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Last Updated on August 24, 2020

How to Learn Patience to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings Under Control

How to Learn Patience to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings Under Control

Do you remember being told as you were growing up that patience is a virtue?

Over the years, I have also learned that patience is a necessity. It’s one of the key qualities needed to achieve what we want with ease and flow.

Obviously, it’s an important trait, but it is one not many of us find easy to embrace. It might sound simple when we tell someone to be patient, but the hurdle is in how to learn patience.

And what does it mean anyway?

The Collins Dictionary says,[1]

“If you have patience, you are able to stay calm and not get annoyed. For example, when something takes a long time or someone is not doing what you want them to.”

Easier said than done eh?

The thing is, becoming patient more often is also crucial in keeping our stress levels down. Blowing our top regularly causes an increase in the release of stress hormones and, in the long term, can even lead to high blood pressure.

As a teenager, I remember being very impatient. I would lose it at the drop of a hat, especially if you put me near a sewing machine. These days it’s more likely poorly timed traffic lights that can get my goat if I’m not being mindful.

Also, in this age of instant gratification and the speed of the online world, it’s becoming more difficult to be patient. We tend to expect things to happen immediately, but often they don’t.

The good news is that as we age, we tend to acquire this skill more naturally. And during my lifetime I have become aware of some simple practices that help. Here are 5 simple practices to learn patience.

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1. Remind Yourself Why Learning Patience Is Important

Aside from the obvious health benefits of being patient, there are also other reasons why this virtue is essential. I always find these reasons to be helpful during my greatest challenges.

If we get annoyed or frustrated, it affects our attitude, thinking, and behavior. We become less productive and lose focus and clarity. Impatience also causes us to communicate poorly, which can harm our relationships.

When we stay calm, we become more mindful in our daily lives because we see things differently. We become more compassionate towards others improving our relationships. Plus, we get so much more done in much less time because we are more focused.

There is also the energetic component of impatience. If we regularly lose our cool, we create an energetic space of resistance. This makes it difficult to achieve what we want and slows the manifestation process down.

Through the virtue of patience, we place ourselves in the energetic space of allowance. This means we can achieve more, often in less time and without the need to push. We create a pull motion instead.

Reminding yourself of this if you’re tempted to fly off the handle will help.

2. Breathing Properly Calms the Nerves

If we feel stressed out or impatient it’s a sign we are too much into our thoughts.

Ruminating and wanting something to happen immediately causes our stress levels to rise. And before we know it, we are steaming from the ears. Doing this repetitively means it eventually becomes an automatic response and difficult to change.

At times like this, we tend to shallow breathe. In fact, we spend most of our waking hours in shallow breaths. And it’s only when we become more mindful about our breath that we change it.

Shallow breathing causes the supply of oxygen to the brain to be decreased. This stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers the “fight-flight” response. In this survival response, our heart rate and blood pressure increase, and our muscles tense ready for action. This increases the negative emotion.

So, shallow breathing causes a vicious cycle. We can reverse this cycle by breathing deeply and more slowly.

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The American Institute of Stress says,[2]

“Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”

By regularly practicing deep breathing, we feel more connected to our bodies in our daily lives. This interrupts that automatic stress response, allowing us to be more patient.

You can also use your deep breath to calm down during a heated moment too.

3. Meditation Helps You Learn Patience

This is a practice that so many people avoid or think they can’t do, but the benefits are great. This includes the resulting increase in patience.

We need to practice the art of patience to meditate and through the process of regular meditation, we increase our capacity to be patient. This is through the journey of learning to manage our minds.

As a coach and meditation teacher, I have realized that many people have a misunderstanding of meditation. Most people I meet who don’t meditate think it is about switching off their minds. They have a belief that to practice this ancient art “correctly,” they need to have no thoughts.

Well, this just isn’t true. Our thoughts are a necessary part of meditation, and here’s why.

Meditation is the practice of learning to manage our thoughts to enable us to focus on one thing. It is the process of being the observer of our thoughts instead of buying into them. This allows our thoughts to just pass through so we can return to our point of focus.

As we do this daily, even if just for ten minutes, we learn to quiet our minds and this increases our levels of patience. Every one of us can meditate when we change the way we see it and understand its true purpose.

By adopting your own practice and making it part of your daily routine, your levels of patience will rise.

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4. Switch Your Focus to Something More Resourceful

Just as we move our focus from our thoughts during meditation, we can also do this if we feel impatient. Regularly meditating will help you do this during the day.

As we move our focus, our frustration levels decrease.

The way we feel is a result of what we are thinking about. If we feel annoyed about something, it’s generally because we are telling ourselves it should be some other way.

For example, if we keep getting red traffic lights on the way to work, we might feel frustrated. This is normally because we think it should be different or we tell ourselves we don’t have time or we will be late.

There is no way to change the red traffic lights right? It is what it is!

Or is there?

You see, when we change our focus to something else—let’s say we start to look for green trees or green cars—it will change the way we feel. We calm down.

There is also the belief that “what we focus on, we get more of”. As we focus on more green objects, we notice the traffic lights become green as we travel to work.

Now, you may call me crazy, but hear me out here because I have done this so many times.

In the “strong force” described in quantum physics, it is said that like particles attract like particles.[3] This means that when we focus on what we want, we attract more of that.

While we keep ruminating about how things should be different, we freeze up this process and cause more impatience. We also experience more of what we don’t want.

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By moving your focus to something else before you feel like hitting the roof, you will start to feel more patient. This allows the flow of quantum physics to work in your favor. You can even do this after you’ve been triggered, too.

5. Acceptance Is the Key

Apart from the positive results that can be gained by changing our focus, there is often nothing that can be done to change things. At times like this, it really is what it is.

Whether we can or can’t change things, the practice of acceptance will help us stay calm. This is another of those important virtues and it’s not about giving up.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that we are happy about what’s happening. And it certainly doesn’t mean we don’t want to change things. It just means we don’t want to give ourselves an even harder time. We just want to let it go.

In the process of letting it go, we begin to feel calm and more patient again. This also increases our levels of compassion and understanding with others, too., which brings positive benefits to our relationships.

So, if you feel like you are about to lose your temper with something or someone, remind yourself that it is what it is. Decide to let go and then choose from a more resourceful space what you might like to change.

To Sum It Up

Patience is indeed a virtue, but it also a necessary trait to live a happy and fulfilled life. Our physical health and mind have the greatest leverage over everything we experience and achieve.

This quality is not only a trait—it is also a way of being. And when we learn to live as a more patient person, every part of our life will improve.

More Tips on How to Learn Patience

Featured photo credit: Ümit Bulut via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Collins Dictionary: Patience
[2] The American Institute of Stress: Take a Deep Breath
[3] Heart Space: Does The Law of Attraction Exist in Quantum Physics?

More by this author

Deb Johnstone

Deb is a professional mindset speaker and a transformational life, business and career coach. Specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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