“Patient” comes from the Latin root meaning “to suffer” or “to endure.” Quite appropriate, no? Isn’t it a small bit of suffering when we have to wait? Wait in line, wait on hold, wait for someone to finish their part of work, wait to see results from something we’ve put time and effort into? In each case, it’s not just the act of waiting that makes us patient. It’s how we wait. Are we fuming, or are we calm?
One key to being patient is having perspective. It’s easier to delay gratification when you know what the bigger picture is, when you realize five more minutes is just five more minutes, or when you reframe the loss of something immediate for the gain of something long-term. It helps to have self-awareness, too, so that you understand what your triggers are. For me, I
become impatient when there is some kind of time pressure. I get frustrated with traffic when I’m afraid I’ll be late. I get annoyed when I switch lines in the grocery store checkout because I’m in a hurry to get home, only to find the line I switched to ends up with a price check. My solution? I try to follow my Plus-Ten rule — however long I think something is going to take, I add 10 minutes of buffer time. It gives me the space to adjust to time-sucking circumstances outside of my control. It’s a lot easier for me to be patient when there is no pressure!
This week’s Challenge: This week, I will take note of when I become impatient so that I can identify my triggers (and then make a strategy for minimizing those triggers).
Avoiding being Resigned (overuse): Displaying patience takes a lot of self-control. But if you overdo it, you move from self-control to giving up control, becoming passive or resigned. There is a sweet spot where you can be both patient and assertive — willing to wait calmly when necessary, but also willing to stand up for yourself when necessary. The trick is to be mindful of where you are — are you being patient, or are you putting the needs of others consistently ahead of your own? And if you are closer to the latter, what can you do to take initiative to move forward? Patience is not giving up or giving in — it is giving yourself the gift of peace.
Commendable Trait: Patient
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