The undue virtue of patience
November 5, 2010 9:46 AM   Subscribe

How can I practice more patience with life?

I noticed when I really want things to happen, especially, in love, I tend to get antsy and impatient. I can be incredibly shy getting what I want so it comes out thru actions (for example: stealing a kiss from a guy I like but not telling him I really like him and want to go out) Stupid, immature things like that. I noticed, everytime I'm patient and don't expect much, things happen, but when I desire it and think about it all the time, what I want doesn't come to me. It drives me mad especially as a person having OCD. So, what are some tricks and tips that can keep me on an even keel of calm energies to the point where I forget about what it was I desired most? I tend to be happier that way but have lost the tools to let things go. Please help!
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't believe you're asking a question that can really be answered. "How an I be more patient?" is essentially "How can I be a different person?". There's no magic solution and anyone who says there is is lying. The best I can suggest to you therefore is to apply the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy.
posted by Biru at 10:15 AM on November 5, 2010

I second CBT otherwise for me, Prozac has helped with the anxiety/OCD. You may want to discuss with your doctor.
posted by stormpooper at 10:26 AM on November 5, 2010

All we have is now. Tomorrow or the very next moment is not guaranteed. Concentrate on the now as much as possible.

"All we have is this moment", "all we have is now", "kill the ego" an "let the ego die" are phrases I repeat to myself in times of anxiety and neurotic thoughts. They help me a lot. These phrases help me from ruminating and spiraling into crippling anxiety. The best thing for me is to focus on practical things and living life in practical ways (hobbies, exercise, work, cooking, chores, etc.), focusing on existing relationships with family and friends, and treating myself and others with kindness.

As far as romantic love and romantic relationships -- it might happen and it might not. There are no guarantees. All we have is now. Act accordingly. You cannot will another person to love you. You will not find love with obsessive thoughts. Love yourself and others, focus on the here and now, live with honesty (I like you. I would like to go out with you.) and let the ego die.

Another helpful thing for me is to acknowledge the emotion. Actively acknowledge anxious thoughts and emotions as soon as they surface. "I am feeling antsy and impatient." "I am feeling very anxious now." "I am longing for love right now." "I feel lonely." When I acknowledge the emotion it subsides more quickly and I can get back to the practical and "real" aspects of life.

Try welcoming the feeling and make friends with it but don't necessarily act on it. Don't make impatience or other anxious thoughts the enemy. "Oh, I am feeling impatient again. That's okay. It will pass." And it does.

I have gotten quite good at welcoming and acknowledging anxious and neurotic thoughts. So much so that the anxiety does not crop up as much as it used to in the past. I would say it's a rare thing for me when it used to be frequent.
posted by Fairchild at 10:32 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recently asked a question about medition. Please take a look, you might be interested in what people had to say.
posted by aeighty at 10:33 AM on November 5, 2010

A frequent meditation for me is "you can't control other people".

It helps me focus my energy on changing things I can actually affect, and let go of things that are out of my hands.
posted by momus_window at 10:43 AM on November 5, 2010

The only thing I've found to work when I'm in similar antsy circumstances is to distract myself. Keep busy, sometimes with more than one thing. Listen to music or a podcast while cleaning the house or building/making something. Bake something and rearrange your spice cabinet. Always have a book or two with you, so that you don't obsess while waiting in line or for your food at the deli. Keep a pad and pen with you to write down ideas for projects or hobbies you'd like to try.

If you can distract yourself, you might just find that when you're with the guy you like, you'll be telling him about all the awesome things you've been doing, rather than not listening to him because you're thinking of how to jump his bones.
posted by aspiring polymath at 10:56 AM on November 5, 2010

What worked for me was the realization that impatience doesn't accomplish anything at all, except the feeling of impatience. If you can internalize that idea, it might help. I had "patience satori" standing in line at a bank—maybe you'll just have to wait for it to happen to you?
posted by interrobang at 11:53 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

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