My name is Julie and I am an impatient person.
Anyone that knows me understands that although I can sometimes be patient — I am usually pretty patient with animals — I am generally extremely impatient. It is something that I understand about myself and have worked on improving over the years. My natural personality wants things to happen fast, or at least happen on time. I want people to get to the point when they are telling me a story. I prefer to operate with end results in mind.
I was reminded of my natural impatience yesterday as I listened (seemingly forever) to a client. She told me three long, drawn-out stories about the other pets in her household. Three long stories before she got to the point as to why she needed advice about her cat. Stories that I really did not need to hear and that had no bearing on the situation. Did I have to practice my patience? You bet I did.
This long story short scenario happens all too frequently for me.
Patience is such an important skill for veterinarians and for all of us. It is even considered an essential building block for improving mental health.This is why I find it so important for myself and all of us to continue to work towards increased patience.
Improving our patience requires that we learn about how we are wired — how we think about ourselves and others. Our thoughts create our feelings, so we must learn about the irrational thoughts that can overcome us when we are caught in the emotions of impatience. If we can understand that our impatient thoughts are optional, we will be better able to communicate calmly and adjust our responses in order to keep client encounters positive and remain patient.
Improving patience requires us to act like an adult. Children throw tantrums to get what they want but adults learn to control their emotions. Emotions are powerful things. If we can learn why we have these emotions, we can become better at actually feeling the emotion of impatience without allowing it to control our actions. Sitting with impatience is a skill that can be learned and practiced.
Patience will help us to succeed by allowing us to better listen to others. We all know that getting the entire story from a client can take time. I enjoy the detective work that goes into getting a good history to help me to diagnose a case. The detective work often takes patience as the client fills me in on seemingly unimportant facts so I can weed out the things that I need to help with a correct diagnosis.
Learn how you respond to waiting. Once you learn about your response, you will be better able to understand and feel your impatience. Understanding that impatience is not often a useful emotion will allow you to let it go and improve your ability to develop your patience.
Keep practicing. You know that I will.
Dr. Julie Cappel
“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.” - David G. Allen