hillary clinton - impatience 400

IMPATIENCE is one of seven 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.

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.

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.

Misconceptions

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

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.

Fear

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.

Strategy

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.

Persona

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.

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.

Impatience poles

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

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.

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 possible now. 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.

[1] wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Further Reading

TYDFor an excellent book abut the chief features and how to handle them, see Transforming Your Dragons by José Stevens.

40 Responses to “Impatience”


  1. 1 Valnea 04 Jul 2010 at 4:16 pm

    It is so truth. I have no patience. And I have a constant fear and sense of insecurity.

  2. 2 Jordan 10 Nov 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I am a habitually late person. I have recently realized that I somewhat subconsciously delay myself on purpose because I hate waiting. This lateness crosses over to things that will not make me wait, but are just undesirable things. I have not realized that this idea of Impatience was a part of me, it is very strange. I am a relatively patient person when it comes to most things, but when it comes to waiting for people, I cant stand it, so I selfishly make them wait for me.

    • 3 Swaraj Prasad 30 Nov 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Jordan! I am Swaraj from India. I am a happiness counselor where i am trying to bring happiness to your face. In any way u r not happy, we have the solution. Your problem is very simple, u r lacking a bit of patience. U felt so much upset when others are not coming on time but, u led others to keep on waiting for long time. What a selfish attitude this is? Really, have u ever asked to ur heart what that persons are feeling to you when u led them for a long wait. U know what our characters are not probabilistic not deterministic. means we can’t frame a particular person’s character in a time bound frame. may be u r a nice person, but nobody knows that u r nice, ur act determines how nice you are. Why r u thinking that others r not coming on time so i will also not go on time and i will 5 minute late of exact schedule. Then that time all are available for you. But, in that manner u r character is deteriorating day by day and one day u may be known to an infamous person for being so much impatient.
      Please, be patient for every thing for life, relationship, work, etc. Just u set target for punctuality so all will give the example of Jordan that he is a punctual person. So, this time be different, be patience, be good then see after one month all will like you and your life become smoother and smoother like a road.
      if u have any other queries then mail me at spakenja@gmail.com.

    • 4 Kim Manning Haynes 13 Jan 2014 at 10:57 pm

      Jordan’s response sounds just like myself, but I’ll need to read the other traits to get a further handle on which one best suits me.

  3. 5 Larry 10 Apr 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I found this article very interesting and profound. I believe that as a younger person I was a reasonably patient person. But in the last 35 years or so I have become increasingly impatient and it has had a negative impact on my life. I truly want to rid myself of this character defect and am taking steps to relax, slow down and enjoy others as they are without demanding that they act like I would like them to.

    Thanks, Larry

    • 6 barry 10 Apr 2011 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks Larry. Yes, I thought I was the model of patience until I became an adult. I didn’t spot it until I recognised my fear of dying too young, without achieving everything.
      - barry

  4. 7 Dankara 15 Jan 2012 at 10:07 am

    Great article! I came to see this trait in myself in the last few years, but the way that I came to a place of fearlessness (and audacity) was through becoming impatient about what I strongly believed was important, like healing and my spiritual well-being. I became impatient with abuse, mistreatment, and with people who were, for sinful reasons (ie envy and greed), intentionally holding me back. I was habitually impatient because I had all of these forces in my life that were looking to knock me down and keep me down, and I just underestimated the effect that they had on my psyche. The sad thing is, if I would have grown older and moved on without ever confronting those people, they would have stayed with me even after they were gone.

  5. 8 Puneet arora 22 Dec 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I am suffering from the same situation.i m totaly impatient guy d negativity and misconception,fear about what will gona happen next?
    i realy want treatment about dis

  6. 9 Maggie 12 Jan 2013 at 12:31 am

    I get angry at my self for swearing, now I understand. You have explained to me that no one or life has ever been able to do. The “Components of Impatience” is absolutely me. I am a selfless person and I always thought it came from rejection, Its probably the only way I can get people to like me. I get anxious if I am not liked. I don’t have a fear of death but I need to be in control of my safety, I would never do anything death defying. I also do not know how to have relationships not even with my children. I annoy the hell out of them by talking (not listening) because silence is uncomfortable for me and yes I have Hypertension. All my life I have always felt invisible and still do.

  7. 10 Relaxed 02 Apr 2013 at 2:17 am

    Thanks for posting. I am so impatient. Funny thing is people often see me as very laid back. I had some rejection issues in my youth from my classmates and am veerrry sensitive. I always believed i was the dorkiest dork. I have always thought everyone had it better because they didn’t have to deal with having a dorky personality. THEN major financial issues occurred during late high school to college years that left me having to pay for nearly everything on my own……which was good for me….but left me bitter bc I went to school with a bunch of spoiled rich kids. I now totally see how this correlates with my impatience. I am so hard on myself and have high aspirations but have become VERY impatient with my friends/loved ones. It scares me. This is an excellent first step recovery. So thank you a million for spelling this out.

    • 11 barry 02 Apr 2013 at 7:25 am

      Really glad you found it helpful!

  8. 12 Englightened 22 May 2013 at 9:28 pm

    This one twanged a highly strung string! Blimey, so THAT’s what’s been going on?! All this time I thought I was angry! Not really, just intolerant and way too busy to give anyone any time. Thanks for your help

    • 13 barry 22 May 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Bah – I don’t have time for this!

  9. 14 Wayne 17 Sep 2013 at 9:10 pm

    i’m surprised i had the patience to read this article but it was very true i kept on reading. very interesting

  10. 15 Marc 02 Oct 2013 at 8:15 pm

    It seems I struggle with *all* of the chief features (am I exhibiting self-deprecation right now?) to the extent that I have trouble identifying with any one – or even two – of them exclusively. But I have always struggled with this sense that time is running out, that I’ve wasted too much time, that life could be over any minute etc… I associate this with the passing of a parent at a very early age. But what’s interesting is I don’t tend to be impatient with people. (I can sometimes be impatient with inanimate objects that feel incompetently designed, i.e. like they’re rigged to sabotage my efforts, and – I wonder if this isn’t something more closely aligned with martyrdom, i.e. it’s not my fault, my life is just inherently impossible.) In fact as I’ve gotten older I realize I’ve developed kind of a plodding rhythm through life, with a tendency to wait too long and miss opportunities altogether. This brings me back to self-deprecation, and a tendency to take the easy way out and sell my self short.

    Anyway, as I was reading this article I was trying to “read between the lines” and perhaps identify my chief feature as impatience, given that so many elements of the description resonate with my (mis)perceptions about life. Then my phone rang, with a coworker whose chief feature is unquestionably impatience on the other end, and I decided that I probably don’t fit the bill. :)

    • 16 barry 03 Oct 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Haha! Thanks Marc.

      Self-sabotage is often at the milder end of self-destructive tendencies, but I think I’m not sensing that in your “voice”.

      As I’ve said, we can all probably recognise traces of all of these tendencies within ourselves. I have caught myself stepping into arrogance, greed, etc every now and then. I think different situations can evoke the underlying fears, which must be pretty much universal. But when it happens, it seems easy to spot – I am surprised to see myself acting “out of character”. The chief feature, though, will be the most pervasive and trigger-happy, and will seem “in character”.

      Anyway, I’m wondering if you might be showing signs of stubbornness, partly in that you may be playing “hard to get” with yourself, and you also mentioned a tendency to let opportunities go, which might be a way of avoiding the life changes that opportunities can provide…

      B

      • 17 Marc 30 Oct 2013 at 1:50 pm

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Barry! I regret that it took me a few weeks to realize you’d written it.

        Your interpretation of self-sabotage as a mild form of the self-destructive feature is insightful. As a younger man I definitely exhibited self-destructive tendencies – excessive drinking, risk-taking, etc. – but maturity and necessity (i.e. a family) have brought me past that. Perhaps self-sabotage is what remains.

        That you arrive at stubbornness from what I’ve written is perhaps more interesting, if only because I don’t generally consider myself (or the behavior I described in my post) as stubborn, and this resonates with the principle that our chief feature will tend to be a blind spot for us. I tend to regard my “willingness” to wait, for instance, as the opposite of stubbornness, but perhaps I’m just mislabeling inertia. Others have described me as stubborn and unchangeable, I can certainly see instances where I’ve “played hard to get” with both myself and others. Doing nothing is definitely in character for me, and the one recurring pattern I would most likely miss.

        It’s also striking to me that stubbornness sits in the center of the diagram of chief features, because when I do sense another weakness as being a part of my self, it is usually paradoxically and simultaneously associated with a seemingly contradictory weakness. The best example of this is arrogance vs. self deprecation, where my low self esteem is aggravated by a sense that I should be entitled to more, by virtue of intelligence, experience, or some other quality I (over)value in myself. There are similar, though less obvious, analogs in terms of greed vs. self-destruction, and impatience vs. martyrdom. Maybe they’re less obvious to me because I tend to frame my decisions in terms of self-worth, what one deserves in life, etc, thusly highlighting the arrogance/ self-deprecation pole.

        In any event, I appreciate your perspective and will make a point to go back and read more on stubbornness!

        • 18 barry 02 Nov 2013 at 7:44 pm

          Hi again Marc

          Another possibility occurs to me – perhaps you have the goal of Contentment (as I’ve called it; other names are flow, suspension, stagnation), which is basically about taking life as it comes rather than having a drive to get something specific out of life. The epitome of this is the Buddha, but also there are a number of famous figures such as William Shatner. People with this goal find that, in the positive pole, the more relaxed and positive they are, the more doors of opportunity just open as if by magic. In the negative pole, life stands still and the soul gets bored.

          Now then, a goal of Contentment with a CF of Impatience would be an “interesting” combination – you would have no great urge to do anything except to relax and be in the moment, but you would fear that you are missing out on all the things you could be doing if only you took action. From the ego’s point of view, time is running out and you need to do something about it. From the soul’s point of view, it’s all about fully living in the present.

          I could be barking up completely the wrong tree, so if none of this resonates then just ignore it.

          Cheers

          Barry

          • 19 Marc 19 Nov 2013 at 3:30 pm

            “I could be barking up completely the wrong tree, so if none of this resonates then just ignore it.”

            No, this fits the bill very well! I’m still coming to terms with the concept of the “Goal”, because the language to me implies something that one might arrive at late in life, and which will not necessarily be in evidence as he or she works toward it. What is described in the articles, and implied by your response, is something I might instead call a “mode”, i.e. one’s way of getting through their entire life. For instance, to me Contentment and Growth are the only goals that really make any sense* but my day to day mode of thinking and operation bears much more in the way of Rejection. (And as I grow older, I’m increasingly aware of the cost of bearing this trait.)

            In any case, there is no question that there is some sort of contradiction built into my persona. I once read a passage from an interesting book that categorized people according to their combined astrological sun sign, and Chinese zodiac animal. By this analysis, I’m a Capricorn Monkey. There is an inherent struggle between the Capricorn’s groundedness (Contentment?) and the Monkey’s showy, mischievous nature (Impatience?) I don’t know whether you put any stock in either of these systems, but the passage was alarmingly spot-on; I might as well have written it myself. It concluded by saying that Capricorn Monkeys are often tortured souls. “Interesting” combinations indeed. :)

            Barry, thank you again for your time and your thoughtful responses.

            *Acceptance also feels like a life goal to me, but here I mean the word differently than described in your articles, i.e. as a matter of accepting life for what it is, vs. accepting/ attracting others.

            • 20 Marc 19 Nov 2013 at 3:43 pm

              Apologies for replying to my own reply :) but I see I should have re-read the article on Contentment again before posting. Described instead as “Surrender”, Contentment perhaps best describes what I mean by the word “Acceptance”, and in this regard, it is very likely my life goal – to the extent that I almost cannot make sense of any of the others. Very insightful – thank you!

              • 21 mbenigni 19 Nov 2013 at 4:01 pm

                And now I feel foolish: I see there is a “Mode” described in these teachings as well as a Goal. I obviously have a lot of reading to do.

  11. 22 susan 08 Oct 2013 at 7:41 pm

    i often find myself pushing my partner into things. always asking wots next n where r we going now? when am i seeing u?
    its very frustrating because i kno he loves me and im not going to lose him but i find myself increasingly pushing for answers that dont need answered.
    he gets very short with me i kno this must be hard to deal with and i myself dont want to be like this.

    have u got any suggestions how i can fix my problem?

    • 23 barry 18 Oct 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Hi Susan

      Sorry it’s taken me ages to get back – health issues at this end.

      So, you have this compulsion (is that an ok word for it?) to forcefully question your partner, as though he were constantly hiding something from you, or about to run out on you.

      It seems that at an unconscious level you just can’t seem to trust him, even though at a more conscious level you actually do. That suggests there is something from your past history that is being triggered in this relationship. For example, did you lose a parent when you were very young?

      Some people have a fear of intimacy because (for example), as a young kid, they were very close to their Dad but then he suddenly walked out, or died, leaving them feeling abandoned and unbearably grief-stricken. The event sticks in their unconscious as a sort of template of what to expect, so they fear entering an intimate relationship again in case the same thing happens.

      I don’t think you are like that exactly, but I suspect something in your history has made you ‘expect the unexpected’ – a sudden abandonment by someone you consciously trust.

      Has this sort of pattern happened in other relationships, or is it unique to your current partner?

      Barry

  12. 24 isabella 28 Oct 2013 at 7:30 pm

    i am in a Medical Office class and need some spicific detailing.

    • 25 barry 30 Oct 2013 at 12:47 pm

      What’s the issue, Isabella?

  13. 26 peter 16 Nov 2013 at 11:38 am

    i feels bad when i need urgent answers and then the person am expecting to answer starts long stories that wont even relate to what i want..!!! is this being impatient???

    • 27 barry 02 Dec 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Well yes, and the fact that I made you wait 2 weeks for an answer probably didn’t help!

      There’s everyday impatience, where we just get frustrated at the slowness or obstructiveness of things around us.

      And then there’s Impatience with a capital I, a chief feature that is driven by a constant, deep-seated terror of missing out in life — missing whatever may be in some other place or time because I am physically stuck in this place and time.

      Which feels closer to what you’re describing?

      B

  14. 28 sab 17 Nov 2013 at 3:11 pm

    This was really awesome article and so totally me. I laughed aloud many times, especially the “help me dont hinder or get the f*&^ out of the way.” This is the story of my life. I did enjoy your response to Marc about the goal of contentment too. This is truly my goal and has been for several years. In fact, I have been laid off of jobs several times in the past several years and it has been excruciatingly painful finding productivity and things to do to make me feel worthy in the interim, until i found another job. I often felt like the universe was laying me off to make me feel the present instead of the constant push of goal accomplisment. So thanks for this. Very inspiring. Hope you are back to health and wholeness barry.

    • 29 barry 19 Nov 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Great to hear from you, sab
      I’m glad (or possibly sorry) you resonate so much with the article!
      Cheers
      B

  15. 30 Diane young 25 Nov 2013 at 12:44 pm

    You describe my younger sister here – now an nearly 60 adult who can ruin our get togethers sometimes because she’s so impatient . She’s aware of this – do think your book might help her at
    This stage in her life?

    • 31 barry 10 Feb 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Diane

      You mean, presumably, the book by José Stevens, Transforming Your Dragons? Yes, it gievs a variety of insights into impatience, what underlies it, and how to deal with it from psychological and more spiritual approaches. I suppose the question is, would she read that sort of thing? Or is she of the “can’t teach old dogs new tricks” mindset? Is she ‘open’ to self-help books like José’s? There are in fact amazingly few books on dealing with impatience, and I suspect that’s because our society itself is impatient and just sees it as a fact of life. There are some with a Christian/Biblical basis, if she’s that way inclined.

      You say she’s aware of it though, which in itself is one giant leap, the first essential step in the direction of improvement.

      Cheers

      Barry

  16. 32 Bob 09 Jan 2014 at 3:56 am

    I am intrigued by the posts here…as many seem to be.

    I am extremely frustrated by my own impatience. My wife (and others) feels that I am generally “angry” (vs. frustrated and vocal) when I cannot except “sluggish decision making.” My wife is an identical twin and has a life long (69 yr) habit of “debating” about even the simplest decision. She and her twin cannot avoid creating several possible outcomes for each potential course of action. I tend to be very quick at making decisions and cannot deal with those who don’t, without becoming agitated. I would like to be less confrontational when others need time to determine a course of action but find it very hard to “wait.” I have been working to understand my inability to relax and “go with the flow” yet feel I can rationalize my behavior based on the (my) need for closure.

    I’d like to “dial down” my impatience and attach less importance to the silly issues that frustrate me but….??? Not sure how to begin the process.

    • 33 barry 20 Jan 2014 at 8:22 pm

      Hello Bob, and my apologies for my “sluggish response”.

      What an intriguing setup: you feel a need for closure while your wife feels a need for expansion and openness. You like to convert the various possibilities into one specific actuality, while she likes to see how far the possibilities can go. The friction seems to come from your commitment to getting THE course of action NOW so that you can get on with it. I guess it doesn’t matter to you so much WHAT the course of action IS; what matters most is that you are swinging into action rather than toying with mere ideas.

      So a quick hypothetical analysis:
      you are, I guess, what may be called “physically centered”, meaning that you live in your body and your normal focus of awareness is physical movement and action, cause-and-effect, making stuff happen,getting stuff done. Your wife is probably intellectually centered, meaning that she lives in her mind and her normal focus of awareness is what stuff means and how things conceptually relate. She also may have a creative streak, so it is natural for her to explore possibilities ad infinitum.

      In theory, that could make for a perfect combination. She explores the various possibilities that you would probably overlook, while you make the decisions that, in reality, do need to be made and cannot be ignored. Something like that goes on with me and my wife. She is both creative and cautious – she meanders through possibilities that I would never see, but she’s on the lookout for things that could go wrong. I am more of a workhorse – tell me what to do and I’ll do it, just don’t ask me to think it through.

      Your impatience suggests that you are aware of this difference between you and her at some level but you EXPECT her to be on board with your need for actionable decisions. It’s as though you have an unspoken agreement to complement each other, but (as you perceive it) she is not living up to her side of the bargain by respecting your need for decision-making.

      Your impatience also suggests an attachment to decision-making that has some basis in fear rather than strong, healthy functioning. Is there a panic state lurking beneath the surface… The longer time goes on with no decision being made, the closer you feel to be on the edge of … What? What terrible thing is it that you associate with non-decisiveness or non-action?

      I would recommend that you explore that fear within yourself, see if you can explain it to your wife, and also see if you can explicitly “negotiate” with your wife some sort of agreement around decision making. You have to respect her way of being as perfect, just as yours is. The aim isn’t to change her or make her wrong; nor is it for her to change you or make you wrong. The aim is to consciously explore and find a way to bring your different ways of being together.

      I hope this helps,

      Barry

  17. 34 Mary 20 Feb 2014 at 11:35 am

    Like most people who have commented here I too am so incredibly happy that I stumbled a across this site while looking for information about introverts (which I am one!). I always thought my primary flaw was self deprecation, but thanks to this I have learned that impatience is actually my primary with self deprecation being my secondary. Long story short, I lost my mom to a heart attack at age 5 and had brothers who teased the shit out of me and a sister who wanted nothing to do with me. And, I was the spoiled bratt!!! My siblings and I live totally different lifestyles. One brother is in and out of prison (He was the black sheep. My father treated us all differently.) I feel so guilty (still) that I (although flawed) live a “more successful” life. So this article has helped me deal with my character flaws, but how do I deal with the guilt?

    • 35 barry 21 Feb 2014 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Mary

      Thanks for getting in touch. It’s great that you’ve figured out those character flaws.

      As for the guilt… I don’t know the specific history, of course, or where exactly you’re at with it, so I’ll cover a few possibilities that spring to mind and you can ditch whatever doesn’t fit. Also, if any of this is old hat, just skip it.

      Here are some options that occur to me:

      1) If you haven’t done so already, then consciously recognise and acknowledge that you are not responsible for the way your father treated his kids differently. Maybe there was something about you that he particularly liked, but that’s hardly your “fault”. He alone holds the responsibility for his choices and actions, including any bias or favouritism.

      2) If, on the other hand you DID secretly or furtively play an active part in deliberately securing his favour, then come clean. First with yourself if you haven’t already, then with your siblings if you think they can take it without killing you. But mainly yourself.

      I’m really not suggesting there WAS any such tactic or game-play on your part, but just IF there was then that would obviously be part of the guilt. If so, just admit it to yourself — maybe write down exactly and fully what it involved — and then throw it away and forgive yourself. You were a kid.

      3) Perhaps you ENJOYED your Dad’s biased favouritism, even while your siblings were having a rough time. Then you grew up and saw the unfairness of it all, and started feeling guilty because at the time you were simply enjoying being “the chosen one.” Perhaps you didn’t notice or understand the unfairness; perhaps you didn’t empathise with their bad experiences… But again, you were a kid growing up within the environment you found yourself in and had little control over. It’s very easy as an adult to look back and see what was wrong. But being a child, at an immature age, you were entitled to have immature perceptions, feelings and reactions.

      No amount of guilt (self-blame, self-punishment) on your part will change anything … It just feeds the *illusion* that if you suffer inner pain then that might somehow make amends for past injustices, i,e. balance things out with your siblings.

      Also, note that carrying guilt leaves you open to manipulation insofar as others may learn how to push your guilt button.

      4) You may need to be willing for your siblings to resent you forever more over the fact that you were unfairly well-treated. That is their choice, based on their truth as they perceive it within their individual perspectives, and according to their levels of maturity and insight. It’s not your responsibility to make them feel better about their lives.

      If YOU want to feel better about their lives, you can either do so internally (let go of the sorrow over something you cannot change – the past); or you can do so externally, with your siblings, as a way to bring some closure to this. You could, for example, write each one a letter saying, “Yes, our father treated me unfairly well and you were poorly treated. I totally agree with the unfairness of that, and I’m sorry and I wish it hadn’t been like that. But I didn’t cause it, and we can’t change the past. As a child I was entitled to enjoy whatever was good in my childhood, even if you didn’t enjoy yours. I am an adult now and I have no reason to feel guilty about the way our father treated us.” Or whatever works best for you and for each sibling.

      Of course, you don’t even have to relate to them if you don’t want to.
      Also, it’s possible that you might inspire them to move on by your own moving on.

      Well, I’m shooting in the dark here but I hope some of this at least provides suitable food for thought.

      Cheers Mary.

  18. 36 Mary 22 Feb 2014 at 10:57 am

    Damn you’re good! You would have a field day with me….
    Thank you.

    • 37 barry 23 Feb 2014 at 8:54 am

      :-)


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