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