There is the question of how to develop patience. Most parents wish they had more of it and certainly want their children to be patient. The development of all virtues begins with awareness. This week I asked students if they showed more patience what parents would think. All of them agreed that they would believe they were growing up and showing maturity.
I would agree with that assessment. But it worries me that so many of us adults lose our patience. Does that mean that we are less mature? We would be quick to say NO to that question, but what is it a sign of if we are not able to show that kind of self-discipline?
I think that the lack of patience and control of our emotions boils down to selfishness. Any selfishness begins with our personal needs. We expect young children to show a lack of patience with tantrums and crying. Their world is very much about them. But as we grow up we recognize that others have needs also, and our empathy and compassion allow us to be patient with them.
Just asking ourselves a couple of questions may help us to role model patience for our children.
- What are the results that I would like to see from this situation?
- Five years from now will this situation still be important to me? Will it matter?
- I wonder what the other person is feeling right now?
We have all heard the suggestion to take a few deep breaths before we respond. The real point is to pause, take the breath (as that get more oxygen to the brain so we can think more clearly) and ask yourself an appropriate question. Doing so will help us be more patient with our children or help teach our children the sought after virtue of patience.
Who has shown you patience in your life? I think about those that have been patient with me, and some of the first ones that come to mind are the teachers that I have had. All through school all of us have had teachers that connected with us and helped us beyond the typical school day. They may have been math or English teacher, or they may have been coaches and instructors that helped us learn a new skill.
Our most outstanding teachers in our life are our parents, and they have demonstrated the most patience with us over the years. For all the time since we have been born they have patiently helped us learn to walk, use utensils, play games, dress and the list goes on and on. Can you imagine if when you were just a year old and tried to learn to walk if your parents did not have patience with you? Could you imagine them screaming at you, “WHY CAN’T YOU GET THIS? KEEP THIS UP AND YOU WILL NEVER WALK!” Of course not. They patiently guided us, helped us, encouraged us and then we learned.
We accepted their help, appreciated their patience (even though we did not know it was patience at that time) and then we were proud of our new found abilities and promptly had them chasing us all over the house and playground. Take a minute now and think of all of the other times that others have been patient with us. Are we still accepting it with appreciation or do we take it for granted?
Expressing our gratitude for the patience of others will be amazing to them too. As an instructor, I would feel so good about a student who sincerely thanked me for my time and efforts, especially if they said they appreciated my patience.
One more way of showing our appreciation for the patience of others is to do our part and practice the skill or the instructions we have learned. If we do not practice what our parents, teachers, instructors or coaches have suggested, we are degrading any words of gratitude we may have spoken.
The practice of patience asks us to be able to wait for our turn. It may be in school if we are a child, in line at the store or at a traffic light if we are an adult. When we are finding it hard to wait, all kind of thoughts goes through our mind. We wonder, sometimes out loud, why it is taking so long. We get restless and fidget. Words of disdain may come out of our mouths that we wish we could take back. Why does this happen?
Think for a minute about impatience. When a person is not patient, they are not able to tolerate anything that gets in their way of getting what they want – when they want it. It may be a chance to get food, win a game, get where they are going. The only person they are thinking about is themselves. They are not considering what the other people may need or what they are experiencing. In other words, they are selfish.
I have found though that it is not always about selfishness. Impatience may be born out of a dislike of something regarding ourselves. We may not be happy with who we are as a person. Consider for a minute that we are very goal oriented, constantly in a rush to reach a goal or finish something we envisioned. Are we enjoying the present moment and the journey? If not, we may believe that achieving the goal is what is going to bring us happiness. Is our happiness based on completing a task, project, fulfilling a vision? Or are we covering up a fear of not being seen as good enough by others? Therefore, we push – even others out of the way to reach our happiness. Once we get there are we happy or do we go through the cycle again?
Patience is about being in this moment. We can be goal oriented and have a vision. But our vision and goals should never be put up as more important than the people and relationships we have around us.
Sometimes I have to practice patience by waiting for the world to catch up to me. Sometimes I have to practice patience by waiting for me to catch up to the world. Either way, I must practice patience with the right attitude, without complaining.
In our world today, we have grown accustomed to having everything fast. Unfortunately, we have also learned to say and do what we want to, without having to wait. We have unlearned slowing down and allowing things to happen in there proper time.
This month we will be discussing the virtue of patience. Not just how to show patience, rather how to be patient. While the behaviors are the first steps, being rather than just doing is the growth we want from white belt to black belt.
Are we willing to allow life to take its course? Are we able to care for ourselves in a manner that allows development to find it’s natural way? What would it be like to listen to others so that we see the entire picture? How can we find our way out of the childish, self-centered attitude to maturity where we respect others around us and their opinions?
We will look at some of these questions this month. In the meantime, consider patience in your personal life. What creates the anxiety and stress you feel when you recognize you are losing your patience or when your children are doing so? What could you do to relieve that stress? What virtue would help to balance your life?
Each month we will discuss one gift of character with all of our students. This month the word is Patience. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.
Young students: Patience means: Waiting without complaining!
Older students: Patience means: Waiting without complaining for something you want and need
We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers and students to reach that goal.
If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.
In the words of Bruce Lee: “Remember, success is a journey, not a destination. Have faith in your ability. You will do just fine.”
Having faith in your ability is the same as self esteem. Having faith in your ability will also allow you to have patience with yourself, as you know you will reach your goal, even if it is not at the time that you wished for. When the destination becomes more important than the journey, stress levels increase and our happiness decreases. In fact even when we meet our destination our happiness for reaching the goal is very short lived.
This awareness helps us to define success in another way – other than reaching a destination. Success is knowing that we have done our best. Success is know that we have put forth the effort required to be all we are capable of becoming. There is no time limit on giving our best effort.
Success is a journey into our own peace of mind; a faith in our own abilities – not compared to others, but rather to our own efforts. Having this frame of mind will bring us happiness with ourselves and our relationships.
We will do just fine.