A Developmental Moment #5: Patience as a Concept and Practice

Expanding our Patience While Limiting our Reactivity By Understanding and Practicing Our Emotional Intelligence

The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking more about patience, and just how important being patient is in all aspects of life. For sure, patience was, and is, something that I continue to be present to, as patience was, and still is in some ways, something that is a developmental opportunity for me.

How do you feel about the concept and practice of patience? Do you think it affects how we interpret the world, and how we, for instance, function at home and work?

I think it does affect all aspects of our lives, whether we are aware or not.

In this post, we’ll explore a couple of ways to expand the concept of patience by unpacking the stimulus response system, and by exploring ways we can increase our patience, or, conversely, decrease our reactivity. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The Stimulus Response System

In some ways we are programmed to respond to our environments. As we navigate our environments, our brain takes in data and information, let’s call them inputs, processes them, and then runs through a selection of outputs, or responses. Pretty simple, yes?

Yep, pretty straightforward. The issue? Good question. Well, if we never question our responses, and simply react, we can become reactive, which means that an event occurs and we react without pause. Super helpful in an emergency situation.

In a non-emergency situation, however, it is not always as helpful. There are ways, however, that we can slow down the stimulus response system, which creates a space for more choice.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence has been written about for a long time. Very simply, having emotional intelligence means that you understand that there is a space between a stimulus and response, and you can access this space. Accessing the space between a stimulus and response, also means that you are able to make more choices and handle emotions that arise more readily. Important.

Learning about and practicing emotional intelligence is important for all aspects of life, and is particularly effective in our relationships. When we can slow down and increase our choices, we, at the same time, increase the outcomes that are possible in each situation.

Home and Work

As we learn more about our emotional selves we create the opportunity to reduce reactivity, and understand our own humanity. For instance, anger was something that was present for me a lot of my adult life. There are many reasons this is so, knowing today, I was only ever upset with myself for not living the fullest life possible. Knowing this is helpful.

Additionally, understanding that anger can arise, and not mean that I am an angry person is also helpful. We must be careful with the concepts we internalize. If we internalize concepts, such as anger, as part of who we are as a human being, we then become an angry person. It’s just how it works. If, however, we understand that anger is an emotion that, like our thoughts, will arise, yet is not indicative of who we are as a human being, we are immediately freed from the concept. Super helpful and liberating.

Further, it is important to understand that our emotions not only affect us, they affect everyone around us, even if we are unaware. It’s not possible, for example, to carry anger, and to not give it out. We will. And, when we do, then all we see is anger, because, in fact, that’s what we are creating.

However, when we learn about and practice strategies that can increase our emotional intelligence, and at the same time, slow down our reactivity, we have new choices. New ways of being, and of releasing old concepts that we once believed in.

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

Closing Thoughts

Emotional intelligence has a direct impact on our patience. When we slow down our impulse to react to external stimuli, such as other people and events, and internal stimuli, such as thoughts and emotions, we create a space to choose being patient over being reactive. Important.

And, in the space we create to be more patient, we get to choose from a plethora of ways to respond (not react) to a person or event. Powerful.

There is one practice that has been instrumental in my practice of my own emotional intelligence, and that is meditation. I’ve written about meditation lots of times, and, in fact, it has been scientifically documented that meditation decreases reactivity.

As our reactivity decreases, we see and experience the world more slowly, our patience increases, and we are able to understand our thoughts and emotions on a deeper level. Which also means that we will understand everyone in our lives that much better as well.

And, when we understand ourselves and those we love and care about better, our relationships begin to blossom. Our relationship with ourselves, yes, and with everyone else. A beautiful cycle.

#conceptandpractice, #developmental-moment, #emotionalintelligence, #home-and-work, #leadershipdevelopment, #meditation, #patience, #reactivity, #selfawareness, #selfdevelopment, #slowing-down, #stimulusresponse, #understandingyourself

Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 3: Understanding Our Emotions and Strengthening Our Relationships by Slowing Down

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

What do our emotions have to do with our relationships? Do they really matter that much? And, how much of our emotional selves do we share with those that are closest to us? Not sure, well, this is one area that I’ve been exploring a lot the past two years, so, let’s take a look.

Here is how it worked for me prior to 2 years ago. Something would happen, and I would react to my emotion. Didn’t really matter what the situation was, the event happened, and I would react. Sometimes the reactive emotion would be sadness, sometimes frustration, and sometimes anger.

Not helpful. Why?

Because when we react to our emotions without the time to process that emotion, we are in effect causing a possible chain reaction, especially if your partner is like you. Think about it. How many times have you gotten angry about something, and then you lashed out, unintentionally, and then your partner, or friend, lashed out right back at you? Happens all the time.

Action, reaction; or, reaction, action; or reaction, reaction. A vicious circle, and cycle.

What can we do?

One thing we can do, which I’ve written about in other posts, is slow down our reaction time. How? One way is by adding reflection, and meditation time, into our daily lives. Having the space and time to consider all of our options when confronted with any situation is needed, and necessary.

Though most people don’t prioritize reflection and meditation, there are many benefits, which suggest that doing so is beneficial for our daily lives, and for our long-term health.

What happens when we add time for reflection and meditation into our lives?

When we choose to intentionally slow down, and create more time and space for ourselves to be quiet and to think more thoughtfully about our lives, we actually become less reactive to ourselves. And, when we are less reactive to our own emotions, and thoughts, we are less reactive to other people and their emotions. We create more time, space, reflective possibilities, and actually choice, instead of reaction.

What other benefits are there to making time to reflect and practice mediation?

There are many benefits of making the time to reflect on our lives, and to practice meditation.

Here are a few

  • We are less reactive to ourselves, and all of those around us.
  • We have more time to fully consider all of our options
  • We better understand our own thoughts and emotions
  • We create the space to become more resilient

When we are less reactive, have more time, understand ourselves better, and become more resilient, we are able to hold more and handle more. We are also able to do more, to create more possibilities for ourselves and those around us.

Does this mean that I will never again react?

No. Reaction is needed and necessary when there is danger, or when something urgent is occurring, and a choice is needed right away. However, what I’ve come to realize is that time for reflection can be added into most situations that arise.

As you practice meditation and make time for reflection, you are able to make choices with more clarity. You, in fact, have more clarity. Why? Because you know yourself better, both your mind and your body. You are in touch with yourself on a deeper level, which, in and of itself, creates more time.

What does all of this have to do with my relationships?

When you understand yourself on a deeper level, you also understand those around you better. Why? Because we are all human. We all have the same set of emotions, and thinking mechanism, our mind.

Knowing yourself well, is one of the most important parts of having a healthy relationship. Which does not mean, however, that all of your relationships will be easy. In fact, it may mean that some of your relationships will be harder. Why?

Because as you understand yourself better, you may find that you are less compatible with someone you’ve always been compatible with. It can be hard. However, overall, I think you will realize that understanding yourself better creates the opportunity to have the strongest relationships possible.

And, that is the case, because you have created a stronger relationship with yourself first.

#emotional-development, #emotional-intelligence, #meditation, #reactivity, #reflection, #reflection-and-meditation, #relationships