When I was born, my blood was spiked with a tad bit of Irish. I celebrate Irish lineage from both my dad’s Dunne side and my mom’s Griffin side. As a result, I have been known to have a short fuse. More specifically, the patience gene was apparently left out of my DNA. Now, I do not want to give the impression that I have a hard time waiting my turn in line or sitting in traffic. Those scenarios tend not to bother me, because I can always see that my turn will come and I can gauge that it will likely occur at a minimum in the next hour. Sigh.
My patience deficiency is most glaring when I am waiting for long-term results to unfold or for questions to be answered that may take several weeks or months. In short, when I feel like I have little control and I am swimming in ambiguity. I feel my blood pressure rise, I see my mood gradually start to wrinkle, and I find myself talking faster -unconsciously trying to move time along in my favor. What’s worse is that more often than not, once I start getting wound up, the end result is that I usually max out my irritability in a silly fight that is all my doing and/or end up crying in frustration.
So it may be slightly ironic that I chose to be an attorney – a divorce lawyer no less. The court system is one of the slowest systems on this planet. The courts are overburdened with thousands of cases every year and there are only so many dollars budgeted and judges hired to accommodate the massive case loads. Time spent in litigation inches forward day by day. Ranked high on the list of frustrations my clients experience during divorce is how long it takes.
Part of my role as the divorce lawyer is being a professional patience manager. As such, I have learned over time some useful tools to help curb impatience. As someone who directly suffers from impatience, it took a lot of practice, but I have seen these small actions have a big impact.
- Set time aside to critically think about the things you do have control over and determine how you will manage and be present to issues, people, and tasks that need your attention now.
- Make a plan for when you will be able to have a plan.
- Start a distraction project to fill time and ease anxiety (I tend to start puzzles or sewing projects, but maybe it is time to purge the pantry or clean the refrigerator). I find that filling up my time with productive tasks is useful.
- Identify and take the next small step. This has been a lifesaver for me over the years. You can usually always find a next small step to take when you are practicing patience. For example, uncertain about what your finances might look like in the future? Maybe now is the time to research whether you can find a more competitive car insurance rate. Uncertain about where you will be living in the next six months? Start clearing out closets so that when the move finally does come, you have already started making the process easier.
Patience is claimed to be a virtue for good reason – it can be hard to master and takes practice. But in pursuing patience, you may find that you are doing more than just holding your temper or tongue, but are creating calm to help you ease through the unknown with a measure of grace.