Impatience: My $900 Story

Whether you work or not, there is something about Friday at about 4:00 p.m. that may beckon you to step back from whatever it is that keeps you busy all week and slip into weekend mode. It’s like clockwork for me. On a recent Friday afternoon spent wrapping up a few practical loose ends, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a “scheduled bank withdrawal” in the amount of $900. What IS this? I rifled through my bills, my files, my notes – and nothing could possibly explain this impending withdrawal. I felt the panic rise – I’ve been getting a lot of phishing emails lately. Could it be related to that? Does a nefarious someone have my personal account information and is about to wipe me out? What is going on here? I’ll call the bank.

I felt my heart rate increase along with the pace of my words as I explained the situation. I was referred to another person in the fraud department who politely put me on hold at least twice and then proceeded to tell me all of the steps I needed to take to protect myself should this indeed be that nefarious stranger trying to steal from me. My head was spinning.

However, as the great bard once said, “All’s well that ends well.” And, thus it was on this Friday afternoon because when I took a breath, calmed myself a bit and started to think more rationally, I was able to determine that the $900 withdrawal was an “anticipated” one based on a prior withdrawal I had made the previous month. Oh, duh.

I hope I haven’t gotten you too lost in the weeds of my Friday tale, because the point is really about my struggle with impatience. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines “impatient” as “having or showing a tendency to be quickly irritated or provoked.” Well, that certainly applies to me. But, digging deeper, I learned that impatience is a very particular mental and physical process that gets triggered under specific circumstances. True again. But, here’s the piece that really resonated – at the very root of impatience is fear – a feeling of frustration and being out of control. That is exactly what I was feeling that Friday afternoon. 

Impatience creates physiological stress in the body and messes with our ability to think clearly. The curious thing is that our impatience is indeed situational. Some folks grow impatient when they feel it’s taking too long to achieve a goal or when obstacles are put in their way. That doesn’t describe me. For me, it’s about a threat of some kind or, to be honest, having to deal with an annoying chore or task – like cleaning the bathroom, again – that makes me impatient.   

I don’t like how impatience makes me think or how it scrambles my mind. I don’t like how it makes me sometimes say things that I wish I could take back or act in ways that I regret. My $900 scare and the distress it caused me could have been nipped in the bud had I responded differently, period. 

I plan to take Jeremy Godwin’s wise words to heart: “Patience is a mindset. You get to choose what you do with your feelings, and so the more you learn how to be patient, the more you’ll be able to find greater peace of mind.”

And, then I am going to pursue these wise actions:

  • Identify when I am experiencing the signs of impatience.
  • Recognize my triggers – fear, annoyance and so on.
  • Choose another emotion to shift to – calmness.
  • Practice mindfulness – stay present, engaged and focused.
  • Slow down – rushing only results in muddled thinking and frenetic action. It also causes me to break things!
  • Take deep breaths when I’m in the midst of impatience.
  • Put the situation in perspective – “stuff” happens from time to time. I will get through this!

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