Hand in hand with maintaining composure is having patience. In today’s fast-paced culture, it can feel like patience is a luxury we can’t afford. Technology provides instant communication and access to information, and with it comes the expectation to respond to external demands in real time. For example, supervisors text subordinates outside of business hours about non-urgent matters, wanting an immediate response. The expectation to immediately respond isn’t limited to external demands. So often students place the demand to perform on themselves. This expectation to respond immediately to everything that grabs their attention erodes the ability to be patient.
Being impatient with yourself or others is a defense mechanism against feeling uncomfortable. You want to skip over what is uncomfortable to get back to feeling safe or less intimidated. For some doctoral students, that looks like impatience with their progress. They are in a hurry to nail down their dissertation topic or choose a theoretical framework or write the literature review. And when they can’t do these things quickly, they become frustrated with themselves. The problem with operating from impatient energy is that the engagement becomes painful and demotivating, increasing procrastination.
Cultivating patience is the antidote to feeling impatient like there is not enough time in the day to handle all responsibilities. Patience is the capacity to accept difficulty, trouble, or delay without becoming upset or angry. In other words, experiencing difficulty won’t derail your mood or behavior if you employ patience. The patient student whose supervisor’s feedback is delayed doesn’t waste their time and energy obsessing over why or getting into a snit. They look for things they can accomplish while they’re waiting for the feedback to come.
How to cultivate patience
Like composure, patience takes practice to cultivate if you have a pattern of being emotionally reactive. When you find yourself being reactive to delays or difficulties, slow down and give your full attention to the problem. Ask yourself, what is triggering your feelings of impatience. Determine what problem needs to be solved. Listen very carefully to yourself, without judgment. That part is key. Judgment is always a part of impatience. Strip away the judgment from the situation and with a clear mind, proceed.
Practice, practice, practice
If you are used to impatiently pushing through instead of carefully evaluating your next move, this exercise may seem daunting. It is common behavior these days to respond as fast as you can. But when you slow down and be patient with yourself (and others), you can find the best in yourself. Practicing patience often brings more peace to your life. Patience creates space.
If you struggle with patience, a coach can help you identify why and how to become more patient. I’d be happy to help you. Click here to get started.