When Your Impatience Is a Good Thing


This week on the podcast I’m talking about patience. Because when I surveyed listeners about the number one thing they struggle with when it comes to feeling like a better person, they named patience. Or rather, impatience. Because when you’re feeling frustrated and impatient is often you do the stuff that you’re least proud of. 

Mostly this week I’ve talked about how to mitigate impatience so that you can be a little less affected by it. 

Today’s big idea is that sometimes impatience is a good thing and healthy. It’s showing you that you’re not willing to tolerate something that you previously were. 

Listen To The Podcast Here

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

“There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.” 


And that’s when the good kind of impatience rises up.

In other words, impatience is a good thing and can be the spark that lights a flame on your doing something different–no matter how scary or big or hairy it may feel. But you have the fuel to start working toward this change because your impatience is telling you that this s-h-i-t can no longer stand. 

Be Impatient With Systematic Injustice

While in general I advocate for being a more patient person–especially at this juncture in human history when we expect to get what we want in an instant, whether that’s a delivery from Amazon or the answer to who sang that obscure song that just popped into your head–there are definitely circumstances or behaviors that do not deserve our patience. For example. Any form of abuse. Systemic racism. Systemic sexism. Manipulation. Being taken advantage of. Even impatience with yourself can be constructive, if you keep doing something that you KNOW is no longer working for you. 

In these instances, when you’re confronting something that is driving you to work for positive changes either in society or in your own life, your impatience may be accompanied by anger. And anger can feel bad, like a no-no. But when your baseline emotional state changes from a ‘woe is me why must I wait and endure this,’ to an ‘I’m not doing this anymore, dammit, kind of resolve,’ you have moved into a higher energy level. And raising your energy level is cleansing. It’s energizing. It’s clarifying. And it’s like getting a great night’s sleep and eating awesomely healthy food for your psyche. 

Of course, you don’t want to stay in anger

Because it will eventually wear you slap out. And it is pretty easy to get stuck here. But that initial anger, when you’ve gone from trying to just endure and be patient and hang in there to being fired up to make a change, is gold. Use it. Harness it. Go with it. Give it expression. Let it come out through your actions and through your mouth to ask for and take actions toward the change you wish to see. 

Is there something you’re so angry about you’re ready to do something differently? You know, I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore kind of thing? Thank your impatience for that. 

Go find a way to express it

You don’t have to know everything you’re going to do to change the situation, but you can start with just the next right step, no matter how small. And then just keep taking the next right step. Your view will continue to open up, and the path forward will become clearer. All because you lost your patience. 

I can’t promise you that the change you’re now clear you want to make is going to happen quickly. We can try to recognize the right time and take steps to make it happen, but we don’t get to say, “NOW” and poof, it comes true. 

To practice maintaining poise during the process of making change, remind yourself, I trust that things are happening at the perfect time. It’s not as important when something happens as that it eventually does. 

Come Back Next Week!

That concludes our week on patience. Starting Monday, I’m taking a look at the second most popular things that listeners named as something they struggle with in terms of being a better person — judgment. I’m excited to dive into that with you! Have a great weekend. 


Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

My new daily podcast, How to Be a Better Person, is here to help by sharing one simple thing you can do in the next 24 hours to rise. My mission? To help you live your best life.

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