The Suffering of Impatience (and what to do about it)

Time to read: 2 min, 52 seconds

I recently attended a Q&A with a real guru, a spiritual guide from India named Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He’s got 3.5 million likes on Facebook, so his guru status is “Facebook official”.

When he burst onto stage, he was completely disarming and hilarious and had that sense of inner joy and bemusement that only can come from a deep sense of trust, surrender and love. I was captivated by his demeanor and warmth.

He was asked “Sri Sris, how can I become more patient?”

After a long pause he replied, “Ah, patience. I will tell you all about patience...next year.”

And that was that.

My friend and I were in a coffee shop this past week discussing how impatience is showing up in our lives. In her case, she is eagerly awaiting for all the personal work she’s done on herself to come to fruition, to feel settled, to have the outsides match the insides. As for me, it relates to being a new business owner and wanting to see the fruits of my labor NOW. The spoiled child in me is strong and kicking.

I want it and I want it now.

For most of us, we notice impatience flaring up throughout our stressful days - toe-tapping while waiting for a friend to arrive (irritability), eager anticipation over an impending event (excitement), when the doctor keeps us waiting (frustration) or MOST noticeably when we’re stuck in traffic (blind rage?).

Or perhaps your impatience is something that feels much more significant, like finally seeing the results of your weight loss efforts, or meeting your partner after an eternity of online dating,

Impatience is really just another form of anxiety, a departure from now. When you’re hurrying and worrying, you’ve jumped ahead of the present moment. And you know what is ahead of the present moment (usually)?

Suffering.

Agony.

Fear.

Impatience is a symptom of lack of presence and it operates under the grandiose illusion that you can control either time or outcome. (Spoiler: you can’t). And it leads to missing the journey.

So what to do with all this impatient energy? How do you bounce back?

Here are a few useful ways to work with those needly, impatient moments:

  1. You gotta recognize! Before any shifts can be made, it’s always a good idea to get really clear on what’s going on. Check in on what feels out of sorts. What are you trying to control? Ask yourself if being impatient is helping solve the problem or contributing to your happiness?
  2. Surrender to the reality. Your friend IS late. You ARE NOT at your goal weight. You ARE single. These are facts.  What dimension of pain are you adding to them? Just because something IS doesn't mean it can't shift, but arguing with reality only causes more suffering. 
  3. Take a few moments to be grateful for what’s available now. What lessons have you learned from the journey to this point?
  4. Breathe or meditate. Take a few deep breaths. Inhale the sounds, sights, and smells around you. I can’t emphasize this enough. Impatience frequently will start to manifest the same symptoms of anxiety, and incorporating breath is a great way to calm down your nervous system and harness your energy in a more productive way.

Listen, I SEE you. I understand, because we’ve all been there. I know you’ve been impatiently waiting for the man, or the baby, or the better days, or the body, or for the business to take off. I know.

But maybe, just maybe, you can put off needing to get to the next moment, in favor of this one.

Just for today.


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