Can Patience Be Learned?

Learning patience as a skill

Is someone you know an “instant gratification” person? Are you?

What I mean by this is that some people have “short fuses.” When things don’t go their way they show irritation immediately. They have little patience with the unexpected or with being unsatisfied. They “want what they “want when they want it.”

This can be unpleasant for those around the impatient person because of the annoyed tone of voice this person may use displacing feelings on them. It also can be distressing for the person who is behaving this way.

You’ve no doubt heard of the “Type A” personality who gets gastrointestinal problems and heart attacks at a higher than normal rate due to the way she/he approaches life. “Type A” is a term used for achieving, driving people who are probably perfectionistic. They have high expectations of themselves and others and have a sense of time urgency because they take on so much and feel compelled to do everything really well. They may have a hard time saying “No” to themselves or others and rarely take the time to re-prioritize or delegate. They have little patience with things not running smoothly. Not only is their health at risk but they feel unhappy and nervous a lot and have difficulty in relationships.

But patience CAN be learned! It takes time but is worth it.

Children have trouble delaying their gratification but as we grow older, hopefully, we learn that we must share, take turns and think of others’ needs before our own at times. We learn that most of life includes unplanned change (and that it is not always a bad thing).

Examples of unplanned things being worthwhile:

1. I remember not being able to take the classes I wanted in college and was forced to take French which I did not want. It turned out that I had untold hours of joy from knowing and sometimes using the language.

2. How many times have you had to take a different route because of bad traffic or a detour and discovered a new restaurant or shop you’d not previously known about?

3. Haven’t you had the kind of experience I’ve had when attending a party you didn’t want to go to only to find yourself making a new friend or learning a new joke or a new recipe that you enjoyed a lot?

All of these things were unplanned and unwanted but not unpleasant.

If we could look at life without needing to control everything it would be more of an adventure. To think of our lives this way realizing that it usually doesn’t matter when we don’t get things the way we want them and that often it turns out better when we don’t. This helps us to become more patient.

If you try self-talk about letting go of the need to get what you want it can result in your becoming more patient. The result of that can actually be that you get more of what you REALLY want and need — improved health, better relationships and a more peaceful feeling.

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