Building Healthy Relationships: Focus on Patience

In our western culture we are not taught to be patient; everything is expected instantly – communication, information, purchases, service, etc. It is probably not a surprise that if we are impatient and expect instant results with everything we do every day, the idea of being patient with people (especially those closest to us) will be a real challenge.

Yet patience is one of the choices of a loving person; only an intentional choice to love people will allow us to develop patience in today’s world.  Love is an attitude that says, “I choose to focus on being kind and patient with others.”  One of the wonderful things about living a love-filled life is that we can find joy in our decisions and actions. When we understand love is an action, we can consciously choose to use tools of knowledge to improve the quality of love we give. When you are choosing to enrich the lives of others through loving relationships, you will find the most satisfying form of fulfillment. Being patient demonstrates love.

In order to love effectively in relationships, we need to cultivate successful habits. Patience is one of the seven habits of authentic love discussed in, Love as a Way of Life by Gary Chapman. The following are some ideas expressed by Gary Chapman on how to enrich the love in your life by choosing to become more patient:

Life is a slow process of becoming the type of person we choose to be.  Every one of us is living in this process every moment, and we will until the day we die. When we are patient in our relationships, we remind ourselves that each of us is currently working to become a better person. In other words, patience allows someone to be imperfect. If we are conscious of this reality, we will be more patient toward our loved ones when we do not agree with their choices. When we respect the growing process, we are more likely to have a positive influence on the outcome. Patience creates an atmosphere that makes a positive influence possible.

Patience is an attitude to be developed and will take on different forms in different relationships. The patience to forgive a service company for not showing up on time will be different than when your spouse leaves an important task unfinished.  But being patient in one area of your life will help you to be patient in all areas of your life. If we can develop an attitude of patience, we will become more capable to love everyone we meet and demonstrate patience in all situations. Realize a hurried attitude affects the quality of your relationships; loving relationships do not have shortcuts. Loving attitudes are also not self-centered; since patience allows someone else to be imperfect, patience will focus on the needs of the others person, allowing us to put the relationship before selfish desires.

Focus on keeping expectations realistic. People are not machines from whom we can expect perfect performance. Each of us has different emotions, ideas, desires, and perceptions; each of us has the ability to make choices with which we may not agree; not everyone operates according to our priorities. We must accept the human element as a reality and incorporate that into our expectations. Otherwise, we will continue to express our impatience, eroding any chance for quality human relations.

Realize the power of both impatience and patience. When we become impatient we lose our temper and speak condemning words; we become an enemy, not a friend. The person who we are punishing with our impatience will naturally respond with fighting words. On the other hand, when we exhibit patience and chose loving words, we exert a positive influence on the relationship.

Show you care by listening rather than speaking condemning words of impatience; when you invest the time to listen with the desire to gain an understanding of what is going on inside the other person, it is an expression of love. Strive to acknowledge the person’s feelings so they know they are being heard.

Carefully choose the words you speak; harsh and condemning words always create tension. Every time we are frustrated we have a choice; we can lash out with hurtful words or we can ask questions, listen, and seek to understand. When we utilize patience in our dialogs to gain an understanding, we are more apt to choose loving, healing words.

As we learn to become patient with others we also need to be patient with ourselves. Most of us live under many forms of stress; whatever the form of stress, we are more likely to be impatient when we feel life pressing in on us. Many of us attempt to be perfectionists, always wanting to do things right; when we fail we become irritated and speak condemning words to ourselves; unfortunately, the negative self- talk will only drive our discouragement. When we are patient with ourselves, we choose kind, forgiving, and compassionate words in our self-talk. When we are patient with ourselves, we will likely be more patient with others.

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