To Top

How to ‘Re-Program’ Your Brain to Be Patient

Just how patient are you?

Each of us has a different tolerance level when it comes to getting what we want. We all have motivations and aspirations, but what sets one person from another is the way one deals with the game of waiting. It is human nature to become impatient on certain occasions, especially if we don’t get what we want right now. While that is just fine, in reality, our impatience, if left unattended, can cause undue stress and sometimes irrational behavior. That is why it is important to have a better understanding of where such impatience comes from and how to handle it to your advantage.

Your brain’s two systems


It is believed that our brain bears the task of programming our thoughts and pre-dispositions, much like how a traffic light works. The “green-and-go” system is found in the recesses of the brain and is responsible for putting a sense of order and focus on your goals, as well as fuelling you with the energy to achieve them. It is rather efficient in that it makes your aspirations and wants clear for you, even those that may no longer appeal to you or you have no plans of pursuing at the present time.

Whenever a situation like this occurs, the “red-and-stop” system (which is located in your frontal lobes), is doing its job. It effectively causes you to hesitate and come up with ways to prevent you from doing what you’ve originally set out to do. Hence, impatience now happens when the green light has gotten you raring to do it right now, and the red light is having difficulty preventing you. Unfortunately, even though you’re able to hold that particular urge in check, you are still bound to feel uneasy, unless you come up with a means to deactivate the green system from its tenacity to reach the goal.

Fortunately, there are ways (and very simple ones, too) that you’d never thought would be effective to battle impatience.

Give yourself some space

Give space

Your brain’s green-and-go system allows you to zero in on goals that can be attained as the brain perceives it to be. But the farther a goal is from your horizon, the lesser it gives you motivation. Therefore, if you could just put some space (much like if you want to get over someone) between you and the goal, you would be well on your way to bringing down the drive that your green-and-go system has created. Your next question might be, “how do I do that exactly?” Well, there are ways to choose from.

Physical distance is the most obvious one, or as the saying goes — “out of sight, out of mind.”  Mental space, on the other hand, can help you not to get in temptation’s way. By nature, people get a kick out of the experience of being tempted, and this can test our patience to the limit. We can’t help ourselves but picture the interesting details, which whet our appetite and make us impatient . But we need not be self-abnegating; perhaps we just need to perceive more abstractly the temptations. Let’s let our mind wander into temptation but not be obsessed with it.

Find a distraction


Your green-and-go system directs you to target one goal at a time, which is the reason why your patience is tested. All else seems to become less significant when your system drives you to reach a certain goal enthusiastically. But if you can just re-direct your attention to another goal or distraction, then the urge that you’re battling with will be lessened. In other words, go and look for something else to enjoy and be busy with. As you run  after that other goal, you are less likely to feel impatient because your energy is not concentrated on just that one.

Call a Friend

It may be a struggle and a cycle whenever you consciously try to program the interplay between your green and red systems. When it gets too much to bear that you now feel stressed out, back off a bit and seek respite from a friend , family member, or your significant other.  When you find another person who does not have the same obsession as you do, then being with that person can help you take your mind off your impatience. And the more you talk to people who do not share your goals, the more patient you will become.

While it is unavoidable to feel the nagging call of impatience, there are simple, sure-fire ways to recognize its onset and deal with this stress-inducer effectively. We merely have to be patient enough to deal with the symptoms as they manifest.

More in Career & Self-Development

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply