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
- 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
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.
Working through Impatience
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. Really, to me it seems that giving up is the main downside of impatience.
The thing is, you don’t have to give up! But in order to get past your impatience and actually get to your goal, 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. Many obstacles and challenges come up in life – even everyday obstacles like tiredness, hunger, and needing to go to the bathroom are things that interrupt our ability to accomplish our goals. But where it might be tempting to try and “power through”, not eating or sleeping or going to the bathroom, this can be detrimental to our health and thus also inhibit our ability to accomplish our goals, since the vehicle we use to get there (our bodies), becomes run-down if we ignore its needs. But just because we interrupt our work or play to go to the bathroom does’t mean we’ve given up! It is similar for much bigger obstacles, ones that you might not be able to manage quite as easily. But if you’re impatient, you might give up trying to overcome your obstacles altogether! And then where might you be? Perhaps feeling lost, or stuck in a rut, or unfulfilled in life.
Instead of giving up when you feel impatient, you can treat it as a signal that something is not working with your current mode of doing things. Actually listening to what your impatience has to say can help you manage the particulars of the obstacles you’re facing, obstacles that may be outside of your immediate awareness. This means that when you’re impatient, it seems that one of the most important things you can do for yourself at such a critical moment is to express your feeling of impatience to yourself as a means of understanding them. Below is a quick and simple exercise that may help you to work through your impatience and the issue that you’re impatient about when you feel impatient or like you want to give up:
- Express your feelings: When impatient or you feel like giving up, immediately open up a text document and on the first line write down an expression of your impatient or upset feelings. So any impatience, anger, outrage, fear, frustration, anxiety – express those feelings on line one, just as honestly and openly as possible. Don’t debate with yourself yet, just for the moment speak 100% from your impatient and upset feelings, as if you are talking as what you might describe as “your impatient side”. Get all the feelings out of you, like opening the floodgates and letting it all flow out.
- Respond: Now go to line two and respond as if you’re a different character, one who ISN’T feeling all those things. Maybe you’d describe this second character as “your persistent side”. Respond however you feel like responding to initial cascade of feelings. It’s the start of a conversation between these two sides, so it doesn’t necessarily have to use a whole lot of words. It can even be something like “Lol” or “…” or “orly”- just respond from that different perspective of the side of you who is not necessarily willing to give up or get frustrated just yet.
- Work Through and Resolve the Issue: Continue the conversation, shifting back and forth between both perspectives, expressing the thoughts and feelings of each, and moving to a new line each time you change perspectives. Just continue this until you reach some kind of a positive resolution. It may take a while, there might be moments of calm and moment of extreme emotion, but just stick with the process and work through the issues these two sides are in conflict about. Answer the complaints of your impatient side, and try to understand yourself and what’s really going on. And what might be “really going on”? Well, you might uncover something that you’re afraid of, and working through that might become the real issue. It is through this process of having this kind of inner conversation, though, that you may be able to more easily find out what those deeper issues are.
Through these three steps, you may be able to resolve the issue between your will to keep going and your feelings of impatience and being upset at obstacles, feelings which can lead towards giving up. Go past the surface issues of whether or not to give up, and the impatience, and get to the reasons FOR the impatience, and you may get to the root of the problem, and be able to resolve the issue and restore your sense of patience and put yourself at ease.
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 – 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
- 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
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