March 20, 2024

Practice Makes Patience

Patience is an important virtue to develop to achieve goals, including relationship goals. Here are some ideas to explore if you are feeling impatient.

“Patience is the ability to remain calm in the face of adversity, suffering…” – Dr. Sarah Schnitker

In an era where life is on demand, and often in our command, patience has become an under-developed character strength that is often neglected. Patience is an open-hearted acceptance of difficult, delayed, and frustrating situations.

Difficult situations require patience to navigate well. Having patience is critical for so many other reasons, as well. Our ability to act with patience impacts our relationships, day-to-day situations, and even our own well-being. Despite being a challenge, research shows that patience can be improved and strengthened with practice and effort! Thus, we can learn how to practice the virtue of patience in order to thrive during stressful times. These exercises—developed using research on patience conducted by psychologists, Sarah Schnitker and Benjamin Houltberg—will help us understand the importance of practicing patience and teach us ways to manage and cope with our emotions during difficult times.

Why Patience?

It’s hard to develop a new skill or habit, especially if you do not have a strong reason to put in the effort. So, let’s start by taking the time to reflect on why patience is important. This will help us to appreciate it more and have a stronger willingness to apply it to our daily lives. In order to effectively practice patience, we need to continuously remind ourselves why we need to be patient. 

Ask yourself:

  • Why should we be patient? To achieve anything of value requires patience, including good relationships.
  • How will being patient benefit me and those around me? It helps me get closer to my loved ones and achieve my goals.

Practicing Patience

Being aware of your feelings is critical for practicing patience. When we are aware of how we are feeling, we can identify the times when we are being patient or impatient. Start by being attentive to your feelings.

Ask yourself:

  • What feelings occur when I cannot do the things that I want to do? I feel disappointed and frustrated, even angry.
  • How do these feelings affect me? I become overwhelmed and react in undesirable ways, sometimes even feeling the effects in my body.

Coping Towards Patience

Once we are aware of our feelings, the next step is to learn how to regulate our emotions to help us better practice patience. 

Our rapidly changing world requires us to adapt and be flexible with our emotion regulation and coping strategies. Reflect on your experience and emotions, and keep an open mind as you identify ways to manage your emotions and responses.

Are there ways you have successfully coped with your emotions in the past? Remind yourself how coping in this way affected you. How do you respond when you are struggling to cope well with your emotions? Think about the way these responses made you feel. 

Ask yourself:

  • What are some things that I did to cope with my feelings in the past? Called a friend or loved one, took some time to myself; lashed out, emotionally retreated
  • How can I use the successful strategies in future situations? Remember how each type of response made you feel. Meditate on your desired response and draw on that memory when you need it.

Connecting Patience to Your Purpose

Lastly, our research here at Thrive Center shows that connecting our experience to a greater purpose is fundamental to practicing patience. Connecting our experience to a greater purpose, something bigger than ourselves, helps remind us that we are not alone in our experiences. Being in touch with our purpose helps us to elevate our emotions, see beyond any immediate challenges, and persevere.

Reflect on these questions:

  • What is my purpose?
  • How does connecting to this purpose now impact the way I view my current situation? It changes my perspective of the situation I am facing. 
  • After applying this last step, how will it help me develop patience moving forward? Realizing I am not alone and that I am part of something bigger than my own life allows me to develop the patience to persevere, knowing everything will ultimately be ok.

Click here  for a downloadable guide for developing patience created by Dr. Sarah Schitker and team.


Thrive Center


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