This post is dedicated to myself, from a wise Ela to a down-to-earth one.
Our life experience is rich. Our days are intense. With the amazing speed of technology we have slowly been loosing a sense of gradual development. We become witnesses to high progress jumps and we forget the slow pace.
Our personal development doesn’t match the technological one. And with the ever present push for newer, faster and better solutions we have lost the virtue of patience.
Not surprisingly the words “patient” and “patience” are related. Patients need to be patient. Diseases, health issues and accidents teach us to appreciate slow progress, no progress or even regress.
The most difficult part of being patient is when dealing with ourselves and other people. This is a skill necessary for life.
Patience is a virtue, moral excellence to be kind and respectful to yourself and others. It has a tremendous impact on personal growth.
When it comes to physical changes, we understand that patience is necessary. We don’t expect to have a new house built in a week, a profitable business set overnight,
or a child speak after they are born. We know there is a slow progress to be expected.
Personal growth requires tremendous patience. It doesn’t necessarily take years, although it may, of course. What is more important is that the attachment to outcomes is misleading. Personal growth requires work, conscious acts and adaptations when we carefully observe how things develop. Although it is often slow, it does eventually work.
The time is needed because there are many interconnected factors that need to change together, such as limiting beliefs, behavior, environment, values, relations and so on. Any small change in one area may cause a cascade of changes to happen in the other ones.
We often overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, especially when we start a new project or work on a new skill. However, we badly underestimate what we can accomplish in five years. Check it out for yourself!
How happy are you with the progress this year?
It is possible that the progress is much slower than you anticipated.
What did you expect to have had achieved by now while you look from the perspective of five years ago?
It is possible you have moved mountains in some areas that you have not even expected.
As difficult as it may sound to accept it – it is OK if a change takes five years. It may be slow but the time is there to pass anyway. We may consciously choose to have a life of a better quality in five year time than the one have now. It is about the appreciation of the delayed reward.
And then there might be times when there is no progress, or even a regress it feels. It is OK too. Be patient. Wait. You may sometimes lack the skills, understanding or knowledge for the challenge or situation you have at hand. It will ultimately improve when you gain the right perspective or skills.
When people become upset or irritated easily, they may call you names or speak in non-respectful ways. Bitter words are being said that hurt deeply. Some are sharp as
blades and may leave open wounds for years.
When people have strong opinions they may stay blind to other points of view, and judge you badly on the spot, especially when a conflict arises.
When people are overworked, stressed or overtired, they become vulnerable. A simple act that goes against their expectations may cause an emotional outburst and blames.
When people are ill or suffer from dementia, they become difficult to their care takers. Harmful things are being said and deeds done, yet we need to remember that this is not the person we used to know but the illness acting in the moment.
There is a huge cost to impatience and, on the contrary, patience leaves us free.
When you react immediately on the flow of emotions you may easily end up blaming others or doing harmful deeds. It is usually difficult to work out a compromise or a good relation again if the conflict has run out of hands.
It is a good idea to be careful with what we say and how we say as words have a tremendous impact. If you feel that you may burst out – it is best to call for a stop and communicate it to the other party. If you are upset, it is best to sleep things over, a few nights or even weeks, and take a few iterations in your thoughts or writing before you speak out.
And this is where patience come in. It makes us wait to choose the proper words that express our concerns yet are respectful to the other person. In my personal experience, it takes between 3 and 7 iterations before I can say things without the blame or other unnecessary emotions. Patience and kindness are related.
Cost of impatience
There is a bigger cost of impatience than the one described above. People tend to make wrong deeds or commit crimes because, at the bottom, they lack patience in their lives. They are in favor of instant gratification and they miss the virtue of patience. They want something and they want it now. Action on such an impulse is based on the emotional-cognitive brain, while waiting or working towards a solution requires conscious thoughts and actions.
Such people go and steal, because they can’t wait to save the money while working at a job. It is just too slow.
They go and kill somebody because they want their possessions now or they don’t know how to solve a conflict with the person involved.
They beat up their pears because these pears just called them names. There was no way to stop the overwhelm of emotions.
Patience is however a skill that can be learned since childhood. If you have a child and always give him a toy/pleasure he wants, you certainly strengthen his expectations to instant gratification. It is a good idea not to do it often and introduce challenges that involve a delayed reward. Read also about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment to find out how important it is.
When as a young person you feel impatient with your parents because they want to know what you’re doing or where you have been, it is not because they want to be mean, but because they care.
If you feel impatient with your kids because they misbehave, it’s not because they are nasty, but because it is their natural inclination to test the boundaries and challenge authorities. They will learn from it.
If you feel impatient with your colleagues, because they have changed the agreement, are blind to the “obvious truth” or blame you for (non-)doing things, it is not because they are arrogant and disrespectful. Perhaps, it is so, because that are unable to think with you or see a bigger perspective at the moment.
If you feel impatient with your husband/wife, friends or family members because they seem to make stupid mistakes or stick to their limited point of view, it is not because they are against you on purpose. Perhaps, it is so, because they have underlying fears and concerns that need to be addressed first.
The cost of impatience is big. You don’t need to pay it if you just pause and think of the alternative.
Photo courtesy Aussiegall, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.