Hold on for a second and we’ll tell you how to be more patient. If holding seems challenging to you, you may particularly need these tips.
You may think that being patient or impatient is just part of your personality. But, patience can be developed at any point.
Being impatient in some situations is a natural reaction. But if you find yourself getting anxious every time you need to wait for something or someone, you may want to consider working on your patience.
Learning how to be more patient can be beneficial for your mental health and for your relationships. And it may be simpler than you think.
Impatience and anger can go hand-in-hand in some situations. You may become irritable and jumpy when you’re feeling impatient.
Learning to soothe these emotions that come with being impatient can help you switch things internally.
A quick way to soothe your anger is to take deep breaths. It may be the last thing you feel like doing in a heated moment, but intention is key here.
To be proactive, you can start by practicing mindful breathing techniques on a regular basis.
This means focusing on your breath as you inhale and exhale, and counting to 10.
You might also find it helpful to try anger management techniques, even if you don’t feel you have an anger problem. Some of those tips also work in improving your patience.
Many people simply dislike waiting. It often feels like a burden or an irritation to have to wait, no matter what the consequences are.
But, instead of viewing waiting as an inherently negative thing, you can try reassessing what actually happens if you have to wait, beyond the unpleasant feeling.
Consider taking a moment to identify why it is that you don’t want to wait in this situation.
For example, you might note the following:
- If I have to wait longer for my partner to return from work, we’ll be late for our dinner reservation.
- The doctor is already 10 minutes late, which means I’m going to be late to start cooking dinner.
- My colleague is taking too long to email me back. This means that I don’t yet have clarity on next week’s project.
- This queue is taking too long. I’m wasting time I could spend doing something else.
Once you think more clearly about the consequences of waiting, you can address it better. For example, you might think:
- I’ll call the restaurant and explain that we’ll be 10 minutes late.
- I’ll contact my roommate and ask them if they can take a frozen meal out to defrost.
- I can wait until next week to find out more about the project. I don’t actually need to know right now.
- I’ll use this time in the queue to meditate/take a few breaths/mentally plan the rest of my day/check my emails so that I’m using the time effectively.
Situations that cause you to be impatient are often anxiety-inducing. But when you identify the root cause of the anxiety, you may feel in a better position to problem-solve.
You might even find that there isn’t a truly dire consequence for waiting some extra minutes. If the worst outcome is your discomfort, that can be reframed and reassessed.
We live in an era of instant gratification — it’s easier to access series, movies, books, and even food almost immediately. While this can be convenient, waiting could be pleasant in itself if you choose to see it differently.
Consider delays as a rare opportunity to have a moment to yourself. You don’t have to do anything, you can just be.
When last did you get a moment to daydream or “zone out”? Instead of viewing waiting as an inconvenience, try to think of it as an opportunity to relax or get a few tasks done. If you can, consider using the time to do something enjoyable.
For example, you could use the time to meditate or practice mindfulness. According to a 2017 study, mindfulness can make a stressful waiting period much better.
You could also connect with your surroundings. When was the last time you observed the place you’re in? Have you noticed the noises around? The smells and textures? What are other people doing? What’s going on out there?
The waiting period isn’t just a good opportunity to relax. Some research, such as this 2014 study, suggests that waiting for something can also make you enjoy that activity or item much more.
In some situations, you may become impatient if you feel your time is being wasted. While this can indeed be an inconvenience, you might find it easier to cope if you plan ahead so that you use the time well.
For instance, if you’re going to a doctor’s appointment or to the DMV, you might have to wait a long time. Can you bring a book you’ve been meaning to read, or perhaps some work you’d like to do? In this way, you won’t feel like your time is being wasted as you’re using it effectively.
Impatience can also increase if we feel pressed for time.
If you have a chock-full schedule, waiting for something might feel like a huge burden because it affects the rest of your schedule.
In this case, time management might include scheduling some “buffer periods” between activities, delegating some tasks, or reducing your number of commitments.
In some cases, your impatience might be quite justified.
Indignation can look like a lack of patience. If a friend is 45 minutes late to dinner without offering an apology or a valid reason, you might feel disrespected. In this case, the solution might not be for you to be more patient. A better way to avoid impatience might be to set boundaries so that these behaviors don’t become recurrent.
When setting boundaries, it’s a good idea to be in a calm, stable state of mind, so give yourself time to cool off. Try sitting down with your friend and telling them how their actions affected you. It might be that they had a valid reason for their lateness, but didn’t know how to communicate it.
Depending on the situation, you might want to say something like:
- In future, I’d appreciate it if you let me know in advance you’re going to be late so I can rearrange my schedule accordingly.
- This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. If you continue being late, I will no longer make plans with you.
- You were 10 minutes late for this call, and I have an event in a few minutes, so our call will be 10 minutes shorter.
You can use your own discretion when it comes to setting those boundaries, as the situation will vary from one instance to the next.
Being patient can help you manage your relationships better and reduce anxiety-inducing moments.
Patience can be developed and practiced at any time in your life. You may find it helpful to establish boundaries, plan ahead, and reassess situations that make you wait.
If learning patience seems extremely challenging to you, a mental health professional may help you develop some coping skills that specifically work for you.