Wednesday, 10 July 2013

How to Learn Patience

My Dad’s sister - my Aunt Val - is the youngest of five children. She and her husband, Jamie, now have eight of her own. Her oldest is 21 and their youngest is eight years old.

I remember one day in my early twenties, when I was visiting home from college over the holiday season, I looked at my Aunt Val during a family gathering and said:

“I don’t know how you do it Auntie Val. I don’t have the patience that you do.”

She looked at me with her kind, soft eyes, smiled a half smile, and said wisely:

“Lisa, I didn’t always have the patience I do now. Patience is something that is learned. You have to learn how to be patient.”

At the time, I looked at her blankly, blinked a couple of times, and then went upstairs to get a refill of my Christmas wine. I thought what she has said was interesting, but it was not until years later I finally started to understand what learning how to be patient truly meant.

First of all, I don’t think anyone is naturally really patient. I think some people are more impatient than others, but somewhere deep down, I think most everyone has the tendency to lose their cool.

Second of all, I don’t have any children – let alone eight. I know I still have a lot of growing and learning to do, but so far I think I’m on the right track, and am always working on it.

Photo retrieved from

Here are some things I tell myself when I am about to lose my patience. I hope you find them helpful:

Your patience is being tested. Are you going to pass or fail?
Those moments at the drugstore, or Wal-Mart, where the line up is taking longer than you anticipated and you find yourself shifting your weight from side to side, breathing and heavy sigh and rolling your eyes, is a test of patience.

Keep breathing, start focusing on something else, and try to relax.

People have had to wait for you before
No matter how organized or strong your Type A personality is, there have been times in your life where others have had to wait for you. You probably haven’t even considered or realized all the times you’ve tested other people’s patience.

It’s going to be OK
So maybe you’ll be ten minutes late for dinner, your friend’s party, or the gym. Honestly, it’s not the end of the world. Relax. You will eventually get where you need to be, and do what you need to do.

Ultimately, life is not in our control and everything will work out, I promise.

Getting upset is not going to change anything
You can be grouchy, bitter, resentful, or anxious but the fact of the matter is, things don’t always work out as perfectly as you planned them. Shit happens. Life happens. You have to find a way to better address things that don’t include losing your patience.

Manage your emotions
We all have our choices, and you have the choice to control how you are going to react to something. I highly doubt that stomping your feet and grumbling over something is really going to change anything.

Be prepared
Expect the unexpected. If you have to be somewhere or do something, plan ahead and give yourself some flex time. This way, if something comes up, you will not be scrambling last minute to get things done, putting yourself at risk of losing your patience.

My Aunt Val and Uncle Jamie, and their children.
Patience is something that takes time to develop. If you make the conscious effort to be more patience during menial times (such as waiting in the lineup at Wal-Mart), you will eventually develop the strength to remain patient in even more trying situations.

Like anything else, you have to practice. Try to recognize triggers for you, and be patient with yourself. Remember that all things take time.