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Do You Have Patience?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
October 18, 2016

Has having patience been a challenge for you? Discover an underlying cause of impatience.

Hiker relaxing on a rock as they view a far away mountain. Some people seem to be naturally patient. I'm not one of those people. I think I was born impatient.

I have spent a lot of time cultivating having patience and trying to understand what triggers me when I get impatient.

Like this morning. I was getting ready for my morning walk out in nature – which I love – and I was putting the leashes on my dogs. They also love their morning walk, sniffing everything while I do my Inner Bonding process. After getting the leash on Dobby, I called Pippin over to get his leash on. Instead of coming, he did what he often does – he rolled over. I felt that familiar flash of impatience over his not listening to me, and I immediately recognized that my irritation was a cover up for my feeling of helplessness over Pippin. He is our rescue dog and somehow he learned, in his early very unhappy life, to roll over and give a pleading look rather than listen. As soon as I found my compassion for him, my impatience and irritation vanished. Poor little guy. I wonder what happened to him that led to him learning to do that?

I find that when I can name and fully accept my helplessness over a person or animal or situation, then I have patience. But fully accepting our feelings of helplessness about things we have no control over is often a challenge, because helplessness is a very hard feeling to feel. It's much easier to get impatient and irritated and convince ourselves that this will give us control over something we actually cannot control.

How do you end up feeling when you are impatient and irritated?

I feel awful inside. My inner child feels unsafe when I don't show up as a loving adult and accept the reality of a situation. Since I've learned this lesson well, I rarely allow myself to get impatient with people or animals. Occasionally I will indulge my irritation with my computer, but even that no longer feels good. I feel so much better when I calmly accept the reality of a situation – and have patience.

Why is this so hard? For me, helplessness brings up a whole lot of pain from my childhood. The pain of being unseen and unheard, and of being yelled at or criticized almost daily. The pain of the loneliness of being an only child and the pain of never feeling my parents' compassion for my feelings. The pain of no one caring about my feelings and of never knowing what it was that I was doing that was so wrong in my mother's eyes. The pain of my father trying to sexually abuse me and of having to stay away from him. The pain of my grandmother's meanness and darkness. The pain of feeling like an alien in my family. The pain of having to hide my good grades so the boys would like me. The pain of being poor.

And - worst of all - the pain of having felt helpless over all of this.

Now, when I feel helpless, tears come to my eyes. The current helplessness triggers the past helplessness and I cry the tears I couldn't cry then. I accept the helplessness I couldn't accept then, because it was way too big a feeling for my little body to manage.

Now I give my inner child the compassion she never got as a child. Now I bring the love and gentleness of Spirit to her so that we can manage the feeling of helplessness. This is what supports me in having patience.

I have patience when I accept my helplessness, and I like who I am when I'm patient.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage and receive compassionate help and support for your healing journey.

Photo by Bulgani Pablo


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