We're often cautioned to be patient, and told that patience is a virtue. That said, it can be hard to hold onto this message when you're eager to see big changes in your life.
Indeed, you might sometimes struggle to see the wisdom in being patient. However, as it turns out, patience is a crucial ingredient of success.
But why is the case? And what can you do to better cultivate patience when it just doesn't come naturally to you?
In this guide to achieving success through patience, we'll start by looking at the roots of impatience – why you might find yourself unable to wait, and anxious about the passing of time.
From there, we'll continue to look in-depth at four concrete things you can do right now if you want to learn how to be patient. Finally, we'll close by considering the role patience has to play in manifesting your dreams.
Have you ever been called an impatient person, or simply felt like one?
Impatient, in brief, means not feeling able to wait.
This might be for a particular event, or a person, or even a date.
Sometimes, impatience can manifest in starting something before others show up – such as beginning a project or eating part of a meal.
Impatience usually also refers to a certain kind of feeling.
When you are impatient, it's normal to feel agitated – anything from irritated to furious, depending on the person or the situation. But why do some of us end up like this? Where does impatience come from?
You can become an impatient person for all sorts of reasons.
For example, one common modern root of impatience is our use of technology.
When we spend much of our time clicking between different windows on our laptops and scrolling through feeds on our phones, our attention span may begin to wane and we may start to expect everything to happen instantly.
In other cases, impatience may come from what you saw in your family growing up. You may have gotten a message like “you snooze, you lose”, implying that you need to do everything quickly to succeed.
And even if you didn't get this message as a child, you might acquire it through your own experiences. Perhaps you were slow to act on something, or slow to show up for something, and it had devastating consequences.
From this type of experience, it's all too easy to conclude that you need to rush at everything.
When thinking about the causes of impatience, it's also helpful to think about how your brain can get stuck in two certain kinds of loops.
The first is similar to an addiction cycle.
Basically, if you rely on something to feel good, you can begin to suffer withdrawal and want that thing to return more quickly.
This might be about accessing something online (e.g., a game, porn, shopping, social media), or it might be food, alcohol, or gambling.
Anything that gives your brain a dopamine surge of pleasure can lead to reliance.
And reliance makes you feel very impatient for another spike of pleasure.
The second kind of impatience cycle has more to do with anxiety. If you worry about particular things, you can become impatient for proof that everything is going to be okay.
For example, panic about a loved one traveling can make hours feel like days, as you wait to hear from the person. And nervousness about a job interview can have you awake all night, both dreading and wanting the interview to be over.
Plus, if you feel anxious, your body feels impatient on a physiological level too – you sweat, you fidget and your heart races.
So, now you have a handle on some of the major triggers for impatience, and perhaps have a clearer idea of what it looks like. But what can you do if you want to learn how to be patient?
Here are four practical techniques that will help you make this shift, starting today. If practiced consistently, they can help you leave your impatience behind and transform you into a calmer, happier person.
The parable of the tortoise and the hare is probably where the phrase “slow and steady wins the race” comes from.
In this story, the hare is the faster animal but ends up losing due to wasting time and taking naps. In contrast, the tortoise lags behind to start but keeps moving consistently, and this works out better.
The first thing you can do to develop patience is to think about how to apply this message to your own life.
One exercise that might help you internalize this message is to make a list of times when rushing led to a negative result for you.
This might include sloppy assignments, times you weren't happy with your appearance, and relationships you jumped into.
Next, make a list of times when consistent approaches got you what you wanted. Common examples include sustained weight loss or fitness improvements, studying over many years, and getting to know someone before making a commitment.
Secondly, when you're feeling impatient one of the best things you can do is to deliberately slow yourself down. Try taking a series of slow, deep breaths to a count of ten.
Alternatively, go for a walk somewhere quiet and peaceful. There are no rules about what to do – anything that relaxes and slows both body and mind is an antidote to impatience.
To reduce episodes of impatience in the future, try to build relaxation into every day.
This can stop impatience before it even arises so that you eventually don't even have to work to deescalate impatience.
Think about how you can decide 30-60 minutes a day to doing calming things.
These can be different every day – for example, one day you might go for a soak in the bath while reading a book, and another day you might listen to soothing music with your eyes closed.
Mindful meditation takes your commitment to relaxation even further so learning how to be patient with mindfulness is very important for the soul.
As with the above techniques, you can use it both to calm down when impatient and to actually maintain patience over time.
As a bonus, studies show that sticking to a mindfulness practice offers a wide range of benefits, including a more stable emotional life and a healthier response to stress. If you haven't meditated before, don't worry – it doesn't need to be complex to work.
One good beginner's exercise to promote patience is body scanning. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and move your awareness all the way down your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
Relax the muscles in each area you focus on. Feel your body loosening, and notice your heartbeat lowering. This is also a great technique to tackle insomnia, as it's deeply relaxing.
Once you have a handle on it, you can try all kinds of other meditation exercises.
Fourthly, if you want to have the patience for the rest of your life, you can do things to actually train your mind out of impatience.
One such method involves deliberately delaying gratification – in other words, forcing yourself to wait for things.
Start with something small, where the stakes are low, such as waiting just five more minutes for coffee, or ten more minutes before starting the chores.
Use that time to do something relaxing, or simply sit and breathe with your eyes closed.
In time, you can work up to bigger things, eventually slowing down everything that you used to rush through and feel angrily impatient about. As you make these changes, keep track of the benefits.
What are the positive changes to your mental health? What are the practical changes you see in the results of what you do? And are people in your life responding differently to you?
Now that we've looked at how to become more patient, let's end by thinking about the implications for manifesting your goals.
Perhaps it will come as no surprise to learn that patient people are better at manifesting, and impatient people often report that the Law of Attraction “isn't working” for them.
What's going on in such cases? One issue is that in reality, manifestation takes time and patience is key. You need to identify the right goals, align yourself with those goals, and work toward them. So, an impatient attitude is quite simply an unrealistic one.
Secondly, and more interestingly, impatience makes it much harder for you to align with your dreams and goals in the first place.
When you're impatient, your focus is totally on what you don't have, and your negative feeling about how you don't have that thing. Consequently, you vibrate on a low frequency and one that attracts more negativity and absence.
In constant, the patience person lives with gratitude, knowing that good is coming. This person vibrates on a high frequency of abundance, drawing more and more positivity into their life.
So, if you take the time to work on your patience, you'll see real-life benefits in your ability to achieve your goals.