The Power of Patience
The bulk of our TV viewing is watching shows we’ve recorded, so the glitch we’ve been experiencing with our cable TV the last month or so has turned what used to be a relaxing way to spend an evening into something quite maddening. Part of the benefit of recorded TV is being able to fast forward through the commercials. That’s simply not an option for us right now. Any attempt to skip commercials zaps you right back to the beginning of the show. And even though my husband and I know all about this funky glitch, there are still times out of habit where one of us will inadvertently press the skip button only to be instantly taken back to the beginning of the show… again!
Our cable provider has cheerfully dispatched two different service men to trade out our box, reprogram it, and probably a few other fixes they never even told us about. Funny thing, the glitch persists! Now the most recent service guy actually helped us resolve some other technical issues with our internet, but the TV glitch – that continues! And it has seriously tested our patience!
In this day and age, we expect everything right when we want it – NOW! Never mind that when I was growing up you either saw a show in black and white with ALL the commercials when it aired or you missed it completely or had to wait months or years for reruns! Now we can access shows in a myriad of ways – thank heavens! In all the cable box juggling our recording of This Is Us was lost. That was nearly tragic!
The desire for everything right now spills over into nearly every area of life: fast food, inability to save money, communication, and so much more. More than ever, our patience muscle doesn’t get much of a workout making waiting for things that take time hard. And yet, valuable things still take time!
In the grand scheme of life, our cable complication isn’t that important. It does, however, highlight how spoiled we’ve gotten when it comes to enjoying quick results at a push of a button. There are plenty of other areas where patience is necessary where the stakes are much higher: In relationships, work, business, finances, physical health, and more. Sometimes there just is no quick fix!
Please don’t confuse patience with being passive. You can be patient and VERY proactive. That’s why we have immediately contacted our cable provider when the cable box misbehaves…again. Patience is more about your response – remaining level headed, open, and steady in spite of the aggravation. The dictionary defines it this way: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. With that in mind, how patient are you?
The truth is: most of us could use a little more patience! Patience is considered a virtue, and it’s something the serves us both well in life, and as we lead, because when you are patient it translates into someone who…
- Interacts respectfully
- Increases productivity
- Provides space to process
- Inspires positivity
- Demonstrates confidence in God
- Possess self-control
- Makes wise decisions
- Builds trust
- Has a positive reputation
So how can you increase your level of patience? Here are 12 unexpected ways to cultivate patience:
1. Identify & Eliminate Your Energy Zappers
When you let energy zappers persist, they not only drain your energy, but also your ability to be patient. Situations, “should’s”, over-scheduling, half-finished projects, and difficult relationships all fall into the energy zapper category, and much, much more! What zapping your energy?
2. Focus on Your Vision/Goals
You may find yourself chasing one option after another. Those possibilities might even be good ones – just not ones that will help you reach your vision or goal(s). Staying the course and pursuing your vision or goals takes patience. To keep from getting distracted, keep your vision and goals in front of you. Daily remind yourself WHY you are pursuing your vision and goals. Imagine what it will be like when you reach them. The longer it takes to reach a goal, the easier it is to quit! Don’t give up! Don’t lose sight of the big picture!
3. Practice Waiting
Because patience is like any other habit, it takes practice. How can you practice waiting or delaying gratification in small ways to exercise that muscle? Rather than getting into the shortest line at the grocery store, choose one of the longer ones. Then slow down, breathe, and give yourself the opportunity to notice what’s going on around you, as well as what’s taking place inside you. What are other ways can you practice waiting?
4. Stop Making Excuses
Waiting is hard! It’s uncertain and uncomfortable and unnatural! It’s easy to justify or make excuses about why you aren’t patient. Some of them even sound darn good!
5. Face Your Fear Monster
When your Fear Monster is running the show, you will react in ways that will ensure you don’t get the very thing you want most. If your Fear Monster tells you that you don’t matter, being patient about this or that will confirm that you don’t matter. If your Fear Monster convinces you that you aren’t enough, having to wait will prove it to you. Unless you are able to look your Fear Monster in the eye and walk in who God created you to be, you will remain impatient.
Sometimes you need to slow down and reflect in order to spot how impatient you are. Journaling is perfect for that. Periodically ask yourself, where in my life do I feel impatient? Where am I tired of waiting? How does having to wait make me feel?
7. Practice Yoga
One of the great things about yoga is that is forces you to slow down, breathe, and be more mindful. It’s also physically a lot harder than you would think! Lest you think I am encouraging you to travel down some weird new age path to greater patience, I want to be clear that I am talking about a way of focusing, breathing, and moving, without the mantra’s and meditation associated with traditional Eastern yoga.
8. Give Yourself Permission to do what you LOVE
When you deprive yourself of the activities that nurture your soul, it increases resentment and leads to impatience. This is not an invitation to do whatever you want, but one to make space in your life to do the things that bring you joy and are good for you.
9. Listen More, Talk Less
Listening is the perfect opportunity to practice patience!
10. Slow Down
Where can you intentionally slow down; refuse to hurry? Can you talk slower, walk slower, drive slower? Society is perpetually urging you to hurry, to not miss out, and to rush. Choose to do life differently. Notice when you are speeding up.
11. Cultivate better habits
Impatience is the result of poor habits. After all, being tired, “hangry”, or lethargic rarely adds up to you being the king or queen of patience. That’s why getting the rest you need, eating well, and exercising regularly are fabulous habits to have. In addition to boosting your ability to be patient, they also do great things for your health and well-being too!
12. Eliminate Responsibilities
When you take on too much it makes you edgy, AKA impatient! You can’t be stretched thin and patient simultaneously. What responsibilities do you need to let go of?
Praying for patience – that’s about the last thing you want to do! The expectation is that God will heap on us all sorts of situations to help us develop patience. The reality is that you already face plenty of opportunities every day to develop patience, you just don’t ask God to help you along the way! In order to truly be more patient, you will need His help! In fact, you probably will need Him to help you accomplish the first 12 suggestions I’ve shared!
Being patient is powerful! When life tests your patience, how will you choose to respond? Our cable adventure has really tried our patience, but that’s not the only area of life where waiting is involved. Reaching goals doesn’t happen overnight, it often involves waiting, and waiting some more, while being persistent!
What’s trying your patience?