I’ve always considered myself a pretty patient and tolerant person. Growing up in a home where my mom operated a daycare, and as the oldest sibling of three, I learned how to field things and people so that my nerves weren’t taxed. As I’ve matured and become more deliberate with compassion, I’d like to think that my mindfulness practice helps me to be more kind, generous, and present.
But you know what? That doesn’t feel so true at the moment.
I’ve got two kids, lots of demands, and little time. I’m finding that I’m annoyed and impatient more often than I’d like.
Truth is I vacillate between thriving and surviving many times in a day. After recently reflecting on my not-so-proud reactive mommy moments, I’ve come up with three reasons I think I go from peaceful to pissed beyond the obvious tired and/or hungry excuse.
I’m thinking there’s a way things should be.
If I’m going about my day and I’ve got stuff to take care of then I’ve got an agenda I’m following. If I get diverted in any way, it puts me on edge (see also: Thwarted Expectation). But guess what, there is no way things should be. Just because I set out to do something a certain way doesn’t mean it HAS to be that way. Life is fluid and things shift momentarily for everyone.The world isn’t going to fall apart if I don’t manage to finish the laundry before I pick up my son from school, or because my daughter goes down for her nap 30 minutes later because we got distracted at the park. Why? Because there is no way things should be, there is only the way things are. When I wake up and recognize I’m chasing an idea of what should be and stop and surrender to what is, impatience and annoyance disappear.
Everyone should “hurry up.” As a parent to a 7-year-old and 2.5-year-old, I must say this a gazillion times a day. But if I sit back and ask for what purpose, I’m left with WHY?? Are we really in that much of a hurry that I have to speed my children (and husband) along and constantly infuse them with anxiety and urgency? Where else do we really have to be other than here doing what we’re doing? My intention is to be on time so I can trust that for the most part that will always be true.So I must ask, “Do I really need to hurry up?” I’ll find that most likely I don’t. When I drop “hurry up” I immediately release angst, annoyance, and impatience.
There is something I want that I (unknowingly) believe I can’t have. This is another flavor of believing there’s a way things should be. The difference here though, is that instead of being driven by some unconscious should that doesn’t need to be there, this is about genuinely wanting something and feeling unable to make it happen. Why is this important to acknowledge? Because simply recognizing this in the moment imbues my experience with some compassion and clarity. Rather than being driven by unconscious reactivity, I admit to myself the bigger issue at hand and, with a wider lens, address the situation. In this moment I can either do something about what I really want, or I can’t. Either way, I recognize it’s futile to fume with frustration, annoyance, and impatience and thus drop the negative energies.
I’m still trying to embrace the wisdom here and adopt more mindful practices while navigating life, kids, work, and relationships. When I am conscious of these three patterns and make a simple shift, I notice that my impatience and annoyance lessen. What’s left in their place are hope, eagerness, and joy. Which are MUCH more fun to play with! 🙂
What say you? Do you consider yourself impatient? Do others tick you off more than you’d like? How would adopting the mantra: there is no way things should be change things for you?
Give me your feedback and let me know your thoughts on this. If you’ve got additional insight on your experience of impatience and annoyance then give us the goods! Here’s to living Always On Purpose.
Amy Eliza Wong is a life coach, writer, and speaker in the Sacramento, CA area committed to helping people figure out what makes them tick so they can finally live with joy and real purpose. Learn more about working with her.