Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I get more patience?” Or said something to the effect of, “Oh, sweet Lord, help me have more patience!” I know I have. Having the ability to navigate troubling situations and people without losing your mind is crucial. In fact, it’s a key result of increasing your patience tools.
The tools we are going to discuss today will help you to hold steady in the face of difficult situations and people. With practice, these tools give you the capacity to have self-control, so that you have room to choose the most effective response.
So, let’s take a look at some of the factors that indicate you need to expand your tolerance in coping with physical or emotional distress or pain.
Indicators to Pay Attention to
- You catch yourself spending a lot of time thinking about the past, ruminating on past mistakes and problems.
- Maybe conversely, you worry about the future, and possible mistakes or problems.
- You’ve started isolating yourself because people drive you crazy.
- Addiction has become a coping strategy. You are drinking, drugging, smoking, eating, or shopping to the point that you are causing yourself problems.
- There are times when you find yourself taking your frustrations out on others.
- Avoidance is one of your strategies for dealing with difficult situations.
- You might find yourself trying to manage the world around you by becoming overly controlling.
- Ultimately you may find yourself using self-harming behaviors to numb or punish yourself.
What all these indicators have in common is that they have a cost. Each one takes an emotional and physical toll on you. And, none of these behaviors solve anything or increase our ability to navigate life effectively.
Having more patience available to us can be improved when we have the tools to navigate difficult conversations.
Four Tools to Increase Patience and Decrease Distress
Radical acceptance is a mindset shift. While you may not like a situation or how another person is behaving, you can change your attitude. And, trust me here, I know exactly how difficult this one can be. Yet, it is a useful way to look at your life and the situation you find yourself in, in hopes of having a better outcome. Radical acceptance is an idea that was first was discussed by Marsha Linehan in the early 1990s.
When you find yourself in a painful situation, your first reaction might be to become angry or upset. You might find yourself searching high and low for who’s at fault. Blame is a typical response to difficult situations. Still, regardless of who’s at fault or how terrible, awful, horrible a situation is, your pain still exists, and you continue to suffer. In fact, the more upset you get, often the worse you will feel. Anger is salt in a wound if you hold onto it past the point that it’s useful in telling you something. To learn more about How to Use Emotions as a Road Map for Life, check out this article.
Radical acceptance does not mean that you like or approve of a situation. It isn’t a free pass to put up with bad behaviors or allow yourself to get walked all over. It is only the acceptance of your reality. By accepting the reality, we can then shift our attention from being upset towards what steps need to take place to deal with the situation. It is also an avenue to let go of judgment and criticism. Both of which get in the way of giving ourselves and others grace. All you are doing with radical acceptance is acknowledging your present situation, whatever it is so that you can begin the work of moving forward and allowing yourself patience with the process.
Ok, that’s a thing, now how do I want to move forward?
Changing Your Narrative
As I have talked about in other articles, How to Tame Your Snapshot Stories and How to Handle Stress Like a Navy SEAL, we say a lot of crap in our heads. We give ourselves limits, we work ourselves into fits of fear or anger, and we magnify the awfulness of our situations. And, we do all this with the narrative we start running in our minds.
Changing your narrative doesn’t mean that you take a tough situation and turn your thoughts into some Pollyanna perfection. All it means is taking what you are saying and challenging the most negative and often disempowering elements. If I am in a situation where I am frustrated, and on the verge of losing my mind, then it’s about normalizing the frustration and giving myself space to think of a new solution.
Here are some examples:
- “I can’t stand or handle this” shifts towards, “I don’t like the situation, but I can and will get through it.”
- “It should never have happened, it’s wrong!” shifts towards, “I can’t change the past, yet I can influence the future.”
- “It’s not fair!” moves towards, “It is what it is… What next steps can I take?”
- “It’s horrible, awful, terrible.” Becomes “This moment is a culmination of tons of decisions. Where do I need to go from here?”
Distracting yourself can be one of your most useful tools in your toolbox for expanding your patience. When we are angry or frustrated, our automatic responses can either get us in trouble or at the very least, make a big mess that has to be cleaned up.
Never press “send” immediately on an angry email… just say’in.
Take a time-out from the annoying situation. You can do this in many ways:
- Take a walk; even a short walk can change your perspective
- Pick up a good book and read a few chapters
- For that matter, listen to a good book
- Flip through magazines
- Watch a funny movie
- Take a shower
- Naps too are useful distractions
Basically, give yourself some space from the situation. I personally enjoy taking a drive to clear the cobwebs out. Seeing something different or moving into entirely new surroundings can help you ultimately get back to balance. And, balance and breathing are both super supportive of engaging your ability to be patient.
This technique is somewhat connected to distracting yourself, but you can also self soothe in the moment when maybe you can’t leave. There has been some interesting research on how having a cool drink when you’re getting upset and heating up can help you calm down. And, conversely, if your frustration runs towards getting cold internally, having a warm tea or soup can soothe your senses.
Having a useful mantra can help to calm you down, “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok…” helps me out often. Rollback up in this article and develop your positive narrative for dealing with frustration.
I find that having realistic expectations or adjusting my expectations can help find and increase my patience in the moment. If I am dealing with a puppy, then I need to remember all the normal things puppies do, being conscious and realistic is exceptionally useful. Again, if you have time, then taking a bath, or listening to a good book or your favorite music are brilliant ways to soothe yourself. As mentioned, they can also help to distract you from what is annoying you and working your last nerve.
Last thing – You got this!
Take some time and develop plans for how you can take care of yourself. Having a plan for challenging your negative feelings, or a plan for distracting or soothing yourself, can take the pressure off when you find yourself about to lose your mind. Plans can help you become more patient.
Being frustrated with yourself, or a situation or another person is all part of being human. Acknowledge the feelings you’re having, and then aim for an effective response. The tools we have discussed, with practice, can give you the gift of freedom from self-suffering. You own them all already and can access them whenever you decide to. All this is the invitation for you to stretch into being a much more patient person.
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What is your favorite way to distract and/or self soothe yourself?
- How can you help yourself to engage your patience before you react or respond?
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article originally posted on Dec 2, 2019. Updated April 23, 2023.
Great information. I need to practice this.