“Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” ~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter
Last week we looked at “exercising” patience with circumstances and how, if we responded right, we would actually become stronger. Circumstances can be hard, especially the ones we cannot change—the ones that we have no choice but to “power through.”
Patience with people raises the bar to a new level. There are some real jerks in our world, aren’t there? The co-worker who steals our ideas and presents them as his or her own. The person at school who is bent on making you look like a loser. The spouse or roommate who is in the perpetual bad mood and makes you feel you cannot do anything right. AND the teenage—oh my goodness—getting through that phase makes us eligible for sainthood. All I can say is, it is a good thing they came as cherub-like babies or else the human race would have disappeared a long time ago.
Patience with people comes from practice-practice-practice. It also comes from trying to understand with it is like in their shoes. We don’t know what has happened in their formative years to bend them into who they are today. We don’t know what their life is like now—home-life, health, financial matters, fears, insecurities, and sorrows.
Another thing, have you noticed how people are different, but somehow strangely the same? Some are like fiery General Pattons. It is their way or the highway. They are always right even when they are wrong. It is never their fault. But on the other hand, they are great leaders, quick thinkers, and they get things done. Some are like the breeze. Playful, exciting, and fun. But they are also messy, disorganized, and scatterbrained. There are those like a bubbling brook. Easy, refreshing, reflective, but also slow, lazy, and lack motivation. Finally, there are those who are grounded. They are the ones who shoot down great ideas with all the things that could go wrong, and they have the charts, graphs, and research to prove it. But these people are dependable, accurate, and trustworthy.
Understanding that people are “hard-wired” a certain way helps with patience. I recommend Laurie Beth Jones’ book, The Four Elements of Success, to help understand the people in your life. Although the book is focused on team building at work, she points out that families are teams. In it she uses the visuals of earth, wind, fire, and water, to help understand our personality types. Another good book is Florence Littaeur’s book, Personality Plus. She goes into depth on family dynamics. I like to use them both.
If we take into account that people have different life experiences and personalities , it will help us to practice patience. Picture a stick of dynamite with a long fuse. Let’s say someone lights yours. You have a choice to let that fuse burn until it reaches the explosion point or you can grab the scissors of patience and cut the fuse before it reaches that point.
At first, this is hard. Those of you who are General Pattons may consider it impossible. But with practice it can be done. And if you think about it, cleaning up after an explosion is harder, more time consuming, and really things are just not the same even after the repair work is done. To make things better, you have to start all over. It can be done.
Let’s all get a pair of scissors and put them where we will see them often to remind us to cut the fuse. I recommend children’s round tip kind. The pointy ones may be too much of a temptation, if you know what I mean!
Have a great week, with no collateral damage!