Working with Impatience

TurtleImpatience is unpleasant. When will I recover from these layers of grief? When will I stop verbally attacking my spouse? When will I find some peace in life? It’s that irritation fretting at the part where you’re ready to change but for whatever reason you haven’t been able to yet, and there’s little you can do about it. This state of readiness is important when you’re trying to accomplish something; you have to be looking forward to see the goal in front of you. But often impatience stops you from doing the actual work needed to change. How can one works with this irritation? Pema Chodron suggests:

When you’re like a keg of dynamite just about to go off, patience means just slowing down at that point—just pausing—instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You refrain from acting, you stop talking to yourself, and then you connect with the soft spot. But at the same time you are completely and totally honest with yourself about what you are feeling. You’re not suppressing anything; patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself. If you wait and don’t fuel the rage with your thoughts, you can be very honest about the fact that you long for revenge; nevertheless you keep interrupting the torturous story line and stay with the underlying vulnerability. That frustration, that uneasiness and vulnerability, is nothing solid. And yet it is painful to experience. Still, just wait and be patient with your anguish and with the discomfort of it. This means relaxing with that restless, hot energy—knowing that it’s the only way to find peace for ourselves or the world (pp. 37-54).

In this sense working through impatience doesn’t have to mean forgetting about your goals and aspirations, but rather realizing that they’re going to take time. The way to achieve your goals is mindfully slowing down, touching in with your heart, doing the best you can in the here and now, focusing all of your energy and attention on what you’re doing. This process will help you change in the long run.


Chodron, P. (2006). Practicing Peace in Times of War. Boston: Shambhala.

© Maria Stella, PhD. All Rights Reserved.

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