, emotional maturity, life experience, perspective or skills and so are unable to respond the same way we would until they do.

When we zoom out our focus to see the big picture it grows our empathy and changes how we gauge others’ actions. Keeping the end in mind can drastically increase our grace, compassion and understanding in the now.

What do you think? How would keeping the big picture in mind shift your ability to be more tolerant and patient in your relationships?

Read more

Part 2 – wisdom over reaction

Part 3 – being others focussed

Why we wait.

It’s a sentiment oft repeated – we live in a fast-paced world!

Emerging generations are born into a culture where everything is instant and waiting – for anything – is considered passé. Fast food, fast information, instant communication, a rapidly mobile people in a shrinking world … you’ve heard and seen it all and are probably fully immersed in it with the gadgets you own, the service you expect and the pace of life you live.

When it comes to our children and teenagers, more and more we are seeing the impact of a diminished capacity for waiting.

We cringe to hear the stories of pregnant 13 year olds and sexually active ‘tweens’; we are horrified by the teen who crashes a stolen car and is found to be under the influence of alcohol; drug dealing and addicted teenagers; the suicidal girls caught in cyber bullying or sexual coercion; the body image obsessed children ‘dieting’ at 5. These stories confront us for many reasons, but perhaps the thing we bemoan the most is the loss of childhood innocence – “they’re growing up too fast”.

It is a challenge of modern day parenting to make the strong stand necessary to keep our kids kids. Everything in our culture comes against that notion and we can be easily swept into believing that because it’s considered “normal” or because it is happening at all then it mustn’t be bad. No one wants to be that cranky old fuddy duddy who starts sentences with “in my day” (to the obligatory eye roll of all younger generations present) or to act in the role of “fun police” where your primary goal in life is to make your children miserable.

Here’s the reality though. Research indicates that the earlier children are exposed to more ‘at risk’ behaviours the greater their risk of addiction or abuse in that area as an adult. This is true for alcohol – the age of a youth’s first sip directly correlates with the likelihood they will handle it inappropriately (addiction/abuse) as an adult. (Yes, that does fly in the face of the old adage that giving alcohol to young people in a controlled environment may lessen their chance of bingeing on it once they’re of age.) Early exposure to sexualised imagery and language increases the likelihood of pornography addiction and sexual obsession or dysfunction as a child ages. (The average age for a first viewing of porn is 11.)

There’s a plethora of reasons we need to return to the virtue of patience and it behoves us as adults to actively seek ways and opportunities to help our children learn the art of waiting. Age restrictions on things such as movies, alcohol, riding on footpaths, video games and requiring adult supervision exist on purpose. There are realities about a developing brain that societal shifts and cultural advancement cannot change but that can be dramatically impacted by the things our children are exposed to.

The long term gain for waiting is unable to be measured, the consequences for not waiting in some cases cannot be overstated – with this in mind the short term cost of a complaining child or being the ‘only one’ rejecting the status quo might not seem such a high price to pay.