We are an impatient society. When I was working with teenagers 30 years ago the average attention span of teens was “just” three minutes.
By today’s standards, three minutes seems like an eternity! Microsoft released a study in 2015 that found that people lose concentration after just eight seconds, meaning the average human has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Many blame the Internet and social media, and while I’m sure they have contributed to this issue, we need to get to the root of why impatience is so pervasive.
In my line of work, I see the damage done by the incessant need for instant versus delayed gratification. There have probably been thousands of studies that have concluded that delayed gratification is the pathway to success, whether it’s pertaining to your career or your financial well-being. Perhaps the most famous of all (just Google it), is the Marshmallow Test which was launched in the 1960s. Preschoolers were presented with two options: have one marshmallow now or wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows. One determining factor, the ability to have self-control, made a remarkable difference in the lives of preschoolers that the researchers followed well into adulthood. The children who were able to wait for the extra treat lived more successful, happier lives.
In other words, if you can control your need for instant gratification, you’ll likely score higher on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, make more money, have better relationships, get sick less often, and be more well-adjusted all around.
Now that we have established that we’re an impatient society, the big question is why? Why do you have to have the marshmallow now? In my many years of practice I’ve narrowed it down to two things: one, you are pursuing the wrong goals and two, you are dealing with unresolved anger.
First of all, when your goal is instant gratification, which means you seek are seeking pleasure or neutralizing pain, your stress levels immediately spike. When your goal is to live the best life you can live, however, the switch in your brain is turned off to stress. This results in a happier and healthier you!
Second, as I have shared many times, our unhealed memories cause us stress which leads to illness, disease and myriad unhealthy issues.This can take the form of unresolved anger and all the negative emotions related to anger - sadness, anxiety and worry. Sadness is generally rooted in the past. Something has happened and you feel pain. Anxiety and worry are centered in the future - I’m afraid something is GOING to happen. And lastly, anger is centered in the present -something is happening that I don’t want to happen. So these negative emotions that cause you to focus on “I want” rather than “what is best” spike your stress levels.
Now don’t get hung up on the word anger. In my work I have many say, “But I don’t feel angry Alex!” When you think about it, however, whatever is causing you to be impatient is almost always one of these emotions related to anger.
The root of impatience is an area that is unhealed and indicates some void. And that is what causes you to experience anger-related emotion when you don’t get what you want or when you use the instant gratification choice to choose “what” you want rather than what is best.
The real problem is what caused this pain in the first place and why am I choosing what I want as opposed to what is best for me? It is never about the extra cookie or the car you must “have” now. Impatience is really about you.
Most people think they can resolve this issue by being more patient, which is easier said than done. You may succeed in being more patient from an hour to a week but, because you have not addressed whatever unresolved anger issue you have, you’ll fall right back into bad habits.
This is why I walked away from my practice 17 years ago. After a few months in private practice I realized that trying to help people develop the will power to wait for two cookies almost never worked. There were no tools to find and fix the source of this insatiable need for instant gratification. I looked for 12 years and then discovered the Healing Codes. I’ve been teaching these methods to thousands of people in 50 states and more than 160 countries and I am excited to see how the Healing Codes help you make the choice to live your best life and not one driven by fear.