Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Patience. It's a Virtue. No, Really.

If you're like me, patience is not a mental resource that you have an abundance of. I think that's a common thing in this age. We're grown to become so used to having things instantaneously that we get very impatient any time that we have to wait at all. Twenty years ago it may have taken you twenty minutes to "dial-up" to the internet and pull up this site. Now, you can usually pull it up instantly from the phone in your pocket from wherever you're at. But the one time that your service lags and it takes twenty seconds, if you're like me, you may be cursing your computer (or phone or tablet) and furiously pounding that keyboard or pressing those buttons. Patience just isn't a virtue that most people have a lot of these days. That's why constantly design everything to be quicker. Nobody likes waiting.

Now there's nothing wrong with that. Waiting for things is no fun. You've got better things to do than wait in line at the grocery store, while the lady in front of you fumbles in her enormous purse for her checkbook. We lead busy and demanding lives. But do you find yourself getting impatient and cursing slow drivers and stoplights even when you don't have anywhere special to be? Sure you do! It happens to us all at times. But for someone with panic disorder this impatience can be the start of a massive panic attack.

Impatience and anxiety are old friends. They go way back, went to the same summer camp as kids and have kept in close contact ever since. When impatience gets you tapping your foot on the bathroom floor, while you wait wait for someone drying their hands with the air-dryer that was installed in 1981, impatience is on the phone with his old buddy anxiety. "Hey bro! This sucker here is so ripe for you! He's on the verge of a meltdown, come quick! This is gonna be awesome!" You're getting worked up over something that really doesn't matter, but your amygdala doesn't know that. Your being worked up makes that old "dinosaur brain" of yours think that there is a threat of some sort. It responds accordingly and that's when panic starts.

Impatience is a natural reaction. It hits us all at times, and some of us more often than others. But it doesn't get you anywhere. Have you ever seen that impatient driver who speeds and weaves recklessly in and out of traffic to "get ahead", and then you end up strolling up to that next stoplight right next to him? He didn't really get anywhere, except a little closer to that next fill-up. Sure he may end up getting to his end destination quicker by continuing to do this, but at what cost? It just isn't worth it to act this way. An impatient lifestyle like this will only cause you anxiety and bring you down. But how do you fight off impatience?

Some tips:

Breathe: When you feel yourself getting worked up, just take a deep breath and let your muscles relax. You will more calm and able to deal with the frustration before you.

 Plan: If you are running late for work, of course you are going to be tense and impatient. Set your alarm and get up a few minutes earlier so that you can take your time and still be on time.

Exercise:  Exercise is proven to make people more happy. It is also a great stress reliever. Being happier and less stressed will make patience come much easier.

Realize: The people or things that you are frustrated with usually aren't the actual source of your problem. Realizing this will make it easier to calm down. You may be frustrated with the people in the drive-thru who can't decide what they want to order, but there's probably an underlying issue there. Maybe you're really unhappy with your job or upset with your husband for leaving his socks on the floor again. Identify what the real problem is and deal with that. And in the moment you can let the indecisive Taco-Bellers live another day.

Sometimes the frustration can be very persistent. Sometimes you really do have reason to be upset. People can often be inconsiderate and rude. You may be able to talk calmly with them and sort it out that way, but usually this won't end well. The best thing to do is just take a deep breath, and say to yourself "this too shall pass". It's probably really not that big of deal in the grand scheme of things, so it's best to just let it slide. The jerk jumping in front of you to take the last grapefruit may have your blood boiling now, but when you're old and on your death bed will you still be thinking about him, wishing him ill? Doubt it. You probably won't even remember it all the next week.

Just don't let impatience get the best of you. Keeping calm in the face of frustration, no matter how big or small, will always benefit you in the long run. So keep your head held high, and try to live a more calm and happy life.

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