Sometimes it’s really hard to be patient. Waiting for a green light at a pedestrian crossing, getting out of a plane, dealing with an annoying colleague or customer; there’s plenty of situations where it’s hard to keep calm no matter how hard we try.
Though some people are naturally more impulsive than others, everyone can learn to develop patience. Dealing with your thoughts and feelings can be hard at first, but over time it becomes easy. When you practice cognitive defusion, choose a healthier lifestyle, and practice relaxing hobbies or activities, you can develop patience easily and quickly.
In this article we will have a look at eleven key tips to have more patience even if you tend to lose your temper too often. If you don’t have time to read the whole post (or you are simply… impatient), feel free to skip to the summary at then end.
1. Cognitive defusion
What is cognitive defusion? You can find the complete explanation, as well as some examples, in this article. Put simply, it’s the process through which you detach from your thoughts and feelings. When you realize you are not your mind, or your body, you are able to feel more centered and have more self control.
This process can be very useful when it comes to being patient because ultimately, anger and impulsiveness are not caused by situations — they are caused by your thoughts and the way you feel when something goes wrong.
So the next time you are about to get angry, you can simply repeat to yourself — out loud, or silently: “I feel impatient”, or “I find this situation frustrating”. Surprisingly, by acknowledging your feelings, it’s a lot easier to control them. If you tend to be impatient, practice cognitive defusion more often: it will help you change your behavior and be calmer.
2. Practice gratitude
As a survival mechanism, our brain is wired to focus on the negative. Too often we focus on what we don’t have, instead of what we have; what could go wrong, instead of the best case scenario; what we may lose, rather than what we will gain if we go for something.
This mindset definitely helps us avoid problems, however it also makes it really hard to appreciate all the good things in our life. It also makes it hard to have patience. When all you are focusing on is negativity, you naturally attract more negative emotions.
If you are an impatient person, from today forward, practice gratitude as often as possible. Don’t expect everything to go your own way, and learn to appreciate all the things that do work and do make you happy. Something as simple as gratitude will help you put things in perspective and be more patient.
3. Have patient friends
Human beings are social animals. We subconsciously tend to imitate, or copy, those around us, whether we like them or not. This happens partly because of mirror neurons — neurons that track and replicate the emotions and feelings of those we interact with.
So for example, if one of your friends tells you they have a horrible headache and, for a moment, you feel a headache as well, that’s probably your mirror neurons being activated. Again, this happens subconsciously.
With that in mind, it’s clear that the easiest way to become a patient person is to interact with patient people. The more you interact with angry people, the more you will be impulsive; conversely, being surrounded by calm people will help you improve your behavior and be calmer, effortlessly.
4. Meditate regularly
Meditation has countless benefits: it helps you sleep better, improve your immune system, and concentrate for long periods of time. Moreover, it teaches you that you are not your mind, which can help you with cognitive defusion (we’ve seen the benefits of this technique earlier).
Most importantly, meditation helps you relax and be calmer. Often, we are impatient simply because we’re too stressed out, or we are going through a tough time: if we are able to reduce our levels of stress and anxiety, we will naturally have more patience.
Though you are supposed to meditate on a regular basis — according to many studies, it takes roughly two months before your brain can change — even a single, short meditation session will help you feel calm and refreshed, kind of like you had just woken up from an afternoon nap. If you want to develop patience, give meditation a try.
5. Avoid potential triggers
Is there someone who makes you angry every single time you meet them? Is there a certain situation that makes you lose your temper? Do you always have to wait way too long for something to work, and you find it incredibly frustrating?
If you tend to be impatient, the solution is simple: avoid these things as much as possible! We are all human, and when we feel overwhelmed, it’s normal to react — whether we start to shout, or simply experience anger but remain silent.
Even if you are a very disciplined person, your self control and willpower are very finite: make it easy for yourself, and avoid any potential trigger that could make you lose your temper. At the same time, cultivate hobbies that promote relaxation and help you unwind.
6. Be crystal clear on what you want in life
Life is short. Though it’s normal to get carried away by trivial stuff from time to time, we need to realize that we can’t waste our resources on things that don’t matter. When we become impatient, we basically waste our time and energy for things that don’t really deserve our attention.
This is why it’s so important to be clear on what you want in life: once you are, the little things won’t annoy you as much. Your energy will be focused almost exclusively on your goals and dreams, regardless of how big or small they are. When you are clear on what you want and think long term, you also have more patience.
7. Embrace a slower lifestyle
We live in a society that glorifies productivity and, often, people assume that the best way to be productive is to do everything as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, such approach often leads to less efficiency, more mistakes, more stress, less creativity, and doing things “on autopilot”.
Not surprisingly, it also leads to impatience and impulsiveness. If you want to develop more patience, you want to embrace a slower lifestyle. This doesn’t necessarily mean being less productive, though it does mean focusing on quality instead of quantity. There’s only 24 hours in a day, so if we try to do too much, we usually end up doing nothing at all, or sacrificing quality.
To become a slower, more mindful person, you can also try new calming hobbies and activities such as yoga, Tai Chi, journaling, reading, and, of course, meditation.
8. Eat right, sleep right
Our physical and mental health are interconnected. What you eat and how you sleep directly influences your mood, so if you struggle with impatience, it’s vital that you take care of your overall well being.
First, make sure you eat right. Don’t consume too many simple carbohydrates, as that would cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate and, consequently, you would find it difficult to concentrate and practice self control. Make sure you are hydrated throughout the day; don’t overeat but, at the same time, eat enough, and get in all the essential nutrients.
When it comes to sleep, it’s no secret that getting your eight hours must be a priority for many reasons. Besides being unhealthy, insufficient sleep makes you very irritable, to the point where it’s hard to be patient. If you want to be a calmer person as well as have more patience, make sure you sleep enough, and sleep deeply. You can check out the ten basic sleep hygiene tips here.
9. Practice being patient
As with anything else in life, practice makes perfect. So the next time you feel impatient, force yourself to keep calm. Eventually your mind will become used to it. Impulsiveness is almost always a learned behavior; most of the time, anger and impatience can be controlled easily, regardless of your personality type.
Whether you realize it or not, you can (almost) always choose how you react to external triggers, and the more you do it, the more it becomes a habit, the easier it will be to keep calm. Practice being patient as much as you can because by doing so, you train your mind to be stronger, and you have more control over your mind as well.
10. Make it your identity
Who do you identify as? If right now you identify as someone who is impatient and has zero self control, it will be very hard to develop patience. Our identity influences the way we think, act, and feel: by changing your identity, you can become a calmer person subconsciously.
Also, when something frustrates you and you do manage to be patient, be proud, and feel really good about yourself. You want to train your mind to be calmer, and the most effective way to do it is to link patience to some kind of achievement.
The problem with impatience is that it rarely helps you do anything: more often than not, it simply makes you angry. When you realize that being patient is usually the most sensible approach, it will likely become part of your identity.
11. Count to 10
If nothing else works, simply count to ten. Your thoughts and feelings are always temporary; they come and go. One of the main techniques for cognitive defusion is to imagine your thoughts or emotions as clouds passing by: if you are able to wait for just a few seconds and ignore them, they will go away.
Counting to ten is a simple yet effective way to distract you; though it’s an easy task, your mind is too busy to think of anything else. When you count to ten, you also interrupt any potential thought patterns that may make you angry. And even if you still feel angry after the count, it won’t be as bad as if you had reacted immediately.
How to develop patience: summary
To develop patience:
- Learn to detach from your thoughts and feelings as doing so makes it easy to control (or ignore) them
- Practice gratitude; train your brain to focus on the positive and don’t take anything for granted
- Interact with patient people: as human beings, we subconsciously emulate those around us
- Meditate regularly: it has countless benefits including relaxation, awareness, and concentration
- Know your triggers and avoid them as much as you can
- Be very clear on what you want in life so you don’t waste your energy on trivial stuff anymore
- Embrace a slower lifestyle; focus on quality, not on quantity
- Get at least eight hours of sleep every night, and eat right; it’s a lot more important than you think
- Practice being patient: as with anything else in life, practice makes perfect
- Learn to identify as someone who is calm and patient because your identity influences your thoughts, actions, and feelings
- If nothing else works, simply count to ten
Thank you for reading this article! I hope you found it useful.