Disclaimer: the following information was deduced from my own self-exploration, and while I aim to be honest, there are things I just do not know, or have trouble expressing. This information is here to help you solve your internal difficulties, and if it does not help, please seek help elsewhere, or within yourself. It is my experience that it is in your own difficulties that you can gain the knowledge of how to overcome that difficulty. In the end, stay true to yourself. This is only my perspective.
Definition of Impatience
A feeling or irritation or anger that comes when there are obstacles in the way of accomplishing something that one wants to accomplish, or in the way of getting to a situation that one wants to get to.
Probable Symptoms of Impatience:
- Anger or Irritation when interrupted from an activity
- Anxiety when it feels like something isn’t getting done fast enough
- A pattern of giving up in frustration in response to obstacles
- Difficulty finishing started tasks
- Difficulty solving problems of all kinds, including emotional ones
- Confusion, which may stem from rushed conclusions
- The actions of others can cause you to feel rushed
- A tendency to try to rush other people
- Difficulty seeing more than one way to accomplish a goal
- Metaphorical tunnel-vision, in the sense of focusing exclusively on one thing instead of the larger picture, which can lead to getting blindsided or not seeing other opportunities.
- Feeling lost, run-down, stuck in a rut, or unfulfilled in life (if impatience led to giving up)
- Negativity towards trying to address problems in one’s life. One could describe one’s life as “a mess”, with little action being taken to clean it up.
- Feeling defeated or negative
- Often acting with the purpose of escaping or finding release or relaxation, since activity and effort can put pressure and strain on you, and being impatient to escape that strain can produce outbursts of this kind of behavior, marked by the feeling of trying to quickly use up energy in order to relax during the recovery process afterward
- Making decisions before you’ve fully addressed your own doubts about that decision. This can create situations of guilt and self-mistrust, as well, since you might begin to feel bad about or distrust your own ability to make good decisions.
- Recklessness and/or depression
- Lack of discretion
What seems to cause Impatience
The primary cause of impatience seems to be fear. Specifically, the fear of not getting what one wants and is impatient for. Impatience seems to be a desire or fear-based craving to get something done. By fear based, I mean that it’s a craving that’s based in trying to escape NOT accomplishing the particular thing in question. This could be for many reasons. Maybe if you don’t accomplish the goal you might be in an embarrassing situation, or maybe your health might be in danger, or maybe the goal is just very precious to you, and if you don’t accomplish it you’ll feel like something precious was lost. Whatever not accomplishing your goal might mean, impatience seems to be all about being afraid of not accomplishing your goal, at least in the way that you want to accomplish it. After all, there are multiple ways to accomplish goals, but if, for instance, you were to be afraid of not accomplishing your goal within a certain time frame, you may get impatient if obstacles came up in your way that made it so that accomplishing it within that time frame started to seem less and less possible.
The anger in impatience seems to be caused by feeling of “it’s taking too long”, or rather that the time it’s taking for something to be accomplished is wrong. This may be rooted in the desire to get to whatever activity or state of being you’re planning to be at once the process in question is done. For instance, if you’re working hard on something and are planning to relax at the end and enjoy some free or down time, then if something comes up that means your activity will take longer than planned, you might feel anger because it seems like there’s pressure to put off or give up something that’s important to you (relaxing in this case), which can easily be viewed as wrong, which, in conflict with your desire to finish the activity, or simply with your awareness that the activity will probably take longer, might cause anger.
Impatience’s connection to Emotional Pain
It seems that impatience is partly fueled by emotional pain, that is, feeling like unfavorable conditions are not ok, and feeling disturbed by those conditions. It seems like it is partly the dread that comes with thinking a situation, one that we are unable to cope with, is becoming a possibility that fuels impatience as we seek to escape a state of emotional pain and devastation.
Impatience and Inner Conflicts
Impatience unaddressed seems like it can perpetuate an inner conflict. Your impatience can feel so intense and so urgent, that you let it lead your actions, rather than allowing it to be just a strong motivating factor in how you’re making your decision.
For instance, let’s say that someone’s upset at you, and you want to talk to them to make it right. But, at the same time, you don’t know what to say. If you are too impatient, you may rush into talking with them, and say things that aren’t considerate, which could end up making the conflict worse. On the other hand, if you take the time to stop yourself, and refuse to follow impatience, and work on what you’ll say, rather than just jumping to say anything, then you may find a sense of peace with how you’re approaching the situation, and, even if you do somehow upset the other person, it’s likely there’s a much higher chance that you’ll make things better.
In other words, following impatience can promote reckless behavior, and, in its role in perpetuating conflicts, may help to keep the symptoms and cycle of depression alive, at least according to the model outlined in this article.
Working through Impatience
First things first. Impatience is something that can try to push you towards decisions before you have a chance to really address your own objections. Impatience can tell you that things are urgent, that action must be taken. But must it really be taken? And what actions? In some respects, taking a stand against your own impatience, halting its ability to convince you to act, is the first step towards finding a solution. Without that, you’ll probably be too impatient to really work through things.
While impatience CAN seem like an important part of getting to one’s goal quickly, the very act of getting impatient can limit your ability to accomplish your desired goal. While this may seem paradoxical, the reason behind this is that when you’re impatient, it’s harder to see multiple pathways to your goal, or to have the patience to look for more pathways. And even upon seeing those other pathways, impatience can make it so you’re less willing to actually take the time to try them out. Instead, when you’re impatient, you’re only focusing on a narrow number of ways to accomplish your goal, and if those start to seem out of reach, you might give up. To me, it feels like there are two main downsides to impatience: giving up, and making poor decisions.
Just because you’d like to stop being impatient, doesn’t mean you have to give up. But the key seems to be about how to make better decisions about how to handle the obstacles that get in the way, effectively and completely. Two principles seem to be of the utmost importance: patience and persistence. Patience allows you to take the time to explore more options to get to your goal, despite the obstacles that come up, while persistence helps you to keep taking steps forward despite obstacles and setbacks.
That said, what will this process look like that you’ll be patient and persistent with? I’d say it’s the process of making unconflicted decisions. To do that, you can take the actions proposed by your impatience, and weigh them against your own objections to that very same idea. In your impatience, you may feel compelled to deny, ignore, or minimize any feeling that could possibly disagree with the urgent path, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Holding back your action enough so you can hear both sides can help you to understand the conflict at hand, and begin to reconcile both sides.
For instance, let’s say you’re impatient to make progress on a project you’ve got going. You may try to take action, but it seems difficult, a slog, confusing or draining. At that point, you can consider the other side – why might you object to working on the project? Maybe you’re feeling run down, or confused, or like you’d like to take a break. Maybe you have doubts about whether to even continue the project at all, or you might think there’s some flaw in your original thinking. These sorts of thoughts can sometimes seem appalling to your impatience, but, all the same, they can still be informative voices in your decision-making process. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, all-or-nothing. You can, instead, try to build a bridge between the two sides, and find something both sides can agree to.
Thus, working through conflicts can be key when it comes to impatience. Below is a several-step process for working through impatience when you feel it:
- Stop Following your Impatience: While you may not be caught up in your impatience – if you are, then the first step is to stop. Stop letting your impatience determine your actions. That doesn’t mean ignore it – you can still hold it in your consideration, and be aware of it. But following it can lead you down a path of recklessness and poor decisions.
- Write down what your Impatience wants to do: Find a place to write, and at the top, write the idea your impatience has for what to do. If you don’t have a place to write, you can try doing this in your head. What’s the action that your impatience is insisting on?
- Respond from your Feelings of Objection to Impatience: Why doesn’t the idea from step 2 work? What kind of feelings are there, that may be wanting to take a different direction? Try to put these feelings into words.
- Allow the Argument to Develop: Go back to your impatience, and have it argue with the perspective that was just brought up. Why can it not accept this other idea? Why is it not willing to let go of its own idea? Let it speak up for itself.
- Look for a Solution: At this point, carry the conflict to its end. This may take a long time, and there may be multiple smaller issues to address, within the scope of the larger issue. As long as the feelings are there and a conflict remains, just keep going with it, allowing each side to express each new feeling it feels within the context of this conversation. When the two sides reach agreement, you should feel things settle down.
These steps can help you to refine your decisions and reach a place of unity, or at least greater unity, in terms of what actions you’re willing to take. And this process respects both sides, not allowing either one to squash the other, meaning it should be appealing to you on both levels. This is about reducing a push-and-pull dynamic within you, where bad decisions can wreak havoc on areas of your life, and the choices you make can seem unsatisfactory, at least on some level. We can always justify our decisions, but we don’t necessarily always take actions that don’t disagree with us at all. Taking charge of impatience is about that you’d like to make good choices, rather than rushed and potentially deeply flawed ones.
On addressing the anger associated with impatience
Sometimes, it can be beneficial to hear your own anger out, rather than to try and push past it towards your goal, because maybe whatever is important to you, that’s causing the anger, is worth changing your plans for. For instance, if you were looking forward to relaxing after you were done with a project, if in the event you realize it may take longer than planned and you feel anger in response to the idea of having to wait longer to relax, it may be worthwhile to negotiate with the source of your anger in order to find some kind of middle ground that satisfies you, rather than working despite your anger, as this may make it more intense. In this example, one resolution that might work to address your anger could be to just take a break before continuing, if indeed it seems like there’s at least enough time, given deadlines, to do that. If not, maybe planning to have extra downtime after the deadline could work. Whatever works with the situation and with the source of your anger.
Addressing the emotional pain behind impatience
One tactic that seems effective, at least from personal experience, is to convince one’s self that the intended method of responding to the situation seems like reasonable enough to be confident in. For instance, if you’re impatient about getting through unexpected traffic to work on time, one way to respond to those impatient feelings might be to go through the scenarios that it objects to and that it refuses to calm down about – for instance how one’s boss might respond when you get there. Coming up with a plan of how to deal with the worst case scenario may help to calm down your impatient feelings, since by doing that you’re, in a way, teaching yourself how the situation will be ok even if things really do get “worse and worse”. In essence, you’re finding ways to cope with situations that you dread and may normally try to avoid, since it’s that dread that seems to be the main fuel behind impatience. After all, it makes sense that a situation that we feel unable to cope with would be one that seems worth avoiding.
Probable Benefits of working through Impatience
- A greater sense of ease when facing obstacles and making decisions – in other words a lack of disturbance, irritation, upset, or inner chaos
- More action from a place of rest rather than desperation and the desire to escape
- Greater flexibility when the unexpected occurs
- A greater ability to persist in the face of obstacles
- Less negativity
- More enthusiasm for life
- An easier time attaining clarity
- Greater capacity for balance
- Greater ability to stay in the flow and not get anxious
- Less giving up! And so, more goals reached, and more problems solved.
- More of a willingness to learn as a way of adapting to obstacles
- Feeling more unified inside in terms of what to do
- More of being able to stay with what truly interests you, even given the presence of risks
- Keeping a sense of perspective as you make your choices, thus able to make more balanced decisions
It is worthy to note that because impatience seems to take away from our capacity to solve problems, that by seeking to solve impatience first (at least in most cases I can imagine), we may free up our capacity to deal with everything else in our lives.
Ironically, we can get impatient with impatience too, but by striving for patience even with resolving impatience, we may be better able to find the solutions we’re looking for, the ones that feel right. This can mean feeling like we can take steps towards satisfying answers, rather than quick ones, such as on a physical, emotional, intellectual, or felt level.
Articles related to Impatience
Fear – What it seems to be and ways to work through it. Listed here because fear of not getting what one wants seems to be at the root of impatience.
Anxiety – Listed here because impatience can lead to anxiety, such as when obstacles get in the way of your flow and feel like there’s no way around them other than to give up, perhaps due to the tunnel-vision effect from impatience.
Negativity – Listed here because when one feels defeated and negative, it may just be one’s own impatience that’s leading to an inability to see other alternatives for action, and instead by fixating on the way or ways that have become blocked, one can become negative.
Find Your Curiosity And Move Past Failure – Article about how the force of curiosity can help you find your way again when you’re faced with obstacles in life – but searching with curiosity does take patience.
How Finding What You Love can Overcome Fear – Article about another way to help yourself overcome barriers more easily – choose goals that you love, and the obstacle of fear becomes easier to overcome, because you’re more willing to take risks and stay persistent when it’s for what you care about.
The Deep Darkness of Desire – Article about the force of fear-driven desire, listed here because impatience is basically the product of that kind of desire.
Calming the Desire for Immortality – This desire can be a particularly insistent source of impatience, trying to rush you along with promises of a glorious life where you will be made immortal. If you are dealing with this desire, this article may help.
Wikipedia Article on Patience – goes into different perspectives on the nature of patience and impatience.
Psychology Today Article on Metaphorical Tunnel Vision, which can be a result and symptom of Impatience