Injecting Yourself with Patience

Impatience is a hallmark trait  of ADHD. It’s also the ugly sister of many of our other challenges.

For example, impulsiveness is, in part, related to impatience. We have trouble waiting to act. Instead, we react. We are restless because we are impatient with right now. We are disorganized because the next thing is more compelling than following through on the last thing. We interrupt because we are too impatient to hear what the other person has to say. And so on.
They say patience is a virtue. It’s really a skill. One that is cultivated over time, with repeated practice. That’s not to say that impatience is always a bad thing. It can activate you and prevent you from stalling. Patience won’t help you put out fires, but it will ensure you don’t wander off before they’re fully extinguished.
How do we get more patience when it seems so contradictory to the way we naturally operate? Most of us realize the benefits patience brings to our lives and our relationships, or at least the hazards that a lack of it afflicts.
But doesn’t learning to be patient require a bit of… patience?
My research indicates that yes, it does – usually. I’m curious though. Is there a way we can inject more patience into our lives… right now?
Injections are given to ill people for a variety of reasons. Two of those reasons are that 1) there is a need for the medication to take effect quickly or  2) the effects of the medication need to last a long time. So how can give ourselves a series of “patience injections” that will act quickly and, cumulatively, will have a lasting effect?

1. Conjure Your Saint

Do you know anyone who seems to have the patience of a saint? Or, can you imagine what you would act like if you had the patience of a saint? Most people have an ideal self in their head, one they only wish they could live up to. While judging yourself harshly against this ideal will only make you more perturbed with yourself, having a vision of your equanimous self can train you to respond patiently more often.

The most important part of cultivating patience is regular practice. Not all of that practice has to happen in the real world. It can happen in your head too.

Stoicism practice has its devotees starting off their day by contemplating everything that could go wrong. Simultaneously, they envision themselves being okay with whatever goes wrong and coping just fine. They also decide to love whatever happens – amor fati – because the good, along with the bad, are all part of one’s path.

If you visualize yourself coping patiently with your usual triggers, or just accepting whatever happens, your subconscious will feel better-prepared to deal with in vivo stressors.

2. Wear Your Halo

Once you’ve done some visualizing,  put  yourself into a situation in which you usually feel uptight. Connect yourself to the memory (because memory can also be assigned to imagined situations) of yourself acting patiently despite the triggers. Imagine that you are wearing a halo of patience, that allows you to act in alignment with that vision.

If you’re feeling particularly inspired, try donning an actual halo (aka a hair band, cap, etc) to symbolize your intention and remind you to act patiently.

3. Pay Your Penance (Practice)

You don’t have to feel patient to act patiently. If you have ever vented anger without restraint, you’ve probably experienced the phenomena of working yourself up.  The more you rant, the angrier you get.

The opposite can be true with patience. The more patient you act, repeatedly over time, the calmer you will feel. Of course, this is only true if you also teach your mind to be patient as well (see number 4).

There are lots of ways you can teach yourself to become patient by practicing frustrating tasks. In pursuit of Stoicism practice, one author suggests you get in the habit of doing menial tasks in a more challenging way. He uses the example of doing unimportant tasks with your non-dominant hand, like opening doors, opening jars, shaving your face or legs, combing your hair, etc, with your non-dominant hand. Try it for a few days.


Exposing yourself repeatedly to these kinds of innocuous frustrations can help build up your frustration tolerance in a gradual but impactful way.

4. Talk to Your Spirit

Impatience is not just an ADHD trait, it’s a human trait. We just have a lot of it.

It’s completely normal to feel impatient at times. But just because you feel impatient doesn’t mean you have to endorse those impatient feelings. When you’re feeling frustrated, recognize it – notice where the feeling sits in your body, take a deep breath and allow yourself to release the tension.
Remind yourself that the impatience you are experiencing is just a feeling. And like all feelings, it will pass. In fact, every moment passes, no matter how you are feeling. The only thing that is permanent is the impermanent nature of everything. Recognize this, and you’ll notice how impatience is really just a colossal waste of time.
Time is passing at its own rate, no matter how hurried you are. You might as well imbibe each moment as if it were a gift sacred, because it is. Being patient allows you to experience the gift each moment of your life brings to you, even the ones usually fraught with frustration.
What makes you impatient? How have you learned to become more patient over time? Let us know in the comments below.