Learning to wait is a good way to become less impatient

What could be more loving for a granddaughter than a snuggle with Grandma who is perfectly relaxed, loving and caring? | Getty Images

Q: I am an impatient person. I don’t scream and shout or go on a tirade when I am upset but I let those around me know that I am less than satisfied with the way things are going. I fidget, pace, nag, breath with deep exasperation and sometimes clear my throat incessantly. Believe me, the message gets out. I have been like this all of my life and really never felt all that motivated to changing, to becoming a more patient person.

However, now that we have grandchildren it is a whole different matter. One of our four-year-old granddaughters does not want to come over to Grandma’s house because it is too scary. Wouldn’t that throw you off?

I want to fix this thing, to be less impatient, but I am not sure how to go about it. What do you suggest that I do?

A: Let me begin by congratulating you on your decision to make as much of a change as you can toward a life of greater patience.

You have more than a four-year-old granddaughter at stake here. Your own peace of mind is a significant variable, something that will gradually become more important to you as you work your way through what has been a life of impatience. This much I can assure you. The more patient you become, the more satisfying your life will be.

I have four suggestions for you to consider. The first is to learn to wait for your outcomes, the rewards or paybacks for what you do. It is called delayed gratification and our studies show that those who are able to wait, who commit to delayed gratification, are happier souls in the long run.

To learn to wait, start slow. You can sit down with your morning cup of coffee but wait for five minutes before you drink it. Give yourself five minutes after you have made the bed before you rush off to your other responsibilities. Sit in the car for five minutes before you drive to work. Wait for five minutes before returning calls to your mother-in-law, and so forth. Those five minutes are going to seem like the longest five minutes ever, but over time, they will become less onerous and you will find yourself becoming more relaxed.

And that is the key, isn’t it. You cannot be relaxed and impatient at the same time. They are at odds with each other. And by waiting just five minutes you are giving your peace of mind the upper hand in the battle.

Suggestion number two is to sit down during the day for the next short while and put all that you want to do that day into a list of priorities.

If you are like most impatient people, you will find that you are doing, almost daily, innumerable things that do not need to be done. The truth is that they do nothing but clutter up your day. But they also take time and the more time that they take, the less time you have for prepping for work or making supper. Watching Jeopardy on TV is fun and interesting but if it is getting in the way of baking a salmon fillet then it should likely be ignored.

Number three is empathy. I suspect that you don’t mean to do so but the truth is that you likely hurt a lot of feelings when you are impatiently calling someone out to task.

Take a moment now and think about it. Imagine how you would feel if someone treated you with impatience, fidgeting around, pacing or nagging just because you were a touch late, or maybe even a little imperfect.

You can apologize to them now, and that would be helpful to both of you, but even more so will be treating your family and friends with the healthy respect each of them deserves.

Finally, and this is the easy one, breathe deeply. When you find yourself being impatient inhale your oxygen as deeply as you can. It will knock off a few of those impatient cells en route to your stomach muscles and help your body relax.

What could be more loving for a four-year-old granddaughter than a snuggle with Grandma who is perfectly relaxed, loving and caring?

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: jandrews@producer.com.

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