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Managing Impatience – Recognize What Triggers It

traffic-jam-688566_1920-1I am a very impatient person. I think I’ve stated this in more blog posts than any other negative trait of mine because I have found it has caused many conflicts in my life. I observe on a daily basis that I am not the only person who struggles with patience. I hear people honking car horns when traffic is at a standstill or sighing heavily when the line at Starbucks isn’t moving quick enough. I have watched people hit an already lit elevator door button several times in hopes that the extra pushes will get the elevator there that much sooner. I have seen and heard these acts of impatience, and I will admit I have done these things myself a time or two.

I have over the last five months become more patience in certain situations and owed it all to my husband, and I’s puppy, Alvin. But, I wanted to learn more about impatience, and I found an excellent article recently on Psychology Today by Dr. Jim Stone that outlines, The 7 laws of Impatience. I won’t go into all seven laws, but I want to focus on the first two that resonated something for me.

  1. In the first law, Dr. Stone describes impatience as ” a very particular mental and physical process that gets triggered under specific circumstances, and which motivates specific kinds of decisive action”. He is stating that impatience can arise in anyone; some people are patience in some situations while others are triggered and react impatiently.

I found this to be an important realization because at first my husband had much more patience than I did with Alvin. I felt guilty every time I got agitated with Alvin and my husband didn’t. I even found myself questioning my dog parent/ future parenting abilities. However, according to this article my husband and I have different triggers that sent off our impatience, and that is entirely normal. Recognizing what your triggers are is important when learning to manage them.

  1. The second law Dr. Stone explains is, “Impatience is triggered when we have a goal and realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to reach it.” The idea of not reaching our goal when we thought we would is what triggers the impatience.

I never thought that my impatience stemmed from not meeting a goal, I thought of it as a flaw in my personality. Nevertheless, it turns out in every situation there is a goal I am trying to meet, and when I realize it will take longer to achieve it, my impatient behavior is displayed.

An example is I grow more and more agitated every time Alvin jumps up on the kitchen table, and we have to pull him off and tell him “No.” My goal is for Alvin not to jump up on the table and while it would be splendid if he got this concept right away, that’s not realistic. Rather than becoming frustrated by this, I need to reevaluate my expectations and examine what I could do differently to help meet my goal.

When you feel impatient, ask yourself what is your end goal? Are your expectations for managing your goal realistic? Take some deep breaths and ask yourself if getting agitated will assist in solving the problem or will it make the situation worse?

I have already begun doing this in my day-to-day life with Alvin, with my husband, and with people at work, and I found it to be very helpful in managing my impatience.


Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management



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