An article in The Thrive Centre For Human Development stated that self control and patience predicted better performance and higher self-esteem.
In this day and age of technology and fast paced living, patience seems to be more and more challenging to practise.
Here’s a short story that will put patience in perspective:
On Monday and Tuesday nights, I help my mixed martial arts instructor when he teaches kids. There was one particular boy who was right handed/footed. He struggled with left kicks. The instructor asked me to hold a kick shield and let this boy practise a side kick with his left leg. After 2 rounds, I asked the instructor if the boy should switch to his right leg. The response was “Keep going with his left leg”.
Another 2 rounds went by, and the boy was getting a bit frustrated. My previous question to the instructor was repeated, and his response was the same. After another 2 rounds, the boy was losing interest in the side kick with his left leg. Instead of asking the instructor, I informed him that the boy had completed 6 rounds, practising the same kick with the same leg. The instructor replied “Keep going”. My response – “Master, he has been doing the same kick for 6 rounds. Let’s do something different”. In his usual calm demeanor, he replied “Keep going”.
At that point, I was feeling sorry for this boy. After one more round (his 7th round, practising the same kick with the same leg), the instructor asked the boy to close his eyes, and practise the side kick with his left leg. Now, this was the 8th round that the boy was doing the same kick. To my surprise, he hit the kick shield in the same spot with every kick, even with his eyes closed. At the end of that round, the instructor asked the boy to rest for one round, and slowly drink some water. He then turned to me and calmly said “Patience makes perfect”.
The one lesson that was obvious from that experience was that there are certain things that take time, regardless of how we may feel about it or how much we may wish to rush the process.
Please ask yourself this question – “Is there any area of my life in which I must exercise more patience?”
Followed by – “What will the by-product of patience be?”
Now, it is clear that for many people patience is a very challenging character trait.
A few weeks ago, I was at a road intersection while driving. Once it was clear for the driver ahead of me to go through, he looked left and right again, just to double check. The driver behind me started beeping his horn, and went into a tirade. All of this for what? Just the two seconds delay?
Here are 4 tips for you to practise more patience:
- Take 3 deep and slow breaths – it has been said that deep breathing regulates your heart rate. It will also make you relaxed. If the person in front of you at the post office is taking too long at the counter, it can be easy to become impatient. Take 3 slow and deep breaths. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make you feel better when impatience seems to be taking over. If you feel that you are still tense, keep taking deep and slow breaths. In the previous article, it was mentioned that taking a few deep and slow breaths, followed by a smile (fake or real) will most likely put you in a more productive/positive state. Do that if you have to.
- Switch your attention to something else and engage in productive self talk – if you are stuck in traffic and become impatient, switch your attention to something else. It could be something that is on your mind or something that will make you happy. For example, start planning your day or your night. Tell yourself what you will do that day or night –“Tonight will be a good night at the gym” or “I can’t wait to watch that movie on the weekend”. Use your physiology to express how you feel about the gym or the movie. Doing so will take your mind off the situation at hand, and you will be in a better state (mentally and emotionally).
- Develop a “patience trigger” – when I was a Life Coach, many of my corporate clients were given an exercise – to develop a patience trigger. There was one lady who was the self-proclaimed princess of no patience. If she saw a line at the coffee shop, she would not get a coffee that morning. I asked her to develop or uncover a patience trigger – something that would keep impatience away. She thought back to when she (as a teenager) had a major argument with her younger sister because she took too long to shower. After that argument, they didn’t talk for almost a year! She regrets that argument to this day. I asked her to think about what that argument cost her, every time impatience crept in. Whenever she thought of that argument, she reminded herself to exercise more patience. The one thing that is crystal clear in my study of human behaviour is that pain is a very powerful deterrent!
- Be outcome oriented, not process focused – if your goal (for example) is to lose weight or gain weight, become outcome oriented ie. know that the outcome is the bigger deal than the process. Yes, you will have to go through the process to get to the outcome. The process may/will test your patience. Patience will be needed to see small ongoing results, and to get you to the desired end result. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your ideal/desired physique be. This can be applied to anything medium or long term that you are working toward – learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument, working on a new project etc.
Quote: “One minute of patience, ten years of peace.” Greek proverb
I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively practice patience.
Influencing you to your excellence,