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“I Hate Waiting!” How to Become More Patient in 4 Steps

Waiting is agonizing for some people with ADHD who experience problems with patience, time-blindness, and delaying gratification. If waiting feels painful, use the WAIT strategy when you find yourself in a long line, on hold, in a waiting room, or enduring any other of life’s inevitable hold-ups.

We’ve all been waiting.

The act and practice of waiting dominated life during the pandemic. We waited to see friends and family, for test results, for toilet paper and Lysol, for a vaccine appointment, and for the green light to emerge in public unmasked. (Some of us, to be clear, are still waiting.)

The pandemic surely heightened the experience of waiting, which we already know is a part of everyday life — and a challenging one at that. It’s especially hard for those with ADHD, who struggle with patience, time-blindness, and delaying gratification. For these individuals, waiting can be almost painful.

To my impatient patients with ADHD, I teach the WAIT strategy described below. Follow these tips to ease your discomfort and increase your tolerance around waiting.

The WAIT Strategy

What are the situations in which you are most likely to have to wait?

Walk yourself through these scenarios and identify all of the waiting times so that you won’t become surprised — and even more impatient.

[Read: The Power of Patience]

  • Do you often wait in traffic during your commute?
  • Are check-out lines longer at certain stores?
  • Do you find yourself waiting in lobbies or exam rooms?
  • Is there a friend or co-worker who is habitually late and keeps you waiting?

Adjust your expectations and responses to the situation.

Have a plan. Would it be better to start your commute or to shop at popular stores at off-peak times?

Expect to wait in the situations that you’ve identified, and use that time to your advantage. Answer messages on your phone, double check your daily schedule, read a book, or sort through mail.

Release some of your stress with deep breaths and neck and shoulder stretches. Take a moment to be in the present and notice your surroundings with curiosity and mindfulness. Bring along something to entertain yourself, like a podcast during your commute, or reading material for the waiting room.

[Read: 7 ADHD Relaxation Techniques]

Instill an “I can do it,” positive attitude.

Remind yourself that you have waited before and that you can overcome the challenge of waiting yet again. Remember that waiting will always be a part of life, and that it can be a positive time-out of your hectic daily schedule.

Treat yourself!

Track your tolerance for waiting and notice your accomplishments when managing your impatience. Give yourself a pat on the back and reward yourself when you have met the challenge and succeeded!

Using the WAIT strategy can help you maneuver life’s holdups. Walking through these steps helps develop a sense of mastery and control for situations that feel imposing and frustrating.

I Hate Waiting: Next Steps


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1 Comments & Reviews

  1. I knit to help me cope with waiting. Or just when I have to sit still and listen. If I need directions with me, I scan and print a copy, rather than hauling an entire book. It has many benefits–it can be a conversation starter. It relaxes the people around me, rather than hyping them up like fidgeting would. It also lets people in authority know…that I won’t go away until they deal with me. And the side benefit is I have lots of hats and sweaters. If someone asks me to knit for them, I generally refuse–or I charge a minimum of $10 per hour, to be sent to a charity of mutual agreement. (I’m retired, and don’t need money.) The downside–my right brain refuses to count beyond two. If I have my knitting, my purse, and a third item, I’m at very high risk of leaving something behind. I’m learning to keep all three items in my cone of vision–and that helps. Also, I’m learning that if I’m wearing a sweater somewhere and I take it off, it should go in my bag or stay in front of me! But hey–a fidget with payoff–what’s to lose?

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