I value the virtue of patience. Those who display patience toward others are easy to identify. They do not raise their voices and they wait their turn to speak in such a way that you forget they are even present. They appear unruffled in the midst of others who are wound tight and their demeanor appears gentle and composed.
But sometimes, the outward appearance of a patient person may not line up with their innards. In other words, they may not be as patient with themselves as they seem to be with another.
Extending Our Patience
Those who are impatient with themselves are a little harder to spot, but not impossible. Although they would never be short-fused with their kids, their dog or the grocery clerk, they are snappish with themselves. They make a mistake and either a silent or audible stream of words flow from their mouths and all over and onto themselves. Their demeaning shower of belittling expletives seems out of place and incongruent with their personality.
But those who seem patient with others and impatient with themselves just might hold two different sets of expectations. They anticipate a mistake from someone else and allow them wobble room. Yet, they hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior; one of perfection, and no wobble room is allowed.
Though we all know that nothing on this planet, including the people that populate it, will ever reach a state of perfection, some still strive toward the impossible mark of the ideal, faultlessness and an untainted self.
Striking out onto this path toward impossible perfection for ourselves only leads to rigidity, pernicketiness, and faultfinding. Certain unhappiness awaits those who cannot live and accept their own faults.
I suppose the greatest challenge to being human is to line ourselves up, to be congruent and maintain the harmony between our insides and our outsides. In other words, are my standards for myself and others realistic? Am I as composed with the grocery clerk, my kid or my dog as I would be with myself? If not, then why not?
Why bother with personal patience? Being patient with ourselves gives us the gift we are so willing to give to others, even strangers. We can all benefit from a little bit of gentle forbearance, even temperedness and wobble room.