Life is like a vast landscape with both soft grass and sharp thorns; impatience rails against the thorns, patience puts on shoes
- Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain
Life can be challenging.
We all have so many things to do, places to go, people to see and there is not a moment to lose … and then the world gets in the way.
Then we find ourselves in a long slow queue of traffic, or the person we have to talk to is taking an age to get to the point, or we need to finish a task and someone else is dragging their feet.
With so much to do and so many obstacles in our way it’s easy to get impatient; to seethe at the inefficiency of the world and the incompetence of the people around us. While delays are inevitable, seething can be optional.
Patience is the capacity to deal with difficulties, delays and discomforts without becoming aggravated. It acts as an internal shock absorber when things aren’t going according to our plan.
Impatience is a toxic brew of unpleasant feelings, a sense of pressure or urgency and a feeling of not being in control.
It spawns all sorts of unpleasant reactions in us and towards the circumstances, or people, we hold responsible for those situations.
- can’t stand discomfort
- is angry and resistant
- wants relief or satisfaction, and wants it now!
- focuses its attention on what is wrong
- is tolerant of physical and emotional discomfort
- is at ease with the situation
- has its eye on the wider picture
One way of cultivating patience is to diminish the power of impatience.
This tapping sequence is designed to do just that by neutralising the unpleasant feeling states that accompany impatience, addressing our judgements of the situation and the people involved and finally how we feel about what is happening to the time we are spending when we are in those situations.
What triggers your impatience?
Bring to mind a situation in which you feel impatient with someone, or at some thing.
As you remember it now, make a mental note of how it feels and what happens in your body and your mind?
On a score from 0 – 10, how impatient do you feel in this situation?
Softening the discomfort of impatience
The first step in this process is to reduce the unpleasant feelings associated with being impatient.
Impatience is uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel good and most people don’t like it.
When you think of the situation where you are impatient you probably experience a collection of sensations and feelings that go with that situation.
Use the following list to unpack the feelings that go with that situation.
When I am in ‘this situation’ I feel:
- let down
- held back
This list is not comprehensive and the feelings listed may or may not fit with the situation you are thinking of, always go with what seems to fit with your sense of the situation. If you notice feelings or reactions that are not on the list add them at the end.
Evaluate the charge for each of the feelings on your list and tap your way through each of the statements that are highly charged for you.
Releasing The Judgement Of The Situation / People
When you have softened the emotions surrounding that situation you can move on to releasing any judgements you may hold against people or the situation that is ‘causing’ you distress.
When we are feeling impatient we can have judgemental attitudes and feelings towards the person involved in the situation and even for the situation itself.
Use these statements as a starting point to uncover your critical reactions to what is going on.
Repeat each sentence out loud, giving each a 0 – 10 intensity score.
As before, the feelings listed may or may not fit with your experience, always go with what seems to fit with your sense of the situation. If you notice feelings or reactions that are not on the list add them at the end.
Judgements about the situation
We may have all sorts of judgements about the situation we find ourselves in. If we are impatient in it then it is likely that we have some negative opinions about the predicament we find ourselves in.
Use these suggestions as a starting place to unpack your judgements about the situation. Add your own judgemental thoughts to the end of the list.
This ‘situation’ is:
- a problem
Assess the emotional charge for each item on your list, then tap your way through each of the statements that are highly charged for you.
Judgements about the people involved
Being impatient often involves other people. What they are saying or doing can cause us to feel judgemental towards them.
This list of judgements is a starting place to unpack the judgemental thoughts about the other people involved in this situation. Once again use this list as a starting point for your own list of emotionally charged judgements.
When in ‘this situation’ he/she/they are:
- getting in my way
- thwarting me
- holding me back
- doing it wrong
- mistreating me
- annoying me
- punishing me
- doing it deliberately
Notice which of these statements has an emotional charge, then tap out each statement to soften the judgement.
Time: Wasting And Waiting
One aspect of impatience that drives a lot of the discomfort is all about the misuse of our time.
If you feel your time is being well used in an activity you are not likely to feel impatient, quite the opposite, you may even be unhappy when the activity ends. You probably feel that your time was well spent doing what you enjoy.
In the situations where you are impatient you may feel that you are:
- waiting – paused in time until something happens to let you carry on with your life
- wasting your time – making poor use of the time available.
When you are waiting it is as if your life has been put on hold. The flow of your life stops until the bus arrives, the doctor ushers you into her office, the traffic light changes from red to green. Most of the time these pauses are bearable, however if you have something you want to do and little time to do it in even small pauses can be challenging.
If you are wasting your time it is as if the time that you are spending waiting for the bus to arrive, the doctor to speak to you or the traffic light to change is being wasted or put to bad use. After all, time is limited, there are only 24 hours of it in a day and an unknown number of days in our lives. It’s a resource that is dwindling all the time, ‘throwing it away’ while you wait for someone to do something, or something to change can seem like a terrible waste of precious time.
The time spent in the impatience situations will be the same, how we relate to that time can be changed to make our experience easier.
Moving From Waiting To Being Present
If you feel that you are on hold or waiting, it might be useful to change ‘waiting’ into ‘fully being’ in the situation.
By fully being in the situation I mean being present in the situation, aware of yourself and your surroundings in a calm and mindful way. This spacious alternative is very different from waiting impatiently for the delay to end.
If you are not familiar with mindfulness and its benefits you might like to visit www.mindful.org
Say this sentence out loud to see if you have a sense of waiting in the situation you have chosen.
“When I am in ‘this situation’ I am waiting …”
How true (0 – 10) does that feel? If you have a strong charge on that statement then it may be helpful to soften that emotional response.
Rather than suggest that at the first sign of impatience you adopt the lotus posture and begin a silent meditation, I’m going to suggest using paradoxical tapping to generate some ways of being fully in the moment that are appropriate for you.
Paradoxical tapping takes the problem of what you want to do to your unconscious mind that can come up with a lot more possibilities than your conscious mind could.
Begin with this setup statement while tapping on the karate chop spot.
Even though when ‘this situation’ I feel I am waiting, I accept myself and how I feel x 3
Then alternate these statements with each tapping point.
- EB: I feel I am waiting …
- SE: and, in how many different ways could I be more fully in the moment, now?
- UE: I feel I am waiting …
- UN: and, in how many different ways could I be more fully in the moment, now?
- CH: etc
Now say “When I am in ‘this situation’ I am waiting”.
How strong does that feel now?
From Wasting Time To Benefiting From It
If you feel like you are wasting your time in the impatience situation you are thinking of you might like to change the sense of ‘wasting time’ into ‘benefit-ting from that time’.
Once again you can use paradoxical tapping to access new ways of making the most of these experiences.
Say this sentence out loud to get a sense of whether you are ‘wasting’ time.
“When I am in ‘this situation’ I am wasting time”.
How strong does that feel on a 0 – 10 scale?
Begin with this setup statement while tapping on the karate chop spot.
Even though when ‘X’ I feel I am wasting time I accept myself and how I feel x 3
Then alternate these tapping phrases for each of the tapping points.
- EB: I feel I am wasting time …
- SE: and, in how many different ways could I make better use of this time?
- UE: I feel I am wasting time …
- UN: and, in how many different ways could I make better use of this time?
- CH: etc
Checking Your Progress
After all that tapping bring the situation to mind and notice how you feel about it.
On a score from 0 – 10, how impatient do you feel in this situation.
Rinse and repeat as necessary
While using this process I have found the section on taking care of the waiting / wasting time part of the process very helpful in quickly reducing the emotional intensity of the impatience.
If you haven’t got the patience to work through the whole process you may like to try that as a short cut method for softening impatience.
Your experience my differ from mine but it might be worth experimenting with .
As always I am very interested to hear how you get on, use the comment section below this article.