Remaining composed is difficult at the best of times, but what about when it’s your significant other, close friends, or a family member who’s driving you insane?
Even a work colleague can often frustrate or outright irritate one beyond measure!
We’ve all been in situations where others have lost patience with us for one reason or another, so we can relate to how hurtful that can be.
Since the relationships we have with others are important on countless levels, it’s important to be able to cultivate patience, even in the most trying of circumstances.
Unfortunately, developing patience isn’t on the standard school curriculum. It’s a vital technique that all of us should have, yet it isn’t taught.
It’s something we need to learn over time, and yet the sooner we learn how to be patient, especially in a relationship, the better.
By doing so, we won’t just have patience with our partners and spouses, but also with our children, colleagues, elderly parents, and more.
How do you go about developing patience in your relationships?
1. Determine what’s actually bothering you.
It’s awful to feel that flash of rage and subsequent loss of control when you lose your temper.
Even worse, having a short fuse can take a heavy toll on relationships. Words spoken in anger cannot be taken back, and a momentary loss of control over something that is inconsequential can create lasting damage.
This is especially true in romantic relationships, and when dealing with children.
Your anger may feel justified in that moment, but you have the potential to lose far more than your temper by being short with your loved one.
The first step to remaining calm is to observe yourself to determine what’s irritating you about the other person.
What is it exactly that’s upsetting or annoying you?
Is it their tone of voice? Do you find that particular pitch or turn of phrase to be off-putting?
Are you irritated because you wanted to have something done a certain way, and they failed to meet your expectations, unspoken or otherwise?
Try to figure out whether this annoyance is entirely their fault. This is because the situation could be a projected or perceived fault of your own that’s causing the irritation.
As an example, someone who is upset with themselves for constantly losing things may lash out at their child when they lose an important item.
Alternatively, it could be an aspect of your past that you’re misreading, so you’re projecting previous experiences and resentments onto a new relationship.
If you had unpleasant experiences with a former lover or spouse, and your current partner does or says something that reminds you of what your ex said or did, you may be inadvertently punishing them for your ex’s behavior.
In situations like these, neither your child nor your partner is trying to upset you intentionally. They might just be doing their own thing, not realizing that what they’re saying or doing is hurtful to you somehow.
By losing patience with them, a rift may be created in the relationship that will be difficult to mend. Understanding the source of your annoyance is key to preventing that.
2. Become aware of yourself and the other person.
Not letting negative stimulation influence your mood is a lot easier said than done, of course. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be quite so many self-help books on the shelves.
There is no “quick fix” here, but rather a constant level of self-awareness, both about your own emotional trigger points, and how you react to other people.
This self-awareness is key, and requires some honest – and possibly uncomfortable – introspective work.
Are there aspects of yourself that you dislike, that you’re seeing in those around you?
When someone has a deep sense of self-loathing and neglects to love or honor themselves, this often comes simmering to the fore regardless of how well their companions are behaving.
Or are you, as mentioned earlier, reacting to a current relationship based on the unhealthy emotional patterns of the past? If your current partner said or did something that reminds you of a past relationship, there is an immediate “weight” of resentment toward that individual.
When this happens, try to rein in your immediate knee-jerk response and talk to them about it. Find out why they behaved the way they did, so you can get an understanding from their perspective.
Then try to explain why that action upsets or irritates you so that they may see things from your perspective.
Understanding yourself and the “other” is the best way of staying calm and therefore patient.
If you understand the other person for where they are at and what they are feeling, it is much easier to be graceful in a stressful situation. And that goes both ways.
The same can be said of our flaws. We all have flaws, even if what one person views as a flaw, the other does not.
But by accepting that both you and the other person are flawed creatures, you can develop patience in those situations where their flaws or your flaws rear their ugly heads.
You can see their flaws differently and have empathy toward them, which will help you remain calm when you might currently get worked up.
Likewise, you can see your flaws and understand how they influence your perception of and response to a situation.
3. Learn to respond, rather than reacting.
We often see the words “respond” and “react” used interchangeably, but they’re two different sides of the same coin.
A reaction is instant and often thoughtless, such as swiping at a mosquito that’s biting us.
Responding requires thought and internal negotiation, so takes a bit longer, but it has a more beneficial and long-lasting effect.
There are a few different techniques that you can employ to cultivate the ability to respond rather than react in any given situation.
The first is breathwork. Breathing practices, both in the heat of the moment and as a meditation, are central to remaining grounded and thinking clearly.
Whether you’re contending with ignorant decision-making or simply outright bad behavior, take a few deep breaths.
Rather than exploding, give yourself a few moments before choosing how to respond. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and think before you speak.
Another method to retain your composure is simply to remove yourself from the situation. “What does not kill me must have missed me” is a far wiser adage than its “makes me stronger” counterpart.
You don’t have to win every battle, nor prove yourself to anyone, unless you choose to do so. Just remove yourself from the situation and go for a walk, preferably somewhere outside, full of natural beauty.
You will feel calmer, and taking this type of action sets a strong precedent in that particular relationship. You don’t have to be rude or tolerate poisonous behavior. Merely leave. Don’t give the antagonist the attention they want.
If you cannot escape from the negative stimulus, a good practice is to pour your energy into a craft that you enjoy.
Immerse yourself in a fine motor skill that demands all your attention. This will provide a sort of shield against whatever noise you are being forced to maintain peace with.
See it as an excellent opportunity to develop will and focus as well as remaining calm in another’s storm.
Also, remember that being playful and nurturing a sense of humor is invaluable. Take a good look at why this person is behaving the way they are, and try to see them as a child.
This works particularly well if you’re actually dealing with a stubborn child, or an adolescent who’s trying to get a rise out of you.
When you draw back your own anger response and view the situation with gentle humor, the anger tends to dissipate. Their behavior won’t even affect you anymore, and your blood pressure remains at a far more comfortable level.
4. Tailor your response to the type of relationship.
All relationships are obviously individual and, therefore, each situation requires a different response (or lack thereof) depending on that unique circumstance.
Family are often the toughest to stay calm with. A lifetime of seeing the same mistakes or quirks can be very wearing. Your family members also know all the buttons to push to get your temper flaring. What’s more, we feel most able to express our full frustrations with family members where we might hide or dull our response with others.
The first thing to consider is that if a sibling, for example, is trying to get a rise out of you, why are they behaving this way?
Are they upset? Bored? Unhappy with their life? If you feel that this behavior is malicious then it’s best to remain ambivalent.
Change the subject or offer them a small act of love, such as making tea or a bite to eat. If they still keep going, just walk away. This preserves your equilibrium as well as resetting boundaries.
This technique also works for work colleagues, as we tend to develop sibling-like rapport with those we interact with on a daily basis. They may not be friends per se, but they’re people whom we have to see day in and day out, so antagonistic behavior may arise.
Romantic endeavors can be easier in this regard because you may not have decades of past history, but they are also more complex in many ways. As mentioned before, it’s very easy to misread a situation and place old behaviors on new relationships.
In each situation and for each relationship, tailor your response accordingly, whether that’s walking away, talking things out, distracting yourself, or taking a moment to breathe.
5. Learn how to cultivate more patience in general.
We are all vessels of emotion, and what we keep in our houses defines us. This is why forgiveness is so important, albeit in a rather selfish-yet-healthy way.
When you hold onto anger and past slights, it creates extra internal weight and stress.
Consider a regular yoga or tai chi practice, which will allow you to work through unwanted emotions physically.
Beyond that, focus on your breath. We breathe shallowly when stressed, so try to breathe in to the count of 10, hold for a count of 10, and exhale to the count of 10 (or 5 if 10 seconds is too long). Do this 30 times in a row and you’ll find yourself a lot calmer and more grounded.
When you can remember to do so, breathe fully and deeply, and try to remain as a witness to creation unfolding rather than someone who must get involved in a situation.
The child may scream, or your lover may have put that goddamned dish in the wrong place for the 109th time, but it’s entirely your choice how you respond to that.
Remember that kindness and understanding will often be met with a return of the same. Likewise abusive, violent behavior creates its twin. If one is physically pushed or insulted, the usual reaction is to respond in kind.
If, after some introspection, you come to the realization that what’s getting under your skin is not anything you’re doing, and the other person shows no willingness to change, then it’s important to consider whether or not this relationship is right for you.
Perhaps your personalities and the way you each like to do things simply clash, and there is no getting around that fact. Neither of you are to blame, but perhaps you are better off not being in each other’s lives.
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- How To Fight Fair In A Relationship: 10 Rules For Couples To Follow
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