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If Patience is a Virtue, We’re Trying to Mend our Ways

June 29, 2018 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

“The owner of truth” or in its native Portuguese tongue, “Dono da verdade,” has become one of our favorite new expressions. Folks who possess the trait know how to wait without becoming frustrated or even angry when everything doesn’t run as smoothly as a Swiss timepiece. They shrug, are mildly amused, heartily laugh it off or even rationalize that it doesn’t matter in the great scheme of life. If only we could all think this way and all the time.  

We’d like to think we’ve become more patient as we’ve aged, and in some instances, we have. Barbara has a lot of the time with a few exceptions. Margaret admits she’s fallen off the patience grid, too, periodically. 

Yet both of us do agree that we’re both more patient about some things. Take crying babies on airplanes. We know from raising our children decades ago it’s not easy to be toted along like hand luggage, kept in a car seat during a flight and stared at by strangers fearful they’ll be seated next to our little one. One of us also knows that a crying baby or four-year old just might be our precious grandchild.

Barbara is more patient about finding herself in a slow grocery line because the person checking out forgot one item and rushes to an aisle at the opposite end to get it, can’t find her supermarket card to get that day’s discounts or can’t recall her pin number to use her charge card quickly. She’s forgetful, too, and has great sympathy for anybody who has a “senior moment.” So, she passes the time prudently, lapping up the latest news in People, Us or National Inquirer magazines conveniently stocked there just for our perusal. In fact, she sometimes welcomes a grocery line straggler, so she can read all the juicy gossip. 

But when it comes to certain circumstances Barbara has become increasingly impatient. And she feels rotten to the core about it; disgusted with herself and embarrassed. Barbara tries to be patient most days with her elderly mother, who’s nearing age 99. However, she knows she’s not always so virtuous. Barbara is aware that her mother needs time when getting dressed, getting up after sitting down, fastening the seat belt in a car and eating and chewing properly. Barbara’s good at those moments, but she becomes impatient when she must listen to the same story again (and again) as if it’s on a loop and wishes her mother would speed up the ones she’s relaying--or better, not share them with her. These stories from years and decades past are quite interesting but would be more so if Barbara could find a new audience who’s never heard them. 

Barbara also finds herself less patient with those she’s waiting to receive a call back from or an email, primarily sources for her articles or contractors she needs to fix this and that. Why can’t people who are called or emailed know that an increasingly impatient person is at the other end of the phone or email thread and needs their response RIGHT AWAY, like NOW! Because this is happening so much more, Barbara has found that in the process she’s perfecting the art of becoming a nag, far from a virtue to assume. 

Margaret has become much more impatient when she’s driving in traffic. This has crept up slowly and imperceptibly. She never used to stress behind the wheel. She’d blast the radio and chill. Now, she’s anxious every minute which is ludicrous since she’s no longer racing to get to work at a certain time or rushing home to fix dinner. “What’s this all about?” she asks herself? Yet, when she’s volunteering, whether tutoring elementary school kids or mentoring 8th grade girls, she’s the model of fortitude and patience. All the energy she might expend getting upset about waiting in a situation beyond her control, she puts into being creative and present with the kids. 

So, what’s the solution? We’ve tried slowly counting to count to at least 10 to maintain our composure, we talk to ourselves “Why am I acting this way?” but who can think so clearly at such irrational times? We’ve tried to imagine a beautiful island where we might be instantly transported and leisurely sip margaritas to dull our angst. We’ve tried to envision a wonderful reward in the present rather than in an afterlife if we can master perfect patience. Sadly, we’ve found that rarely do any of these strategies work.  And is this lack of patience another sign of getting older?  

A millennial weighs in

Not necessarily so, we discovered after consulting with millennial marketing expert Taylor Lord, director of Community and Web Development at JumpStart Games who talks about how she’s consciously building that patience muscle. She says:

 

The best life lesson I have ever learned from my father, is patience (something I am still drastically trying to master). Patience in all aspects of my life; friends, family, work, sports, growth, you name it, he is the guy I turn to. He has a quote he always questions me with whenever I get a little too fired up; ‘Is this your bridge to die for?’ He is a big history and war buff, and the origin of this specific quote comes from World War II, the 82nd Airborne Division landing on Normandy.

“Their role was instrumental in defending control of a bridge along the Merderet River. While parachuting down, weather made the group scattered across the region, actually falling behind enemy lines in many areas. A very small fraction of the division found their way to the bridge and had one sole purpose - to keep enemy forces back and defend the bridge with their lives. They made it through days against insurmountable odds, because that was their bridge to die for. Putting that in perspective to my modern-day conflicts, a lot of issues do not seem to match up in that light. 😊 
 
“Whenever I feel myself getting a little hotheaded, I think ‘Is this what I am really going to put all my energy, forces, time and dedication too? Is this my bridge to die for?’ It helps me keep perspective and see the larger picture where my anger goggles can narrow that. Thanks Dad!”
 

This is helpful and gave us the impetus to take the next step and consult several online sites filled with advice. We found some more ideas at mindtools.com, which we may test and here share. 

  • Impatience can cause you to tense your muscles involuntarily. So, consciously focus on relaxing your body. Take slow, deep breaths. Relax your muscles, from your toes up to the top of your head.
  • Remind yourself that your impatience rarely gets others to move faster – in fact, it can interfere with other people's ability to perform complex or highly-skilled work. All you're doing is creating more stress, which is completely unproductive.
  • Try to talk yourself out of your impatient frame of mind. Remind yourself how silly it is that you're reacting this way.
  • If your impatience causes you to react in anger toward others, use anger management techniquesto calm down.
  • Some people become impatient because they're perfectionists. However, in addition to causing impatience, perfectionism can slow productivity and increase stress. Learn how to stop being a perfectionist.

Sounds easy, right? We’ll get back to you if any work effectively for either of us. Share with us your secrets if you’ve successfully overcome times when you once were impatient and are calmer. If so, we’re green with envy, and will work on that maddening transgression next.

 




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