When I was younger, I considered myself to be a very impatient person. I got frustrated and annoyed pretty easily. I was always getting fired up about something.
Early on in my mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, I would get frustrated and snap at her pretty often. I blamed it on the fact that I was an impatient person, as if I couldn’t help it. I wished I could be more patient with her, but I just wasn’t a very patient person.
What I failed to realize at the time is that patience is not something you’re just born with. It’s not something you either have or you don’t.
It’s something you develop.
It’s something you cultivate.
It’s something you grow.
I didn’t just wake up one morning and magically become a patient person, which by the way I now consider myself to be.
I developed more patience over years and years of dealing with an unrelenting, uber-frustrating disease called Alzheimer’s.
I wanted to change. I wanted to have more patience. So I began to practice it. Not only with my mom, but in all areas of my life.
I began to pause for just one breath when I felt frustrated or annoyed and in that one breath, I would remind myself to respond with calmness, empathy, and love. I would remind myself to have gratitude. I would remind myself that my mom would be gone someday and I would wish to have this moment back.
It didn’t work all the time. My patience wasn’t perfect. I still got frustrated and annoyed at times. But with each pause, with each breath, with each reflection — my patience grew. And so did I.
If you are struggling with having patience, I would ask you to pause for just one breath. And in that one breath maybe you say a mantra or maybe you step outside yourself to look at yourself or maybe you just remind yourself of what will be.
And then respond.
Or don’t respond at all.
It takes time. It takes practice. But it’s possible to become a more patient person.
Take it from one formerly impatient person.
It takes a lot to get me fired up these days.