Being patient is not the privilege of saints
Facing the wait with a good attitude is not a frequent characteristic of mortals, but it is not a virtue of the soul, either.
Science defends its importance as a psychological protection factor in stressful situations, but developing this quality is difficult, even more so in the uncertainty of confinement. The good thing is that there are ways of cultivating the art of patience, and of maintaining some control while staying home.
So, how do we deal with things that out of our control?
Patience, as if it were a garden of the mind, is cultivated with effort, dedication and certain techniques that should be taken into account.
Some people may be better endowed to produce an enviable harvest, but we can all try and, with perseverance, to obtain results by taking advantage of the knowledge of psychology.
The ways of achieving it are so varied that the panoply of strategies becomes surprising. For example, neuroscientific research suggests that drawing on the imagination is an effective way to encourage patience without resorting exclusively to willpower.
To reach this conclusion, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, examined functional magnetic resonance imaging obtained while undergoing tests in which, for example, people had to decide whether they wanted to receive $100 in 24 hours or $120 30 days later.
While willpower can allow people to override their impulses, imagining the consequences of their choices can change these impulses. That is, the fact of anticipating the future in the mind, based on sequences that lead to the desired result, helps to be more patient.
Among other more common and physiological solutions, the Mayo Clinic – which refers to studies that indicate that patient people have a more stable mood, are more empathetic and are more grateful – proposes three ways to cultivate patience: stress reduction based on mindfulness, meditation and meditative movement.
Among the advantages of the first option, they highlight that it can reinforce areas that the brain uses in the regulation of emotions and the processing of learning. The objective is to get dikes to emotions such as anger in situations that we cannot control, such as jams, through breathing exercises and stretching, among others.
According to the institution, meditation also helps to be patient in the face of the small inconveniences of the day to day through emotional stability. As for meditative movement, the key is that it helps reduce stress and negative thoughts.
The positive psychology approach indicates that we can all become more patient by learning to identify emotions and applying conscious breathing in situations that put us under stress, such as traffic jams, bureaucratic procedures or dead times in airports.
The first thing is to recognize the environment – if we are in a traffic jam, we all have to wait – and to be consistent with our actions: going nuts, far from solving anything, complicates everything.
Third, we must accept that there are times when things get out of our control. Only once we understand that there are times when we cannot intervene in the result can we act patiently.
Patience in confinement
In normal situations, you can work helping to rethink life habits and trying to recognize behaviors where patience must be encouraged, but with more than a month of confinement on their backs, it may not be possible to generate positive, unrealistic expectations.
The big problem is that people are experiencing a lot of uncertainty due to the magnitude of the pandemic, the duration of confinement, the impact on the labor fabric and uncertainty is the opposite pole of patience.
People with little patience will find it impossible at this time even if they want to, just as there will be people who want to quit smoking or lose weight and right now it will be very complicated for them.
So what are people to do? People could, for example, do a basic planning of meals and hours of rest for the week.
This does not mean running away from strenuous days full of home plans. Why? Because of the consequences of the quarantine.
Combine confinement, telecommuting and babysitting these days is a challenge of epic magnitude. And much more in families with children in adolescence, a period of age where mood swings, impulsiveness and anger are common.
Adolescents are one of the sectors of the population that is experiencing the worst. For them, the reference group is their friends. For this reason, parents must understand the importance of establishing moments so that they can continue to be in contact with the mobile or computer.
All this without losing sight of the schedules, because one of the frequent problems in psychology consultations with adolescents emanates from the lack of control of sleep routines.
But, in order for wayward young people to learn to develop patience, they need the help of their parents. Families have to accompany them, sit quietly with them and ask them ‘what’s wrong?’, ‘Why are you like this?’
Another problem is when the couples themselves suffer a tension that becomes unbearable. Phrases like “can you make less noise when chewing?”, “When you put the dishwasher you leave millions of things out because you are unable to rationally organize the space”, “do you mind stopping questioning everything I say and do?” They are undermining coexistence and end up becoming declarations of war that turn homes into battlefields without a time of truce.
The lack of mobility, cognitive stimulation and socialization increase our reluctance, apathy and discomfort.
It is necessary to lower one’s revolutions to avoid explosions, work a good communication, with empathy and understanding. That helps to endure patience and love.
For those who tend to adopt defensive positions this will be more difficult. It may be time to start professional counseling to train communication, through behavioral psychology techniques such as “time out,” which teach you to get out of the conflict zone with productive communication.
The other tool to reduce high stress is to establish individual gap times and couple times — daily, to the extent possible. But for shared moments that are enriching, you have to talk, it is not enough to activate the play of a series or a movie.
Cooking a recipe together can be a good plan, just like board games, karaokes, or a relaxing massage. Like everything that is cultivated, if done well, it will end up paying off.
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Luis R. Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the founder & editor of The Real Agenda News. His career spans over 23 years in every form of news media. He writes about environmentalism, education, technology, science, health, immigration and other current affairs. Luis has worked as on-air talent, news reporter, television producer, and news writer.