The Power of Patience and Anxiety Management

· December 6, 2018
Training yourself to be more patient isn’t easy. But if you do your part to develop a more positive and trusting attitude, you’ll be able to deal with stress and set your sights on your own well-being.

The mind often goes faster than life itself. One of the keys to slowing down is practicing the power of patience. Try to nourish a positive view of the world while you cultivate your ability to wait. Make room for a habit that allows you to let go of anxiety, pressure, and worries. That way, you let things happen in their own time and at the right moment.

Experts seem to have differing opinions on whether impatience is a learned behavior pattern or an innate trait that some people are born with. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: our social context fosters this sense of dissatisfaction and makes us want immediate results. That’s why it’s difficult to wait for things. People end up feeling constantly helpless when they realize that things aren’t under their control.

What comes first: Anxiety or impatience?

We also don’t know if our impatience leads to anxiety or if anxiety itself makes us less tolerant of waiting. Nevertheless, what we do know is that the two are a perfect pair that trigger stress and an overactive brain. They can cause insomnia, fatigue, trouble concentrating, lack of motivation, and, of course, unhappiness.

A basic, yet effective strategy to regulate these emotions is to develop patience. It’s important to understand that cultivating patience isn’t an easy task. That’s because the brain becomes used to certain thought patterns. If you introduce your brain to a more calm and optimistic approach, it’ll display some resistance. However, it’s possible to cultivate patience.

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”

-William S. Burroughs-

Two hands practicing the power of patience in the forest.

The power of patience for a better quality of life

The result of constant impatience is anxiety. The combination of the two can be devastating. They can lead to physical problems like muscle pain, headaches, heart palpitations, or digestive problems. Impatience is like malware that gets installed in your brain. Once it’s there, it starts to activate cognitive distortion mechanisms.

It starts as soon as you wake up. If the coffee doesn’t brew fast enough or the bus that takes you to work is a minute late, you assume you’re going to have a bad day. If you don’t complete the outline for the project you had in mind today, you know you’re going to feel frustrated and desperate. Consequently, being in a hurry is like a poison that distorts your thoughts and your mood.

Albert Ellis, the famous cognitive psychotherapist and advocate of rational emotive behavior therapy, talked about the effects of uncontrolled anxiety. If your anxiety is running wild, it’ll take over your life. As such, patience is the ideal approach to help you regain control.

Self-regulation is the key to patience

In January 2018, the University of North Florida in Jacksonville did an interesting study on the power of patience. Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology Dominik Guess was the head researcher of the study. The study revealed that, in certain cultures, patience is more meaningful to people due to a very concrete psychological function: self-regulation.

  • Self-regulation is, above all, self-control. In other words, it’s the ability that allows you to manage yourself and your reactions to pressure and outside events.
  • The approaches to working on self-regulation require you to develop the following characteristics:
    • Reflection.
    • Emotional management.
    • Self-control.
    • Assertiveness.
    • Social abilities.
    • Tolerance.
A guy superimposed on an image of a forest.

Training the four pillars of patience

We have to clarify some ideas about patience. People often understand patience in the wrong way and relate it to passivity, resignation, or the simple ability to wait for something. To get a clearer picture of what it really means, let’s take a look at the pillars of patience. These are characteristics that you should start developing today:

  • Patience is freedom. It’s an emotionally liberating practice that teaches you to wait, observe, and know when to act.
  • Patience is compassion. This aspect of patience implies being respectful to yourself. You shouldn’t be hard on yourself just because you aren’t able to do things the way you expected. You have to help yourself, value yourself, and learn to be your own best ally.
  • Patience leads to movement and action. Patient people aren’t still. They also haven’t given up, nor are they isolated from reality. On the contrary, the power of patience allows you to save your energy for action. It lets you tap into your intuition so you can better understand when the best time to act is.
  • Trust and optimism are the seeds of effective patience. Patience implies a certain amount of trust in inertia. You have to believe that things will happen at the right time on their own. Having a mind that goes faster than life itself is useless if everything important happens in the here and now.

In conclusion, remember that patience is concentrated strength. It’s also a virtue people who have learned to manage their emotions and thoughts have. These people know that everything has its moment.

Sometimes we try to rush through life when it really needs to be enjoyed and appreciated slowly. Relax, slow down, feel confident that you’re moving in the right direction, and rely on the power of patience.

  • Ellis, Albert (2004). Cómo controlar la ansiedad antes de le controle a usted. Barcelona: Planeta
  • Calle, Ramiro (2001). El arte de la paciencia. Martínez Roca
  • Zimmerman, B.J. & Moylan, A.R. (2009). Self-regulation: Where metacognition and motivation intersect. En D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky y A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of Metacognition in Education (pp. 299-315). New York: Routledge.