One would argue that being calm and collected (a.k.a. patient) in all circumstances is an impossible feat. It’s true that impatience is woven into human experience.
Waiting in a long line to get your coffee while being late for work and getting frustrated at the employer for not moving faster is a simple example. Yet, we have all been in a similar situation.
Impatience can bring up a storm of anger and anxiety, often revealing a version of ourselves we didn’t even know existed. Shouting, throwing tantrums, or being irrational are a few paradigms of unexpected behavior.
Indeed, impatience can overpower logic and cloud our judgment, at times taking a toll on our psychology, relationships, or work. Being easily irritated can meddle with our ability to handle daily tasks, seriously affecting our quality of life.
If you are seeking answers to the question, “Why am I so impatient?” this article is here to provide them. We will examine the symptoms and triggers of impatience and learn how to replace it with patience and achieve peace of mind.
What Is Impatience (And What Is Patience)?
To better understand what the lack of patience is, we should explore what patience is in the first place.
Psychologist Sarah Schnitker, in her 2012 study, defines patience as “the propensity of a person to wait calmly in the face of frustration, adversity, or suffering.”
However, it does not only have to do with the racing clock. It also has to do with enduring or tolerating circumstances that cause discomfort.
For example, imagine explaining a complex math problem to a small child. It takes a lot of patience to complete this task without getting frustrated or giving up.
Now, impatience is the opposite. Instead of waiting, impatient people want their expectations and needs met immediately. When they are not granted instant gratification, they become restless, irritated, or even angry.
Symptoms Of Impatience
Most people don’t realize they had an outburst due to impatience until after the incident. But how can you tell you are losing your patience so you can take early measures to regulate yourself?
In other words, what are the emotional and physical signs of impatience that ring an alarm?
Emotional Signs Of Impatience
- Irritability: You may become easily irritated, agitated, or short-tempered over minor inconveniences or delays.
- Frustration: Impatience often leads to frustration, especially when things aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like.
- Restlessness: You might feel restless, anxious, or mentally agitated, as impatience can create a sense of urgency.
- Impulsivity: Impatience can lead to impulsive decisions or actions as you seek immediate solutions to problems.
- Anger: In more extreme cases, impatience can escalate into anger or even rage, especially when expectations are not met.
Physical Manifestations Of Impatience
- Increased Heart Rate: Impatience can trigger a faster heart rate as your body responds to stress.
- Muscle Tension: You may experience muscle tension, clenched jaw, or tightness in the shoulders and neck.
- Shallow Breathing: Impatience can lead to shallow or rapid breathing, which may exacerbate anxiety.
- Sweating: You might notice increased perspiration, especially if impatience is causing stress.
- Restlessness: Physically, you may fidget, tap your foot, or exhibit other restless behaviors as a response to impatience.
The Consequences Of Impatience
While it may seem no biggy, impatience can seriously affect various aspects of life.
If you are the type that internalizes their feelings, your impatience may lash out towards yourself. Let’s say you are stuck in traffic on the way to an important meeting. Instead of aggressively honking and cursing at other drivers, you appear calm but are brewing inside.
This can increase levels of self-blame and anxiety. Emotionally, you may start questioning your ability to manage time or handle stress, further undermining your self-esteem.
Physically, internalized impatience can manifest as tension headaches, digestive issues, or sleep disturbances, as the emotional stress you experience takes a toll on your body.
On the other hand, you may be unable to contain the emotions evoked by impatience. Have you ever shouted at your kids for not doing what they’re told or rushed someone to get on with their point during a conversation?
Getting easily irritated in -what seems like- uncomplicated circumstances can lead to social exclusion and strained relationships.
Impatience can cause misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and a lack of empathy, making it challenging to maintain healthy interactions with loved ones, colleagues, or friends.
Overall, impatience can hinder effective communication and cooperation, potentially impacting your personal and professional life negatively.
Impatience is one of the key characteristics of “Type A” personalities, as described by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman.
According to their theory, people classified as Type A are highly competitive, goal-oriented, and, notably, impatient individuals who often exhibit a constant sense of urgency.
One study performed among Type A personality college students revealed a possible link between impatience and poorer health.
In more detail, the higher they scored on an impatience-irritability scale, the more frequently they reported physical problems (respiratory disorders, headaches, and digestive upsets) and poor sleep.
Why Is Patience Important For A Balanced Life?
Patience is an essential component of a happy, serene, and balanced life. But what makes this virtue so important? Here are a few reasons:
1. Improved Relationships
You will find patience at the core of all healthy relationships. Patience allows us to listen, empathize, and understand, making us better friends, loved ones, or colleagues.
We become reassuring presences that hold space and time for others to thrive, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
2. Reduced Stress
Anxiety fuels impatience and the other way around, creating a vicious cycle of restlessness. On the other hand, patience allows for logical thinking that soothes anxiety.
When we’re patient, we don’t rush into decisions, allowing us to make well-informed choices. This, in turn, reduces the stress associated with hasty actions and their potential consequences.
3. Enhanced Mental Health
A patient mindset is closely linked to improved mental health. It enables us to stay calm and collected in challenging situations, reducing feelings of anger and anxiety. Patience also aids in developing a more positive outlook on life.
4. Increased Productivity
When we’re patient, we’re less likely to become overwhelmed by frustration, making it easier to focus on our tasks. Our judgment is not clouded, and we can function more effectively.
5. Improved Health
According to Schnitker’s study, there are associations between patience and a lower incidence of health problems. Reduced stress levels, improved sleep quality, and better overall well-being are some of the potential health benefits associated with patience.
Why Am I So Impatient? Impatience Explained
We have still yet to answer our main question, “Why am I so impatient?” Is your personality the sole thing to blame, or could there be another reason behind it?
Let’s explore some common reasons that could be driving you to lose your marbles when things don’t go quite as planned:
1. Unrealistically High Expectations
Expecting too much of yourself can be a significant driver of impatience. Even society often imposes certain expectations on us, such as achieving success by a certain age or attaining a particular lifestyle.
When you realize that your goals are farther from your reach or require more effort than initially expected, impatience can arise. The constant comparison to others and the fear of missing out (FOMO) can exacerbate these feelings, making you seek instant achievement of your objectives.
Also, having high expectations of others, like wanting them to behave and act in a specific way, can cause significant impatience.
This occurs when we place unrealistic demands on people, expecting them to meet our standards, timelines, or behaviors, and become frustrated when they don’t.
2. Having Unmet Emotional Needs
When emotionally drained, it is tough to remain patient when faced with challenging situations. When you’re feeling burnt out or stressed to your wit’s end, impatience becomes a natural response.
This is also true when you experience a lack of effective communication in your relationships. It can be challenging to remain patient when your needs and concerns are not addressed, and this can lead to irritability and restlessness.
3. Mental Or Physical Health Reasons
Impatience is not always a personality trait; it can also be a symptom of underlying mental or physical health issues. Conditions like anxiety disorders or hormonal imbalances (like hyperthyroidism or menopause) can heighten feelings of impatience.
ADHD, which affects attention and impulse control, is another contributing factor. Factors like lack of sleep, hunger, chronic pain, or discomfort can make you more prone to impatience as they create physical and emotional stress.
4. Having Too Much On Your Plate
In our modern, fast-paced world, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities and tasks. The “productivity culture” encourages us to do more in less time, and this constant busyness can lead to impatience.
Multi-tasking and being in a constant active mode can be draining, causing physical and emotional exhaustion. When you feel overwhelmed by the demands on your time and attention, impatience can become a coping mechanism, pushing you to accomplish things quickly.
5. Existing In Competitive Environments
Highly competitive environments, such as the workplace, can fuel impatience. In these settings, you are pushed to outperform others and achieve your goals quickly.
This forces you to view your colleagues as adversaries you should get better, faster, or more effective than. This constant pressure to meet deadlines and expectations can intensify the need for immediate results and the aversion to lost time.
How To Cultivate More Patience?
The next question that pops to mind is, “How do I stop being so impatient?” Are there ways to cultivate more patience and inner peace? The good news is that patience is a skill that can be acquired with practice.
Let’s explore some simple methods you can integrate into your daily life to better regulate your emotions and train yourself to be more patient:
1. Identify Your Triggers
The first step to regulating your impatience is identifying your triggers. Instead of denying your impatience, embrace it and study it. What are the situations or interactions that push your buttons?
Examples of common triggers include traffic jams, long queues, waiting for a response to an important email, or facing unexpected delays in your plans.
Keeping a journal to document your triggers and your responses can be a helpful practice. The more you understand about your triggers, the better you become at predicting or recognizing them, thus better regulating how you respond to them.
2. Do A Quick Reality Check
When you find yourself in a high-stress situation that threatens to make you lose your patience, consider doing a quick reality check.
Take a moment to step into the shoes of an “observer.” Try to see the event through the eyes of a non-participant. Ask yourself questions like “Why did this happen?” “Are my reactions justified?” and “How can I handle the situation better?”
This approach allows you to distance yourself from the immediate emotional reaction and gain a more rational perspective.
3. Do A Mindfulness Excercise
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for regulating negative emotions, including impatience. There are several mindfulness techniques you can try. One of the most accessible methods is deep breathing.
Take slow, deep breaths to calm your mind and body. Notice the sounds around you and the sensations in your body, bringing your attention to the present moment. Allow intrusive thoughts to pass by like clouds in the sky, acknowledging and letting them go without judgment.
4. Channel Negative Emotions Constructively
Instead of allowing negative emotions like anger, irritation, or restlessness to take over, find effective ways to channel them constructively. You can keep a stress ball on hand, whistle a tune, or tap rhythmically on your desk to release the pent-up tension of the moment.
However, it doesn’t need to end there. If you are often experiencing overwhelming emotions caused by impatience, you might get help by engaging in activities that help you vent. Talk about how you feel to a friend, doodle, or take a calming walk outdoors.
5. Try Therapy
Sometimes, despite our biggest and bravest efforts, impatience may persist. This is where mental health professionals come forth to provide an assisting hand.
If you find that your impatience significantly affects your well-being and relationships, don’t hesitate to seek therapy. Therapy can provide you with personalized tools and strategies to regulate your emotions and improve your life.
Why Am I So Impatient? Rounding Up
As I bid you goodbye, I want to make sure that you have kept one thing from this article. While impatience can be a personality trait, more often than not, it stems from external factors that can be controlled and changed.
Your question, “Why am I so impatient?” is a rational one. Trying to find the root cause is also the first step toward finding the best method to cultivate patience.
Indeed, impatience can take a toll on your mental and physical health, relationships, and daily life. By identifying your triggers and finding effective ways to regulate your responses, you can diminish these negative outcomes.
Patience is a virtue with a significant ability to improve our mindset, well-being, and quality of life. Yet, keep in mind that it is also a skill that can be obtained with conscious practice!