Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

How Patience Can Empower Your Life

 
Judith Orloff - Friday, August 10, 2012

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller, “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

As a psychiatrist, patience is an invaluable skill that I teach all my psychotherapy clients. In my book Emotional Freedom I emphasize the importance of patience as a coping skill and how to achieve it. Frustration is not the key to any door. Patience is a lifelong spiritual practice as well as a way to find emotional freedom.

We need a new bumper sticker: FRUSTRATION HAPPENS. Every morning, noon, and night there are plenty of good reasons to be impatient. Another long line. Telemarketers. A goal isn’t materializing “fast enough.” People don’t do what they’re supposed to. Rejection. Disappointment. How to deal with it all? You can drive yourself crazy, behave irritably, feel victimized, or try to force an outcome--all self-defeating reactions that alienate others and bring out the worst in them. Or, you can learn to transform frustration with patience.

Patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power. It’s an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act. I want to give patience a twenty-first-century makeover so you’ll appreciate its worth. Patience has gotten a bad rap for the wrong reasons. To many people, when you say, “Have patience,” it feels unreasonable and inhibiting, an unfair stalling of aspirations, some Victorian hang-up or hangover. Is this what you’re thinking? Well, reconsider. I’m presenting patience as a form of compassion, a re-attuning to intuition, a way to emotionally redeem your center in a world filled with frustration.

To frustrate means to obstruct or make ineffectual. Frustration is a feeling of agitation and intolerance triggered when your needs aren’t met; it’s tied to an inability to delay gratification. At our own risk, we’ve become too used to immediate results. Emails zip across the globe in seconds. Parents text messages to their kids to come in for dinner instead of yelling from a front porch. You can get the temperature in Kuala Lumpur or the Malibu Beach surf report with a click of a mouse. Despite the digital age’s marvels, it has propagated an emotional zeitgeist with a low tolerance for frustration--not just when you accidentally delete a computer file, but in terms of how you approach relationships and yourself. Without patience, you turn into your own worst taskmaster. You treat spouses and friends as disposable instead of devoting the necessary time to nurture love. But with patience, you’re able to step back and regroup instead of aggressively reacting or hastily giving up on someone who’s frustrating you. You’re able to invest meaningful time in a relationship without giving up or giving in. In fact, patience gives you the liberating breath you’ve always longed to take.

Frustration prevents emotional freedom. Expressing frustrations in an effort to resolve them is healthy, but it must be done from a non-irritable, non-hostile place. If not, you’ll put others on the defensive. Wallowing in frustration leads to endless dissatisfaction, placing us at odds with life. This emotion makes us tense, kills our sense of humor. It also leads to procrastination; we put things off to avoid the annoyances involved. Conquering frustration will revive your emotional life by making it your choice how you handle daily hassles and stresses.

I’m defining patience as an active state, a choice to hold tight until intuition says, “make your move.” It means waiting your turn, knowing your turn will come. Once you’ve gone all out toward a goal, it entails trusting the flow, knowing when to let the soup boil. With patience, you’re able to delay gratification, but doing so will make sense and feel right. Why? Intuition intelligently informs patience. It’ll convey when to have it and if something is worth working on or waiting for. As a psychiatrist, I’m besotted with patience because it’s intimately intuitive, all about perfect timing, the key to making breakthroughs with patients. I can have the sharpest intuitions or psychological insights, but if I don’t share them at the right moment, they can do damage or else go in one ear and out the other. With regard to this, I strive for enormous patience; anything less would impede healing.

I’m also struck by the fact that every world religion sees patience as a way to know God, an incentive for me to practice it, and perhaps you too. Whereas frustration focuses on externals, patience is a drawing inward towards a greater wisdom. Lastly, patience doesn’t make you a doormat or unable to set boundaries with people. Rather, it lets you intuit the situation to get a larger, more loving view to determine right action. Patience, a gift when given or received, moves within reach when you can read someone’s deeper motives.

To practice patience, try this exercise. I do it all time to turn frustration around in long lines. I advise my patients to do this too.

Emotional Action Step. Practice Patience In A Long Line

To turn the tables on frustration, find a long, slow-moving line to wait in. Perhaps in the grocery store, bank, post office. Or if you’re renewing your driver’s license, dare to take on the mother of all lines in the DMV. But here’s the switch: Instead of getting irritated or pushy, which taxes your system with a rush of stress hormones, take a breath. Tell yourself, “I’m going to wait peacefully and enjoy the pause.” Meanwhile, try to empathize with the overwrought cashier or government employee. Smile and say a few nice words to the other beleaguered people in line. Use the time to daydream; take a vacation from work or other obligations. Notice the stress release you feel, how your body relaxes. Lines are an excellent testing ground for patience. To strengthen this asset, I highly recommend standing in as many as possible.

Practicing patience will help you dissipate stress and give you a choice about how you respond to disappointment and frustration. When you can stay calm, centered and not act rashly out of frustration, all areas of your life will improve.

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Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

Comments
Stella commented on 10-Aug-2012 03:02 PM
This comes at a perfect time! Was just at Eataly in NYC and could feel a woman just pushing me forward with her energy, she clearly thought i wasn't moving fast enough, so instead of feeding off of her frenzy and mimicking her pace, i just moved to her
side and let her "do her thing". Such freedom! To be myself, and let others do the same. You are SUCH an inspiration and a blessing. THANKS!
pinyourincome commented on 11-Aug-2012 06:47 AM
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PsychedinSF commented on 14-Aug-2012 11:49 AM
We here at PsychedinSF love this idea of acknowledging our stress triggers, understanding what it does to us, taking a deep breath and allowing it to pass. The less patience, empathy and compassion we allow ourselves to feel in regards to others determines
our own isolation and that only perpetuates those feelings of negativity. Great reminder why a small concept like patience can have such an impact!-PsychedinSF
Anonymous commented on 14-Aug-2012 11:59 AM
Spent my entire holidays in Portugal stuck in hospital with bad break in leg . Surgeon advised me to be patient and relax. Leg in cast for six weeks. Am stuck here now on sofa back home in Ireland but am lucky to have sons to look after me and do the chores.
My husband Paul cooks dinner after work. I really enjoyed blog by dr orloff on patiience having come across the name in an article in the Sunday times style magazine can you feel the force aug12 . Many thanks
laura52 commented on 14-Aug-2012 04:40 PM
I was given Emotional Freedom by a friend of mine and it helped me so much. I lent this book to a friend who has been unable to find it so that I could re-read it; so this post was a great reminder of how freeing your book was to read in my life. I will
definitely remember this when I am in line at Costco. Namaste
Aviva commented on 14-Aug-2012 04:56 PM
Once more...Thank You..it's paying off " Emotional Freedom " Thanks Judith..always
Anna Pollard commented on 14-Aug-2012 09:49 PM
Hi Dr Judith, I just want to say thanks for this blog post. I find it both comforting and reassuring and appreciate your sharing. All the best, Anna.
Melanie Webb commented on 14-Aug-2012 10:44 PM
So timely! Thank you Judith!
Helen commented on 15-Aug-2012 06:38 AM
Thank you so much for sharing what is an empowering blueprint for navigating this very challenging time. I was just reading about how children that don't get their needs met may become passive and that passivity can create a paradigm of impatience - when
something does look like it's coming their way - they expect it all at once. Seeing patience in a new way gives me a way to change my perspective and allow my life to unfold like a flower.
Judith Peach commented on 16-Aug-2012 12:16 AM
A couple of years ago, I decided that I needed to "get a grip" on my stress level, particularly living in Los Angeles. I had become a hard core maniac behind the wheel -- and for what purpose? I decided one day that I only "had to be nice" on the freeway
on-ramp. So I did. Over time, the "nice on-ramp" practice began to seep into other driving behaviors, in a positive way, it didn't take long. As others have remarked -- FREEDOM,
pc repair commented on 16-Aug-2012 01:56 PM
I think the motto of this blog is really true.This blog is such an interesting one.yes, it is really appreciable to hold the temper while doing a work.
Barbara Christl commented on 19-Aug-2012 11:27 PM
I thought the link to procrastination was interesting. I've noticed cronic pain has influenced my patience and that I've started to procrastinate - this has not been a feature of my personality in the past.
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Casey commented on 24-Aug-2012 10:10 PM
Great article. I am facing a few of these issues as well. .
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Natural Facelift commented on 01-Sep-2012 05:49 PM
Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!
Diane Guichard commented on 02-Sep-2012 08:04 PM
This blog is the perfect subject for all of us sitting in the dark, in the heat,with minimal electricity from a generator as we wait for the "power" to be turned back on (New Orleans - Hurricane Isaac). Six days of no electricity, ice or gasoline will
test anyone's patience. I wish I had read it before the lights went out! Thank you for perfect timing!
Jack from Orange County Limousine commented on 02-Sep-2012 11:28 PM
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Anonymous commented on 05-Dec-2013 03:47 PM
wow synchronicity, intuition found its way to me when i asked how to respond to a relationship I want to go forward in but was not patient enough to wait for him..even tho i knew in my heart (intuition) that i should. last night after reading several of your articles I asked for information a to how to handle it.. reconfirming for myself..thank you. i plan to buy a couple of your books.
keith cooper commented on 27-Aug-2014 08:41 AM
8-27-14
Dear Dr.Orloff,
You`re absolutely right!Patience helps!
Tell me more.
Signed,
Keith P.Cooper

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