Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Purpose of Impatience (Read Time: 2 min.)

What is the purpose of impatience?
Why is it that when we are doing the most it feels like we're accomplishing the least?
What does impatience have to do with purpose?

I woke up this morning feeling impatient. Things weren't moving fast enough. I felt like I wasn't getting to where I wanted to go as quickly as I'd like to. I felt myself focusing on all of the obstacles (big and small) and even though there were so many great things happening and even though I'd accomplished so much in such a short time, there was no room to notice miracles or blessings because my focus was on one thing and one thing only: what was missing in my life.

I got out of that impatient period as we all do and, from a perspective of renewed gratitude and excitement, I can say a few things about the purpose of impatience.

Impatience is a persistence test. The extent that you are willing to give in to your impatience is the extent to which the goal or dream you are pursuing is not big enough to keep your attention. If one bout of impatience can lead you to give up, give in or take a shortcut, guess what? You're more in love with getting the goal than experiencing it.

Impatience is a sign of decreasing faith. When you feel impatient, there are two major thoughts running through your head: 1) Nothing's working the way it should and 2) This might never happen. When one or both thoughts pervade your mind, doubt takes the place of faith. At that point, your impatience is not so much about the speed at which you're getting to the goal but the lack of trust you have in your ability to eventually make it to the finish line.

Impatience is an inner cry. Whenever we get impatient, it's because our inner child is throwing a tantrum. Whether that child is four, six, eight, or thirteen, what's really happening is this: our inner child wants what he or she wants as of right now, isn't getting it, and thinks that the only way to get the attention and time he/she deserves is by throwing a fit. It doesn't work for toddlers and it certainly won't work in helping us attract our success faster.

Impatience is a cover up for criticism and judgment. Oftentimes, the impatience we feel comes from a deep sense that we "should" have done things differently. There's also, within impatience, a sense that if we'd been more, better, stronger, richer, thinner, or some other category of "deserving", we'd have what we want right now. In this way, our lack of goal attainment isn't due to Divine Right Timing. No, the ego has stepped in and now says its due to our inability to be good enough to get what we want.

Impatience is a character builder. When you can feel impatient, recognize it for the trap that it is, and move beyond it, you are able to decide your emotions and your destiny. By bringing yourself to a place of gratitude, peace, and love, you have won a major battle. Your impatience is not your enemy; it is your teacher and when you can master the class of impatience, you are ready to take things to the next level. Impatience is a course that you'll take every year and sometimes every day. Mastery doesn't mean completion. Mastery means freedom to move forward.

So, if impatience is part of our spiritual curriculum, how do you overcome it?

You don't. You allow impatience to be what it is. You see impatience for the tool and teacher that it is. You identify which of the above purposes of impatience relate to you in this moment and you use impatience to get you closer to the goal, not farther from it. At the end of the day, your job is not to escape, eradicate, or overcome impatience. Your privilege is to learn from it and become more of who you are...

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