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  • Writer's pictureReflective Resources

P is for Patience

Persevere peacefully

Accept what is

Trust the processes

Identify and defuse emotions

Endure consistently

Never lose hope

Chose calm

Embrace the moment

“Patience is a virtue, a little wouldn’t hurt” you is an old adage I heard whilst growing up. But what is patience and why is it not always easy to acquire?

What is patience?

Patience (or forbearance) comes from the Latin patientia meaning ‘patience, endurance, submission to’ and from patere, ‘to suffer.’ The quality of being patient, combines the two and can be described as the ability to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like or simply put it is the ability to wait and bear things without agitation. Having patience is about having the ability to let any tumultuous thoughts come and go without disturbing our inner calm or resorting to ill thought out knee- jerk reactions rather than intentional responses.

Patience is one of the most difficult qualities to develop in our fast-paced world:

“What do we want?”


“When do we want it?”


Many people live in an on-demand world where our expectations reinforce our impatience when we can’t access things, do, get or respond to things immediately. As technology improves, we learn to become frustrated after just a few seconds delay and can change tack or jettison things completely rather than have the patience to let things take whatever time they need which leads to the question as to whether technological progress is actually eroding our patience.

Even before technology took prominence, our egos and our thoughts made it difficult to exercise patience or to keep the bigger picture in mind. For example, in the checkout line, or a traffic jam, we often become impatient and our ego tells us that our time or purpose is more valuable than anyone else in front of us, despite knowing absolutely nothing about their circumstances and what they are going through that day.

In the early 2000s Scientists discovered that there was a common language of 24 character strengths that make up what’s best about our personality. Everyone possesses all 24 character strengths but in different degrees, so each person has a truly unique character strengths profile. Psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson divided each character strength under six categories of general human virtue, which are universal across cultures and nations. Even if patience is not technically considered a strength it is definitely a virtue and a skill worth developing!

“Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything." George Bernard Shaw

How being impatient can affect us negatively

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One minute of impatience can ruin a whole life” Chinese Proverb

Impatience causes us to be reactive and persistent impatience can cause ill-health by increasing feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, dissatisfaction, frustration and failure.

“To lose patience is to lose the battle” Mahatma Gandhi

Impatience can ruin relationships with family, friends and colleagues. When we are impatient and believe that the world should operate according to our wishes and our timetable, it creates tremendous stress in our bodies as stress in those around us.

When we are impatient, resist and refuse to accept our circumstances or others as they are, it can give rise to unhelpful behaviours including trying to manipulate and control others to get what we want or trying to ‘fix’ everyone and everything. Such behaviour can then result in subsequent feelings of guilt for inappropriate reactions or frustration when we try to push through or force things at the wrong time. There is a time and place for everything . Kairos time is important not just chronos time. It can be harmful for ourselves and others if we attempt to force what’s not yet suppose to fit into our life or is not appropriate for others at that particular point in time.

When you’re impatient, your life can seem like a chore and the task in front of you just something to get over and done with as you try to rush more quickly into the future, but it is in your rushing, that you miss out on being in the present. Impatience rejects the present moment. It rejects reality and the way things are on the grounds that things aren’t as they ‘should’ be believing that the present ought to be replaced by a more ideal future.

Love is patient, love is kind..……

“Patience is to accept and tolerate. We have to accept these days even if we don't agree and we have to tolerate even when we feel threatened, but with patience we can still love ”

Anna D

The opposite of impatience is acceptance and when we learn the art of being patient, the easier and more peaceful our life can become. When we’re patient, we have time to reframe our resistance and then we can learn to relax and enjoy our life, our relationships, and experience the beauty of each moment for what it is.

What is the symbol of patience?

The turtle or the tortoise has been regarded as the personification of patience in many legends and fables such as Aesop’s The Hare and the Tortoise because of its slow, considered movement. By working with deliberate determination, just like the story

“Our patience will achieve more than our force” Edmund Burke

The advantages of being patient

“Have patience with everything that is unresolved in your heart. Live in the question”

Rainer Maria Rilke

When we are patient we learn to slow down, and in taking our time it gives us greater opportunity to appreciate and see the complexity in life.

"Genius is eternal patience." Michelangelo

When we are patient we are more likely to be able to take in all the information that is being communicated to us which leads to a greater understanding and more wisdom. This greater understanding, with its greater diversity of perspectives creates more confidence and decisiveness, more success and a more thoughtful approach to life with greater clarity as to how, and when or if indeed it is appropriate to act or not.

“Patience attracts happiness. It brings near that which was far” Swahili proverb

Patience gives us power

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” Leo Tolstoy

How do we acquire patience?

Patience requires practise. Patience requires practising the pause. Practising the pause can give us the space we need not to be reactive and gives us the chance to respond intentionally instead.

Press stop

Acknowledge where you are

Understand the difference between needs, wants and desires

Select and focus on your goals

Enter fully into the present moment

We all perhaps know the theory and strive to maintain patience in our everyday lives but sometimes our self-control wanes and we become impatient with ourselves or with others whilst dealing with the vicissitudes of life. After the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ it can take time to restore our sense of calm and patience.

Perhaps you have heard the phrases ‘Take a deep breath’ or ‘Count to 10’ ? In these two phrases we have the basis for a simple, practical approach to nurturing patience in our lives.


Stop. Take a very deep breath - feel the peace and calm within that breath. Hold it for a moment and then slowly and fully release it, emptying out your lungs. Imagine your stress and tension being consciously released in that one conscious movement. Feel the patience in your breath

Life continues to its own beat and patience allows us to feel that beat, be aware and understand circumstances as they evolve. When we learn to pay attention and quieten our minds, it gives us the chance to be able to see the bigger picture; the past, present, and future all in one moment. By observing what has been, and how our past has led to what is now, we develop the wisdom as to how our actions will shape what will be in the future.

Patience recognizes that life is a struggle for each and every one of us at different times. If we sailed through life without a care in the world, “We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” Helen Keller

So, don’t resist life’s ups and downs or take offence or feel frustrated at people for being the way they are, because in so doing you are betraying a kind of disregard, even contempt, for human nature in its finitude and frailty.

“Be patient and understanding. Life is too short to be vengeful or malicious”

Phillip Brooks

Practise patience; it enables us to achieve things that would otherwise have been impossible to achieve. Life is too short to wait, but it is not too short to practise patience.

"There is no road too long to the person who advances deliberately and without undue haste; there are no honours too distant to the person who prepares himself for them with patience." Jean de La Bruyère

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