And the story goes…
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
“How much is an ice cream sundae?”
“50 cents,” replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied several coins in it.
“How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress frowned impatiently.
“35 cents,” she said brusquely.
The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.
The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier, and left.
When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw.
There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies – her tip.
In a complicated world that constantly tells us to hurry and do as much as we can as quickly as we can impatience is common- even among the most patient among us.
We’ve all been the waitress—you’re keeping up with the pace, on track and then—a delay not of your own making hinders your goal. Frustration creeps in. Your impatience button is pushed and your attitude sours while a small part of your reasonable brain is whispering — this isn’t the end of the world, it just feels like it!
So, what can you do when your impatience button is pushed? Here are five suggestions:
1- Realize feeling impatient is normal and your responsibility.
Congratulations! If you’re reading this article because you recognize feeling impatient more often these days then you’re on the list of aware human beings. And some of you tend to become impatient sooner than others. It isn’t wrong – it’s just the way you roll. Taking responsibility for what you do with your impatience – that’s all yours too.
Impatience is a normal response to goals which take longer to achieve than expected. The reasons for the longer time can ‘cost’ you in the following areas:
- financially with additional time and money required.
- socially with more time working, away from family and friends.
- emotionally with increased agitation and later guilt (the waitress).
- credibility due to missed deadlines.
- better opportunities that come along which you’re not available for.
Impatience is usually the result of a frustrated goal. It’s a normal response which you can manage – and need to manage.
2- Use your awareness to pause and soothe yourself.
When impatience strikes, take some time to calm and soothe yourself. Breathing slowly and deeply is possible anywhere and takes seconds. Let your reasonable mind take charge and coach you to relax and surrender to the possibilities.
My client was able to do just that when she realized she would be a few minutes late to our appointment. She values timeliness and felt agitated driving toward my office on a familiar route with more traffic than usual. For her, focusing on a favorite song helped her relax. She was pleased she didn’t call me though she thought about it — she was only five minutes late — not a big deal.
She was able to manage the impatience she felt by pausing to soothe herself with music and a reasonable mind.
3- Practice positive identity statements several times during the day.
If you want to improve on managing impatience, make your efforts conscious. Create an identity statement to read daily, several times a day like this:
Starting today, every day, I’ll feel more calm, at ease, at peace, tranquil, serene, more composed, more placid less easily worried, less anxious, less easily upset.
Write it in your calendar, post it on your laptop, program your phone to remind you in the afternoon to read the statement again. It’s simple and powerful.
4- Take a deeper look at what your impatience is telling you.
So here’s the really fun part. Get to the nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts behind your experience with impatience. I like what Jim Stone says about reprogramming impatience in his article. Ask these questions:
- What goal is being frustrated right now?
- What are the reasons for the frustration?
- Do I need to approach the goal differently, choose another goal or accept the reality of what’s going on?
You may quickly recognize triggers for impatience and be able to correct your environment in advance so the impatience isn’t experienced. For example, when writing an article or proposal distractions are disruptive so putting the phone on airplane mode, letting others know you aren’t available and turning notifications off for FB and email helps.
Learning to say no to loved ones can be a great way to take the pressure off, manage potential impatience and pursue goals unencumbered.
5- Remember to tip yourself and others regularly.
Are you planning to take breaks from your routine? Do you share happy conversations and good times with friends and family? Have you shared a hug or enjoyed a walk today? When was the last time you complimented the grocery checker or slowed down to let someone into congested traffic?
Tip yourself and others regularly – especially when you or they are impatient.
Hey, the kid is onto something.
Mary Franz LCSW, PCC is a couple’s therapist, critical incident responder, and personal strategy coach. Need to talk about a personal or business relationship challenge? Visit her website and ask for a complimentary strategy session.