How’s Your Patience Quota These Days?

Written by on January 5, 2015 in Emotional Mastery with 26 Comments

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way. ~Fulton J. Sheen

How's Your Patience QuotaI will admit it; I am not by nature a very patient person. Oh, I’m pretty dogged when it comes to pursuing long-term goals, but on a daily basis it seems I’m always pushing, pushing, pushing to pack just a few more things into the day.

How about you? How’s your patience quota these days? Are you able to easily tolerate waiting in lines, traffic delays, or frustration at those around you who never seem to be moving quite fast enough without becoming agitated or upset?

The world gives us PLENTY of opportunities to strengthen our patience. While this truth can definitely be challenging, this is a good thing. Patience is a key that unlocks the door to a more fulfilling life. It is through a cultivation of patience that we become better parents, powerful teachers, great businessmen, good friends, and a live a happier life. ~Steve Maraboli

I think patience is one of the more underrated virtues, after all life is full of situations that can test our resolve; the customer in line in front of you ready to chat up every person they come in contact with, the friend who is forever showing up late, having to wait for a co-worker to finish a report you need to complete your own work, or the driver who cut you off in traffic. And let’s not overlook the impatience we feel with ourselves when we fall short of our own expectations.

Fortunately patience can be cultivated over time and here are a few tips to get you started.

Strategies to Increase Your Patience Quota

Know Your Triggers

Learning to recognize triggers belongs at the top of the list because very often that “final straw” that results in your loss of patience is not the actual trigger. For example, let’s say your boss tells you at noon that you’re going to be required to work late, and isn’t at all sympathetic when you tell him your in-laws are coming for dinner. You begin stewing and for the rest of the day your patience level grows progressively shorter with every one you come in contact with, until the poor schlep that happens to turn his report into you half an hour late is your “final straw,” and you blow.

The trigger was the original message delivered by your boss, but that resulted in the progressive eroding of your patience, and ultimately loss of control at the end of the day.

By learning to identify triggers and the circumstances that make it difficult for you to stay focused you can become proactive about developing effective strategies to remain calm and avoid stressful situations.

Give People the Benefit of the Doubt

Just because someone cuts you off while driving doesn’t automatically mean they are doing it to irritate you personally, in fact it’s likely their behavior has absolutely nothing to do with you. They may be so wound up with what’s going on in their own life they’re not even aware of you – granted, not great in traffic, but there you are.

I remember reading a story about a man riding on the subway in New York one evening when another man boarded with his 2 children. The children immediately became noisy and unruly and fought with each other, all apparently falling on the father’s deaf ears. Just as the first man was about to say something to the father about controlling his children, the father looked up at him with sad eyes and said, “I’m so sorry, they’re not normally like this, but you see we just came from the hospital where their mother died this morning.”

Rather than assuming people are simply being rude, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. We all carry our own wounds and are fighting our own battles.

Think Before You Speak

When we’re feeling anxious and frustrated it is SO very tempting to blurt out the first thought that comes into our heads without considering the consequences. The problem is, once those words come out of your mouth they can never be reclaimed.

Self awareness is the key that will enable you to detach for a moment to regain your center, take a deep breath and think about what you really want to say, if anything at all.

Slow Down

This one has always been a challenge for me, but here’s the thing. If you find yourself feeling rushed while going about your normal day with no obvious reason, take a break to refocus. Will the world end if you get home five minutes late? This time of year in particular, with people getting back to work, school and “normal” routines after the holidays, you can assume pretty much everything you do will take a little longer than usual.

But regardless of what time of year it is, giving yourself the gift of allocating extra time for whatever you do, will go a long way toward helping you remain calm and reduce stress.

Redirect Your Energy

Patience is not the rejection of our anger or pain, but simply a redirection of that energy. Would you really rather use your energy mentally rerunning how angry you are with your insensitive boss, or find something better to occupy your mind?

Meditation or a deep cleansing exercise such as yoga or Tae Chi, or simply taking a walk in nature works wonders for many people. Participating in a sport is also an effective and positive way to redirect your energy.

Stay Focused on the Things That Matter

Happiness is a choice. Happy people are simply less likely to get annoyed over the little unimportant things in life. When you nurture yourself by getting enough rest, spend quality time with the people who matter in your life, and are well nourished, you are less inclined to react when a child is crying, or a waiter is rude, or your tasks take longer than expected. Take time for yourself and work on the goals for your happiness.

Patience is a skill and a virtue, not an inborn talent, and therefore can be acquired by anyone with the will and desire to learn. There will likely setbacks, but that’s to be expected when cultivating any new behavior.

Even patience has its limits. Eventually it turns into rationalization, condoning and tolerating bad behavior, and taken too far becomes cowardice. ~Author Unknown

Keep in mind that not all patience is create equal, especially when it comes to determining where you draw the line in terms of expectations. In my next post we’ll explore when patience becomes stupidity, avoidance and condoning unacceptable behavior.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


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  1. People think I am so patient, because I raised 7 children and have homeschooled for 22 years and counting. But really, I’m not a patient person. The one I am the least patient with is myself, because of my weaknesses and shortcomings. That’s why I so need to write down what I’ve accomplished each day, because often I do more than I think I do, and it’s only that the results are not so obvious or dramatic on a daily basis.

    Great tips for being more patient — especially the ones about giving others the benefit of the doubt, and focusing on what’s most important.
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…Week 15 – WordsMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      I know you’re also a fan of keeping a journal Willena, so I’m sure that must help with keeping track of your accomplishments – and yes, I have no doubt there are many more than you tend to give yourself credit for! Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  2. Beth Niebuhr

    I am less quick to judge impatiently as I age. When I was teaching school, I gave parents good advice on how to deal with their problems with their children but it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I came to realize that good advice doesn’t always work. You’re point about not knowing what the other person has dealt with that day is very valid. I still need to develop more patience. Nice post.
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted…How to Escape the Multitasking TrapMy Profile

  3. Hi Marquita,

    I am not patient when it comes to developing my business as I am too on fire to help the people who really want to make a difference, more money and have a more bliss. I have experienced slow and frustrating times in my businesses and what I have realized is it’s my focus being on problems that has me seeing only problems. I need then to shift of solution thinking. It is always a chance for me to uplevel my commitment, my mindset and my skills and to get help, so I am not spinning my wheels.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…Worthy Business Goal Ideas for 2015My Profile

  4. Erica says:

    I definitely could use work at times on patience. I think that you are right that the thing that can make you go off is usually the final straw, and not the real cause of your troubles. There is a lot of road rage where I live, and I feel like a lot of people are just working out their life frustrations with the car horn. You give some really good advice and I especially like how you talk about happiness being a choice.

  5. donna merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    What a great topic: Patience. Without it, it can spiral us to a frenzy. I think the most important thing we can do is recognize our “Triggers”

    The more we can understand ourselves and what triggers us, the better we can achieve patience.

    We just came from the holiday season and the entire family met in California. I chose not to go. I know my triggers: I like to have privacy and don’t like staying over someone’s house for a week. Then there are too many people there and I know I would loose it because there is no order. So I stayed home and watched my grand children open their gifts under the tree via Ichat.

    Now, family members could judge me all they want but as the saying goes “not my monkees, not my circus” so I do have patience when it comes to that.

    Triggers…they are so important for us to know!

    donna merrill recently posted…Look Back To Move ForwardMy Profile

  6. andleeb

    Hello Marquita
    When I opened this link from Linked In I was surprised to check the title.
    Couple of days before I was in little depression and was impatience and to motivate me I write about patience and published it.
    I went through whole post and enjoyed it a lot, as I was thinking about all what I was thinking about Patience and writing and was you have written.
    It is nice to know that many people across sea think about same thing. It is nice to be patient and it is key to success.
    andleeb recently posted…Let’s Practice Patience.My Profile

  7. Phoenicia

    I could do with some more patience! My tolerance levels are pretty low but improving each day.

    I do not become frustrated in certain circumstances i.e. sitting in traffic/train delays. I struggle with people who do things very slowly and with no enthusiasm.

    Like you, I cram too many things in. I also worry that I am not networking enough/ploughing into my business as much as I would like. I set myself very high expectations.

    Brilliant thread with great tips on how we can develop our patience.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Will you pursue your passion in 2015?My Profile

  8. Elissa Joy says:

    Love the suggestion Marquita!
    Of course remembering to do this head of the time the patience are needed is so important, usually when I hit that impatience wall all the logic heads out my brain and I am in total emotional response.

    I have grown more patience.. I think that having kids helps.. I have needed to learn to flow with other people’s agendas that are not on the same timeline as mine. 🙂

    Looking forwards to reading more!
    Elissa Joy

  9. Tim

    Growing up and spending my childhood being told to slow down and think before you speak your post resonates with me…in a good way. I think I have slowed down and become a thinker with age 🙂 Giving folks the benefit of the doubt is something I have worked on in the past and always tell myself to put the shoe on the other foot. It works and keeps me level headed I hope. Staying focused that’s the one I work on now…all great points for all of us to remember.
    Tim recently posted…Population OneMy Profile

  10. Mary Hill

    My patience is fine, but my focus isn’t. I have to many irons in the fire and I am disabled, retired. Just have to take time to focus and be patient if I don’t see results right away. Thanks for sharing.
    Mary Hill recently posted…Wordless Wednesday — Grand TimesMy Profile

  11. Donna Janke

    I could relate to so much in this post. I too can be determined and stick at something, but I am not a very patient person. I am also busy and try to pack in too many things. I laugh about the universe conspiring to teach me patience. Each time another lesson arises, I realize I haven’t learned it yet, but I am getting better.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Contemplating CubaMy Profile

  12. It’s not been my strong suit, in years past, but I have found that patience is a “learned” virtue! I can’t say hat I am always successful at NOT blurting out the first thing that comes into my mind, but I can say that I DO work harder at it. The reward, for me, has been a more peaceful existence in recognizing that I cannot change the length of the line at any store…so I just breathe. I’ve got a blog waiting that speaks to the benefit of the doubt. It’s a luxury so few afford each other these days. You’ve given one of the best examples that I have seen:) Enjoyed the read immensely!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…A Cold… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      I hear you Jacqueline and patience has always been an uphill battle for me as well, but awareness is key and you’re right to keep working at it because it can be learned over time. Thanks for contributing to the conversation! 🙂

  13. Lenie

    Happy New Year Marquita, these are great tips on improving your patience level. I am rather an impatient person always wanting to get to the end of the job, story or whatever but will say that out in public I tend to keep my patience under control. I did enjoy your story about the father and his children, just goes to show we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
    Lenie recently posted…Car Emergency Kit – NOT in the Trunk, Please.My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Welcome back Lenie and I’m so glad you found the article worthwhile. That story I shared really touched me as well, it was originally about perceptions which I think still applies beautifully in this case. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. 🙂

  14. Ellie Walsh

    Patience … I have a lot more now than I did years ago.

    Some of that could also be because I moved out of the bustle of NY city to the serenity of upstate NY. It is a very different way of life up here …

    But I still can get impatient with me … and as I was reading I was thinking my avoidance of doing certain tasks is absolutely all about my patience level when doing it! … As I got to the bottom of your post – I see that is what you will be talking about next. 😉
    Ellie Walsh recently posted…Does the Law of Attraction Work in My Business?My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Glad you enjoyed the article Ellie. My family is originally from Yonkers and I’ve had the pleasure of traveling all over New York so I know very well what you mean about the difference in atmosphere up north. I hope you’ll stop back later this week for that follow up where I dig a little deeper into the good, the bad an the ugly of patience. 🙂

  15. Emi

    Beautiful post I always enjoy your articles and learn a lot.
    My favorite tip is ‘Redirect your energy.’
    Thank you for the great post.
    Emi recently posted…Instagram Content PhotosMy Profile

  16. Dave

    Hmm, now I am eagerly awaiting your next offering 🙂 I can certainly relate to procrastination being veiled in the virtuous name of said patience.

    Many years ago, I read the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The story you refer to about the subway station comes from his presentation about paradigm shift.

    Without making the idea of being patient sound trivial (because I surely know that it isn’t), I will borrow from Stephen Covey once again. There is always a moment between stimulus and response. In that moment, we have a choice. And in that choice lies our best opportunity for personal growth.

    I have been that car who has been cut off, and I have been the car doing the cutting off. More often than not, the times I have pulled in front of someone was either accidentally or because it was an emergency. Giving that other person the benefit of the doubt is such a wise decision to make. In the end, it probably helps me and my outlook on the day more than anything.

    I am certainly not a patient person. I admit that wholeheartedly. But, I can also say that in those moments where I do choose patience, my whole world just flows so much smoother. Ironically, I can handle more, I make better decisions, and the people around me benefit as much as I do myself 🙂

    Another wonderful article, and I am definitely looking forward to the next in the series. Thank you Marty, as always – great stuff!
    Dave recently posted…HopeMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Always value your insightful comments Dave! And thanks for mentioning the Stephen Covey book, which happens to be tucked away in one of my book cases so I’m sure that’s where I read the story. I agree with your point about the very different experience we have when we allow patience into our lives, so I know it’s definitely something I’m going to be working on this year. 🙂

  17. Mark

    I really enjoyed reading this article M!

    And it sounds like your next post is specifically about me!LOl!
    So I can’ wait to read that one as well!

    It really does seem like every time I visited the store to buy some much needed patience, they were always sold out!LOl!

    And I really love your story about the man on the subway with his kids and how the other passenger was about to speak until he heard the fathers explanation for his kids behavior!

    What an extremely powerful lesson! Thanks! I’ll definitely share this one!
    Mark recently posted…Seven Little Known Facts You May Not Know About Your Target Market!My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Glad you liked the article Mark, and knowing what a go-getter you are I’m not surprised you might run short in the patience department. I do think patience helps us to experience a better quality of life, but as someone who has also been guilty of hanging on to things (and relationships) way beyond the expiration point I felt it was important to present the good, the bad and the ugly of this virtue. So stay tuned for Thursday’s post! 🙂

  18. Rick Herranz sr says:

    Hello friend
    Just want to say your post is challenging me in a good way. You are a inspiration to help me RISE to meet these challenges in life. This is new for me to have the new growing capacity to RISE AbOVE and not keep taking THE DOWNWARD SLIDE. I appreciate your work and what you are doing for us. I am comming out of a lot of past abuse and trauma, and I find your work on Emotional resilence a ideal in which I want to travel. This ideal is both a short term goal as well as a long term goal as I forsake past emtional pain and traumas and emtional disease to move towards emtional health and emtional resilence. Thanks for being a light and true inspiration for me today. You are making a differnce out here.

    • martyherald says:

      Hey Rick, welcome back and Happy New Year to you! I so appreciate your kind words and for taking the time to let me know that you are gaining value from what I share here. Really means a lot! 🙂

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