CAREER ADVANCEMENT / NOV. 01, 2014
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How to Exercise Patience

Almost everyone has been impatient at one time or another. Not being able to control our patience can have detrimental effects on us as well as others. Impatience causes increased stress, which can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, migraine and heart conditions. In addition, it can have a negative impact on our productivity, as well as relationships at the workplace and at home. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to handle impatience properly.

Here are some of the common signs of impatience:

  • Muscle tension
  • Shallow breathing
  • Restless/jiggling feet
  • Fist clenching
  • Anger/irritability
  • Rushing
  • Nervousness/anxiety
  • Quick decisions

If you detect any of these signs of impatience, you need to take time to identify the cause. In many cases, there are ‘triggers’ that cause us to have an impatient frame of mind. You can identify your triggers in the following ways:

  • Think about the times you have been impatient. What were the reasons for it? This could give pointers for your current state of mind.
  • Ask your colleagues, friends or family about your impatience. Since they know you well, they might have an idea of what makes you impatient.
  • In many cases, impatience is caused by physical factors like tiredness, dehydration or hunger. Therefore, the next time you feel impatient, analyze your body. The solution could simply be a drink or snack.

When you have identified your triggers, you can then evaluate your actions and take steps to remedy the situation. In some cases, it is impossible to avoid the triggers that cause impatience. However, you can learn to manage the impatience itself.

Here are some tips for dealing with impatience:

  • In many cases, impatience creates tension in your muscles. Therefore, you need to find a way of relaxing your body from the top of your head to your toes. If possible, visit a gym several times every week.
  • Take deep, slow breaths. This will help relax your body and slow your heart rate. In addition, it will allow you to detach yourself emotionally from the situation.
  • When you are impatient, there is a tendency to rush. Therefore, you need to make a deliberate decision to slow down. Force yourself to move and speak more slowly. If you ‘act’ in a patient manner, you are likely to ‘feel’ more patient.
  • When talking to people, give them your full attention and practice empathic listening. Be sure to respond in a slow, thoughtful way.
  • At times, impatience is caused by a mindset of perfectionism. If you realize that you are a perfectionist, take time to deal with this self-defeating thought pattern.
  • In every situation, how you react is your decision. Therefore, you need to learn to control your emotions. For instance, when a colleague is slow in completing a task, you can either yell at them or address them calmly.

Some people are naturally patient. However, for most, it takes some effort to make it a habit. Though you will not become patient overnight, you can change gradually as you apply the tips mentioned above.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, EricHood

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