by Tina Tessina
Learning to be patient and remain calm reduces and relieves stress and worry. Cultivating patience is really learning impulse control– it’s an issue in self control. You can learn how to do “emotional maintenance” and shake off stress, keep on track of what you want to do, and let go of frustration when something is getting to you. Patience is learning how to wait until you’ve thought before acting and made sure you understand the options and take control of your own ideas and decisions. It’s a growth process, a transformation of self through awareness and learning.
To acquire patience, learn not to act on impulse, but change your thinking and attitude, and reach out for support and encouragement. To learn the necessary patience and determination that enhances your communication, these seven steps will help.
Seven Steps to Help You Learn Patience:
1: Wait: The old advice to “count to 10 before you respond” is a great way to learn patience. Give yourself a chance to give your best response.
2: Use Perspective–put your impulses or desires in perspective– will it be important an hour from now–fifteen minutes from now? Most of them won’t be.
3. Self understanding: If you are tempted to act or speak on impulse, understand that the impulse is normal, but you don’t have to be run by it. Reactions and impulses are normal–it’s how thoughtfully we act on them that counts.
4: Take a longer view: If you’re reacting because someone upset you (e.g.: your partner hurt your feelings) or then give a little prayer of thanks that it wasn’t worse, say a blessing for your partner (who probably needs it) and you’ll feel better. If you are tempted to act impulsively, pause a minute and consider your bigger goal–then decide if the momentary impulse is worth setting back your goal.
5. Give yourself a break: If you act on an impulse before thinking about it, acknowledge that you did it, then forgive yourself and get back on track. If you find yourself acting impulsively a lot, then maybe your goal is too rigid, and you need to allow a little more room for yourself, or to renegotiate the contract with your spouse. (See the following section on expectations.)
6. Consider the source: Impulses are often a reaction to outside circumstances–for example, being annoyed because your partner isn’t available, when you could enjoy using the time you have to yourself. Make sure what you do is what you really want to do.
7: Celebrate: Remember to celebrate your accomplishments and all the times you do what you intend to, keep your promises, and work things out. Frequent small celebrations are a way to reward yourself for patience, and to increase your motivation to be even more patient.
Dr. Tina Tessina, PhD http://www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years’ experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page.) Her newest books are Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage and The Commuter Marriage.