Impatient People – “I Want it All, and I Want it Now”

October 23, 2019
Impatience makes you rush through life, frustrated, angry and unhappy. Although it isn't easy to get along with an impatient person, there are some strategies that can help you.

Impatient people are everywhere. You know the ones. They’re constantly frustrated, and nothing satisfies them. When they’re happy, their happiness is short-lived and laced with anxiety. In the next instant, they need more. Few things feed negative emotions or make it so difficult to get along with someone like impatience.

Most of us know someone like this. Or maybe you have an impatient temperament that’s difficult to control. But what does living this way do to you? What are the emotional and psychological side effects of impatience?

First of all, living this way leads to serious stress and anxiety. British writer John Ruskin said that hope stops being joyful when it’s accompanied by impatience. Thus, impatience limits your well-being and makes it hard to get along with other people. If you learn to manage it, you’ll be a more peaceful, patient, and centered person.

Impatient people get angry quickly.

Impatient people and their constant frustration

Some people believe that impatience is on the rise, especially among young people. Nowadays, children and teenagers have a very low tolerance for frustration. They need instant gratification, “likes” on their photos, and constant positive social reinforcement.

The problem, however, is more complex than just social media addiction. For example, a study from the National University of Singapore analyzed a group of over a thousand students and yielded some very interesting results. Dr. Xin Zhang, co-author of the study, indicated that there’s a relationship between impatience and cognitive and social incompetence.

Impatient people are impulsive, act without thinking, and are incapable of enjoying the here and now. They also tend to pass judgment very quickly. Impatient people don’t think much about the information they receive because they have a short attention span and are reticent to changing their minds. When you’re always in a rush, there’s no time to consider other perspectives and learn from them.

Impatient people also tend to have more relationship problems. They’re difficult to get along with. When they want something, they want it now. They don’t have the respect, understanding, and emotional intimacy that’s needed to connect with others.

Impatience isn’t simply a lack of patience, it’s a lack of education

At its core, impatience is a learned behavior. Your culture, context, and upbringing determine how patient you are. Parents often fail at teaching their children to wait patiently and accept the anxiety of not getting instant gratification.

Instead of waiting patiently, you lose your mind when the Internet connection is slow or when someone doesn’t respond immediately to your text… Patience has to be taught at home and at school. However, each individual is responsible for practicing it every day, even as society tries to push you along at 200 mph.

A man standing under a giant clock.

Tips for controlling impatience

You can turn your impatience into patience if you learn how to control your emotions and immediate impulses. To do that, reflect on the following questions:

  • When do I get impatient? What’s the usual context? It’s worth stopping to analyze these situations that get out of hand and wake up your inpatient side. For many people, driving makes them impatient. For other people, trying to raise a challenging child or teenager or even just generally trying to get along with people.
  • What triggers it? The second step is to identify the triggers. Here are some examples: “I get impatient when my son takes forever to get up in the morning to go to school”, “I feel really impatient when I’m in a traffic jam”, or “I can’t stand to wait for test results, it puts me in a bad mood”.
  • What do you do to deal with impatience? Try to be aware of whether or not you use some strategies to control your impatience. Are they enough?
  • Apply a rational focus. A useful strategy to deal with impatience is to work through the problem with your rational mind. For example, if you get anxious when your teenage son seems unconcerned about his responsibilities, try to avoid getting mad at him. After all, being in a bad mood will only make things worse. Instead, talk to him in a patient way and reason with him so you can come to an agreement.
  • Mindfulness. Lastly, it’s a good idea to look into strategies such as mindfulness because they can be incredibly useful for calming an impatient mind. They also help with attention and emotional management.

In conclusion, it’s clear that impatient people will always exist. In certain circumstances, everyone has the potential to behave impatiently. Nevertheless, you should use the proper strategies and means to train your mind to stay calm. It’ll greatly improve your quality of life.

  • Chien-Kai Chen (2012) Comparing Jiang Zemin’s Impatience with Hu Jintao’s Patience Regarding the Taiwan Issue, 1989–2012. Journal of Contemporary China. https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2012.701034
  • Reuben, E., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2015) Procrastination and impatience. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics 58, 63–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2015.07.005