The Secret Behind Your Impatience (and Why What You’ve Learned Isn’t Helping You)

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That amazing summer program. That inspiring master class. That breakthrough lesson. Almost all of us have experienced a learning event that filled us with information, where discoveries and realizations were made and progress occurred. It’s a great feeling, and those events excite us about the future and we eagerly look forward to our continuing growth from that point on, equipped with this new found information.

And it usually works – for a little while. But typically, once outside of the event itself, other factors move in to that once-inspired space. We become burdened with something else. The environment isn’t the same. The thing we learned isn’t working anymore. The original problem seems to return, and so that feeling of having a beautiful new shiny key to the future seems lost once again, and that can cause feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and depression, and a desperation to find something else that might make things better again. When problems overshadow the great discoveries and strides we’ve made, and we can’t seem to solve those problems, the search for a “fix” begins. Something that will make us feel better and will get us to where we want to be.

Problems are usually perceived as hardships, and without a solution insight we turn to consumerism.

Consumerism intentionally leads us to believe that we will feel happier once something is acquired. Sometimes that’s an object (new clothes! new phone!), and sometimes it’s an information product, like a course or a lesson. And it’s normally true – there is usually an immediate satisfaction that occurs as the direct result of consuming. We admire the object, we are excited about learning the information, etc. Unfortunately, the immediacy is the end goal of consumerism. It doesn’t care how you feel after the product has been acquired, because its mission has been achieved. The satisfaction, joy, and pleasure from the consumable, however, is almost always fleeting.

In order for capitalism to thrive, it needs you to consume things. And so a marketing approach was created in order to make you feel this way. Examples of this consumerism date back to the turn of the 20th century. Whatever was for sale was advertised in a way to lead you to believe that you needed it, whether you did or not. One of my favorite examples of this is the advertising associated with soft drinks. No one needs a soda, and yet it is a multi-billion dollar industry. The product itself is never discussed in advertising, however – we are instead shown a desirable lifestyle: people laughing, enjoying each other’s company, dancing…according to the advertisers, people drinking sodas are having really awesome lives.

Everything around us points to the need for perpetual growth, and our economy has been set up in such a way that it depends on it. As we have all seen, when society decides to hold back on spending and consuming, the economy typically suffers.

And because our economical disposition is such a large part of our society, it is easy to see why this kind of marketing and living pattern is so prevalent in all aspects of our lives. We have come to expect immediate results and when we get them, we are happy. And when we don’t, we become frustrated and impatient.

It’s not a matter of whether or not what’s being sold is of value – oftentimes it is. But once we have it, the excitement tends to wear off rather quickly, just like a child who gets a new toy and plays with it for hours upon hours for a week and then becomes disinterested. We love our new product or information, but once the excitement of acquiring it is over, there’s a problem: in order to fully receive the value of what we got, which in some cases of information could last perpetually, we must consciously decide to use the information, to care for it, and to look for creative ways to assimilate it into our lives. This takes effort, and its yielding result is not always immediate.

So it’s easy to see why things that would normally take time to accomplish could be problematic, and problem-solving itself can take time. When this happens, we often turn to consumerism because we know it has an immediate effect. We want this instant gratification to take place in all aspects of our lives and if it doesn’t, we tend to ignore what might take longer to achieve to look for anything that would give immediate results in order to relieve us of this frustration.

Shopping, drinking, food, services: these are all typical examples of consumerism that are often used to replace something that could help us but would take more time to yield a result. It’s magic pill syndrome – if we could just read something, if we could just get something, if we could just do something that would give us an immediate effect thereafter – that’s what we want.

We go to lessons and coachings and take summer programs and courses and read books, and while all of that is wonderful, and it (hopefully) gives us valuable information, we have the expectation that it will be the single solution to whatever issue we present. Rather, it is the gateway to that solution, and to work toward the solution itself now takes time, where what was acquired can be used and assimilated to help us move closer to our goals.

And yet because of consumerism – that need for immediate satisfaction – often times that work never gets done. It’s hard. It takes effort, and focus, and – of course – time. So instead of taking that valuable information and learning how to use it over a period of time and assimulating it into our behavior, we instead cast that information aside and look for the next magic pill that may make things better quicker. Like now.

So what is the solution to this? If consumerism has become such an ingrained a part of our culture and of our economy, how do we then take advantage of our discoveries and make great use out of them, therefore getting our full value?

The answer lies within a mindset shift: we must realize that there are worthwhile things that take longer to acquire and to achieve, and that information acquired that can help us is usually the start of this, not the end. And sometimes that means we will not get immediate gratification. The good news about this: when we don’t get that direct satisfaction we can understand that it is because this is a longer journey, and that it’s OK, rather than seeing it as a failure or a major disappointment. The information we get is not going to change how we do things unless we invest the time into actually using that information consistently, without the insistence that it yield an immediate result. Without this step, we soon tend to forget we ever learned the information, only to recall it when another source mentions something similar.

So the next time you’re looking for a solution to a problem, first be sure that whatever you choose to help you get that solution is something that actually has the potential to assist you (that new gadget might make you happy but it’s not going to help you solve your creative block). And then acquire your product/information with care, knowing that if your goal is something that is a progressive work, lasting results will take effort on your part. You can blame your impatience on consumerism. The use of what you acquired, however, is up to you.

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