Impatience - Personality & Spirituality (2023)

Impatience - Personality & Spirituality (1)

IMPATIENCE is one ofseven basic character flaws or “dark” personality traits. We all have the potential for impatient tendencies, but in people with a strong fear of missing out, Impatience can become a dominant pattern.


  • 1 What is impatience?
    • 1.1 My impatience
  • 2 Components of impatience
    • 2.1 Early Negative Experiences
    • 2.2 Misconceptions
    • 2.3 Fear
    • 2.4 Strategy
    • 2.5 Persona
    • 2.6 Positive and Negative Poles
    • 2.7 Handling Impatience
    • 2.8 Further Reading

What is impatience?

Impatience is usually defined as:

irritation with anything that causes delay;

a restless desire for change and excitement; [1]

To be impatient is to feel and show hostility towards (or at least about) things which obstruct, frustrate or delay one’s goals. Impatient people resent being held up, whether intentionally by another person or just accidentally in the normal course of events.

(Video) The Power of Impatience! | Ted Coiné | TEDxNavesink

Impatience has some similarity to the emotion of anger. Animals and people alike become enraged in response to deliberate outside threats to their well-being, or the well-being of their loved ones. The anger is partly an expression of the fear that comes from being threatened, invaded or mistreated, and partly a sort of warning shot, a firm “No!” to deter the outside threat from going any further.

Impatience is also somewhat different from anger, however, in that the impatient person is predisposed to perceive virtually all situations as threatening—not to their survival per se but to their goals. More exactly, it is as if their survival depends upon the accomplishment of as many goals as possible as quickly as possible.

My impatience

I have impatience as my chief feature, so I can describe it from first hand experience.

My impatience was initially a complete blind spot for me. I did not know how impatient I was until it was pointed out to me. (This is true of chief features generally.) There are various giveaway signs, however: constant jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding, swearing at the slightest frustration, and a proneness to high blood pressure. I once asked around some Michael students who knew their overleaves and found that all those diagnosed with hypertension also had a chief feature of impatience.

The main characteristic of impatience as I experience it, though, is a constant nagging fear of not being able to get enough done before I die.

Components of impatience

Like all chief features, impatience involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Early Negative Experiences

In the case of impatience, the key early negative experiences revolve around being left out of activities. Perhaps the child was never allowed to participate in important events or decisions with the rest of the family. Perhaps the child was never allowed out of the house to have a normal social life like the rest of the kids. Either way, the child was left with a sense of missing out on life.


From persistent experiences of missing out or being left out, the child comes to perceive himself as needing to make up for lost time:

(Video) Are You Impatient? Watch This! | Eckhart Tolle

The rest of the world is ahead of me. It’s so unfair. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Life is so short. Time is running out. I have wasted too much time already.

I have to get through every task as quickly as possible. I have no time for distractions, diversions, obstructions, failures.

Anything that slows me down is unacceptable.


Based on the above misconceptions and early negative experiences, the child becomes gripped by a specific kind of fear. In this case, the fear is of missing outbeing unable to squeeze the maximum value out of every single second of life, being stuck in the present moment’s activity when the most important thing in life lies in the future, being unable to do all that needs doing before death strikes.


The basic strategy for coping with this fear of missing out is to constantly resist spending time in the present and to virtually force one’s way into the future. Typically this involves:

  • rushing through activities as quickly as possible, and rushing from one activity to the next;
  • seeing others as either a help or a hindrance, and pushing hindering people out of the way;
  • not tolerating slowness, delay or failure, either in others, in oneself or in life itself;
  • being constantly prepared to go on the offensive, clenched and tensed up, ready to push ahead and punch a hole through any obstruction;
  • reacting aggressively to any perceived hold-up.

The impatient child decides that he has to make the most of every remaining moment. Any opportunity to achieve his goals must be fully exploited. A single wasted moment is like another nail in his coffin.


Emerging into adulthood, the individual does not want go around being overtly afraid and insecure about running out of time before meeting death. Instead, he pretends—or rationalises—that his restlessness and hostility have nothing to do with him. It’s just that he has some very important work to do and other people keep getting in the way.

(Video) Why Patience is Power | Priceless Benefits of Being Patient

Hence the chief feature of impatience puts on a mask which says to the world, “It’s not me. It’s just that what I am doing right now is extremely important and urgent. And the thing I am doing next is even more important and urgent. So either help me out right now or **** off.”

All people are capable of this kind of behaviour. When it dominates the personality, however, one is said to have a chief feature of impatience.

Positive and Negative Poles

In the case of impatience, the positive pole is termed AUDACITY and the negative pole is termed INTOLERANCE.

Audacity is a willingness to take risks, to leap in where others fear to tread, ideally without causing any harm.

Intolerance, of course, is the absolute unwillingness to accept or endure any distraction, interference, obstruction or delay, no matter who or what the source. This can lead to angry outbursts and destructive behaviour.

Impatience - Personality & Spirituality (3)

Any source of delay or obstruction is unacceptable. Inanimate objects can be just as infuriating as as, say, incompetent road users or tardy school children. A car that won’t start first time is experienced as much an imminent threat as a burglar in the bedroom. Life itself can be regarded as a constant, unyielding obstacle.

(Video) Is Impatience Destroying Your Life?! | Russell Brand

Impatience is a key factor in what used to be known as the Type A personality. Typically these are highly competitive personalities (characteristic of young souls with a goal of dominance) as well as impatient. They are set up to be frustrated in their constant desire to achieve as much as possiblenow. It used to be believed that all highly driven people were prone to coronary heart disease. It is now thought that it is not the competitiveness or striving per se that foster heart disease but the level of hostility. This could be from a chief feature of impatience or a mode of aggression, or both.

Handling Impatience

As with every chief feature, the key is becoming conscious of how impatience operates in oneself. If you have impatience, you can begin by observing the persona in action:

  • Do I exaggerate the importance and urgency of my activities?
  • Do I see other people as either a help or a hindrance? Do I push and shove unhelpful others out of the way?

Try to catch yourself in the act of putting on your “I must quickly do something important” mask.

Then dig deeper:

  • Why must I get everything done now?
  • Why do I keep rushing to get to the next moment, the next activity?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What do I fear would happen if I never got everything done and out of the way?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counsellor, therapist or at least a close friend:

  • Where does this fear of missing out come from?
  • How was I hurt?
  • Can I let it go?

Insight in itself will not remove the impatience. By the time you reached adulthood, the neural pathways underlying your chief feature were pretty well established in the brain. Nevertheless, the brain is plastic, malleable, reconfigurable. Just as you can become more aware of impatience through self-observation and self-enquiry, so too you can gain more control over it through using that awareness and by exercising choice in the moment.

  • Whenever I feel like punching life out of the way, I will now be more willing to accept the limitations of time.
  • I will be more willing to let my goals slide. I will never get it all done before I die anyway.

Another way to handle a chief feature is to “slide” to the positive pole of its opposite. In the case of impatience, if you feel yourself getting caught in the grip of intolerance, the negative pole of impatience, you can re-balance yourself using the positive pole of martyrdom, namely selflessness. In other words, you focus attention on what someone else is seeking or trying to do, and you do something to help them even though there is no personal gain to be had. Spending time acting selflessly is a way to short-circuit the fear of missing out.


(Video) 3 Meditation Methods to Cure Impatience

Further Reading

Impatience - Personality & Spirituality (4)For an excellent book abut the chief features and how to handle them, see Transforming Your Dragons by José Stevens.

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What is impatience personality characteristics? ›

What does it mean to be impatient? Impatient personality types are ready to get things done. They're often the ones moving projects forward, advancing new ideas, and looking for ways to cut through bureaucratic red tape. Waiting is anathema to the impatient person.

What does impatience say about a person? ›

Oddly enough, being an impatient person means you're also apt to put things off rather than get them done sooner. That's because being a procrastinator and being impatient are both personality traits that are based on a need for immediate outcomes and rewards.

What is the root cause of impatience? ›

Impatience has its roots in frustration. It's a feeling of rising stress that starts when you feel that your needs and wishes are being ignored.

Is impatience a character flaw? ›

Many impatient people feel guilty for the way they are. They see their haste as a character flaw. But the truth is, impatience is a virtue, not a vice.

What personality types are the most impatient? ›

ENTJs are one of the most impatient personality types around but that's both their strength and their weakness. The natural impatience of many ENTJs is what drives them to do more and be more, but it can also lead to conflict and restlessness.

What causes impatient behavior? ›

Causes of impatience can be stress, fear, and worry in any type of situation, but it's especially prevalent in the workplace. If you feel like someone or something is letting you down or not performing up to par, you can become impatient. Time is also a huge factor in workplace impatience.

What are 3 things people are impatient about? ›

5 situations that are guaranteed to test your patience
  • People walking slowly in front of you in the supermarket.
  • Waiting forever to get seated or served in a restaurant.
  • Waiting on hold.
  • Queuing – just about anywhere.
  • Waiting for your luggage after a long-haul flight.
Mar 20, 2020

Is impatience a strength or weakness? ›

From the perspective of leadership coaching and intelligent leadership, impatience is an attempt to force life to deliver answers. People trying to wring answers out of life instead of allowing them to unfold at their own pace find that impatience is a weakness. Impatience is the mother of mistakes.

What causes a person to have no patience? ›

Success of another person – We get impatient when another person is doing better than us. Burden – When we want to complete all of those tasks in less time. Attitude & winning Factor – When we don't want to listen to another person. Low resisting power – Impatience causes when we try to avoid things we do regularly.

How do you cure lack of patience? ›

How to have patience in life
  1. Reframe the issue. When you're in an irritating situation, try to think about why it bothers you. ...
  2. Practice mindfulness. ...
  3. Show gratitude. ...
  4. Practice acceptance. ...
  5. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. ...
  6. Slow down. ...
  7. Try to have fun. ...
  8. Improve your listening skills.
Aug 2, 2022

How do you cure impatience? ›

Some strategies for change include:
  1. Breathing! Take deep, slow breaths, and count to 10. ...
  2. Scanning your body. ...
  3. Changing your thoughts around the source of your impatience. ...
  4. Using coping statements or mantras that promote patience and a sense of calm. ...
  5. Accepting imperfection. ...
  6. Being mindful. ...
  7. Fueling yourself.
Jun 19, 2017

What do you call a person with no patience? ›

im·​pa·​tient (ˌ)im-ˈpā-shənt. Synonyms of impatient. : not patient : restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay, or opposition. : intolerant sense 1. impatient of delay.

What are weak character traits? ›


Can impatience be a strength? ›

However, impatience can be an essential driver in your growth. It keeps you from settling and waking up 20 years later, complacent and miserable. Your impatience may make you the next successful corporate leader or entrepreneur. Use it to keep you from standing still when doing so no longer serves you.

Is impatience a good quality? ›

Impatience is a motivator.

You might say it's the opposite of complacency. If you find yourself generally impatient it might be a signal that you have untapped creative energy bubbling inside of you. Released it and put it to use!

What is the most difficult personality to deal with? ›

1. The Passive-Aggressive is the absolute worst on this list because they are the most common. They'll appear to comply with the needs of others, but will then passively resist following through. Or they might use indirect methods to express their thoughts and feelings, so their intentions are never entirely clear.

Which zodiac is very impatient? ›

They're the ones that like things done their way , as the planet Mars that rules them itself is called the commander Planet in Astrology, making Aries the most impatient star sign.

What personality type takes everything personally? ›

INFJ personalities are often seen as those quiet, sensitive types who are easily upset and seem to take everything personally.

What is an impatient person called? ›

anxious, eager, irritable, keen, restless, testy, thirsty, abrupt, agog, antsy, appetent, ardent, athirst, avid, breathless, brusque, chafing, choleric, curt, demanding.

What are examples of impatience in everyday life? ›

Impatience often comes as a result of not surrendering to a situation that we really cannot fight. Getting stuck in traffic, waiting on someone late for a meeting or being sidelined by someone else's mistake are examples of the need to surrender to a reality that we cannot change.

Is Impatient a feeling or emotion? ›

Impatience is a feeling that arises when particular conditions come together in a specific moment.

Is impatience a form of anger? ›

The German philosopher Georg W. F. Hegel said, “Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there.” And that's how impatience leads to frustration or anger from being unable to do something you want to do. It's easy to see how we can quickly get to anger.

Is impatience a form of stress? ›

People who frequently become impatient and angry are in a constant state of stress. The body reacts to that stress by releasing hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol which help the body respond to a stressful situation.

Is being impatient a form of anxiety? ›

Mental and emotional symptoms of anxiety

Feeling irritable, impatient or short-tempered. Being negative, worried, low in mood or depressed.

Why do I get irritated and angry so easily? ›

Many factors can cause or contribute to irritability, including life stress, a lack of sleep, low blood sugar levels, and hormonal changes. Extreme irritability, or feeling irritable for an extended period, can sometimes indicate an underlying condition, such as an infection or diabetes.

Is impatience linked to anxiety? ›

But despite its usefulness, impatience does have a dark side: It's a breeding ground for frustration, stress, and anxiety.

How do you teach patience? ›

5 Tips for Teaching Patience to Children
  1. 1 – Make it a Positive Experience. When your child is young, it's hard for them to conceptualize the need for or benefits of patience. ...
  2. 2 – Let Them Experience the Wait. ...
  3. 3 – Keep Your Promises. ...
  4. 4 – Give Them Information. ...
  5. 5 – Have a Countdown or Visual Representation.
Feb 16, 2019

Why is it hard to be patient? ›

Being patient means that we have to accept that we're living in a moment of uncertainty and when our brains loooove certainty it can make it feel very difficult.

Why do I lose patience so easily? ›

Reasons Why We Lose Patience

Someone doesn't catch our meaning quickly enough. Someone repeatedly makes the same mistake, despite being corrected each time. The changes we want happen too slowly. Certain projects take too long or seem inefficient.

What's a word for someone who acts like they don't care? ›

Some common synonyms of unconcerned are aloof, detached, disinterested, incurious, and indifferent. While all these words mean "not showing or feeling interest," unconcerned suggests a lack of sensitivity or regard for others' needs or troubles.

What is the most common weakness of a person? ›

Examples of Weaknesses.
  • Self-criticism.
  • Shyness.
  • Lack of knowledge of particular software.
  • Public speaking.
  • Taking criticism.
  • Lack of experience.
  • Inability to delegate.
  • Lack of confidence.

What are signs of strong character? ›

What are examples of strong character traits?
  • Tenacious.
  • Confident.
  • Optimistic.
  • Self-aware.
  • Adaptable.
  • Flexible.
  • Drama-free.
  • Reliable.
Jan 24, 2023

What are 3 negative qualities about yourself? ›

Take personal stock of yourself on both a personal and professional level and be honest about how you see yourself, or even how others perceive you, in terms of less-than-perfect qualities.
For example:
  • Tardiness.
  • Short temper.
  • Lack of organization.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Stubbornness.
  • Messiness.
  • Poor time management.
  • Bossiness.

What is the advantage of impatience? ›

Being impatient has the following advantages: It creates urgency. It drives you to an outcome. It makes you be unreasonable.

What are examples of impatience? ›

Impatience is the tendency to be irritable or easily frustrated. A bus driver's impatience often results in her yelling, honking her horn, and gesturing angrily at other drivers. If you are easily annoyed or provoked, your impatience is showing.

How do you behave with impatience people? ›

How to deal with impatient people – 7 easy ways
  1. Show them you're listening. Impatient people want to be heard. ...
  2. Do not ask them to calm down. ...
  3. Do not react. ...
  4. Allow them to talk. ...
  5. Ask how you can help. ...
  6. Be open and honest. ...
  7. Don't waste your energy. ...
  8. Understand where they're coming from.
Oct 2, 2021

How can being impatient be a strength? ›

How Impatience Makes You More Successful
  1. Impatience teaches us patience. It's very easy to be patient with people that don't test our patience. ...
  2. Impatience is a motivator. Impatience and inspiration are like two sides of a coin. ...
  3. Impatience is coded information. Your impatience may be trying to tell you something.

How do you overcome lack of patience? ›

How to have patience in life
  1. Reframe the issue. When you're in an irritating situation, try to think about why it bothers you. ...
  2. Practice mindfulness. ...
  3. Show gratitude. ...
  4. Practice acceptance. ...
  5. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. ...
  6. Slow down. ...
  7. Try to have fun. ...
  8. Improve your listening skills.
Aug 2, 2022

What do you call a person who has no patience? ›

im·​pa·​tient (ˌ)im-ˈpā-shənt. Synonyms of impatient. : not patient : restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay, or opposition. : intolerant sense 1. impatient of delay.

Is being impatient a good trait? ›

Impatience is a form of haste whereby you are unable to sit tight and wait your turn; instead favoring a more active approach. While impatience is often seen as a negative character trait, people who are considered driven, gritty, or otherwise motivated to achieve their goals often share an impatient streak.


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