Patience, oh Patience. Some people believe this is a trait we are either born with or not or something we are either good at or not. This is a hopeless belief and shines a dim light on the human race, can you imagine if we all walked around reacting to things like my 3 year old when he is tired and processed sugar is coursing through his veins (Because Halloween!) it would be the end of humanity if we all acted like this. I believe that patience is something we can strengthen and get better at every day.
Patience is described as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry our upset. Strengthening or growing my capacity to be patient is something that I work on each day. Some moments are harder then others and some moments are completely fleeting and I lose my s!*T faster then I can realized what is going on. But other moments I can take a deep breath and work through the situation no matter what it throws at me. So why do we experience this difference in being able to keep it together and work through it or lose our s!*T.
There are many factors that can influence our capacity to be patient; amount of sleep, quality of food we are fueling our body with, level of stress and overwhelm, type of situation, amount of patience that have already been used for the day, amount of self-care that is engaged in, level of insight in to triggers, and the list goes on. Some of these factors are in our control like making sure we get enough sleep, but others are out of our control. Also, some of these factors may affect one person greater then another person. With all these factors to consider it might seem overwhelming and hopeless that you can ever increase your patience and stop losing your s!*T. But you can and here is how!!
Practice. Practice. Practice. I know boring right! If you were looking for a quick fix this is not it but the good news is that it gets easier over time. There are some basic first steps to make sure you are starting in the right place and those includes getting enough sleep, fueling your body with quality food, and getting regular physical movement. After these things there are other steps that you can take to improve your patience.
Identify the feeling without attaching to it.
This means identifying and acknowledging the feeling that is causing the discomfort and labeling it, maybe even out loud. By labeling the feeling it will help you to understand what is going on with your cognitive brain and not just your emotional center. The next step is not attaching to this feeling. This is the part that trips people up. Sometimes you assume that the emotions you have are you and you label them good or bad. This is not the case you are not your emotions, they are just reactions to moments in time and they are neither good nor bad, they are just telling you something. Listen.
Change your perspective and rewrite your script.
After you identify the emotion and label it you get a change to change your perspective on it. You are not a failure because you feel overwhelmed with managing your job, you kids schedules, keep the house clean, and cook wholesome meals. You are doing the best you can with the time you have and maybe it is time to sit down and explore how you can reprioritize or ask for support. This is challenging your inner critic by rewriting the story it is telling you and giving yourself some grace. It is also hearing the criticism and using it to work through the barrier or explore alternative options.
Just breath and take some time for self-care.
Slow down and breath. Sometimes just allowing yourself to take a deep breath will slow you down enough to be able to focus your reaction and redirect the emotions. Allow yourself some space to take care of you so you have the capacity to have patience with others. Do something that fills you up, gives you joy, and focuses you on enjoying that moment. This is self care. Everyone is different and the key is finding something that works for you and do it regularly.
Identify what you are grateful for.
While you are in a situation that is testing your patience it can be a really great time to remind yourself what you are grateful for in the situation or in the person. This can break through the negative feelings and put you in a more positive mindset instantly.
It may seem odd that that I wrote this and attached a picture of my dog but let me tell you he is the perfect opportunity for me to practice patience everyday! He is almost 13 years old and along with issues of aging he is also often a real JERK. He has been this way for a long time and only really wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it and on no other terms. Ever since I started looking at his behavior as an opportunity to practice patience it has improved our relationship and the negative feelings I have toward him. He is still a JERK a lot of the time but I just take a deep breath and practice gratitude and smile and we usually get through it.
There is hope you can increase your patience in the world one situation at a time. I believe in you! You got this! Start today growing your patience. You will feel better and everyone in your world will react better to you when you are not losing your s!*T all the time!