What Causes Impatience – 13 Reasons & Effective Treats (2024)

We all know patience is a virtue. And yet, we still struggle with impatience, in this era more than any before.

Fortunately, the more we understand the reasons behind an emotion, the more we can act consciously to cope with it. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes impatience and the best ways to overcome it.

Let’s jump right in!

1. Realization of Extra Costs for Reaching a Goal

This is the mother of all reasons — the root cause of impatience.

Every goal has its costs. And yet sometimes we underestimate the costs out of ignorance, neglect, or because of unexpected circumstances.

what causes impatience
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Whatever the reason, we can get awfully impatient whenever we realize that a goal would need more input than what we were prepared for. Our expectations are threatened and the agony of the process heightened so patient expectation becomes frustrating desperation to get the outcome.

For instance, you’re working on a project that after completion will allow you to go with your family on a vacation you promised. But then, along the way, you realize you have to wait for approval from executives for two more weeks. Apart from that, you need to go for some fieldwork that’ll take at least four days to complete – aagh! 

That’s the cost of more time. And of course, more effort. Your goal was so near but with this unexpected delay, it’s almost impossible to wait. You’re tempted to take shortcuts. Impatience kicks in.

2. Focus on Opportunity Costs

An opportunity cost is an option you sacrifice for another option. You have two or more options but choosing one would mean forsaking the others.  

For example, you’ve been working on a 6-month project that would give you a favorable income. You’re 2 months into the project. And then another legitimate opportunity comes — a project guaranteeing twice the income you’d get in 6 months and this one would take only 3 months.

Because of this other appealing option, it’s easy to feel impatient with the current option you have.

This is what happens when you focus on other options that seem to be more appealing than the option you have. You may be tempted to ditch the current option altogether or hasten it that you may jump to the greener pastures soon enough.

3. Pain

Pain is a form of stress. And it’s also one of the major reasons we experience impatience.

Whether it’s a disease, mental disturbance, injury, or another painful experience, when we think the pain is too much to bear, we feel impatient. It’s the reason why you might say, “I can’t wait to get out of this place/relationship/ experience.”

Pain is the reason people get impatient with their partners to the extent of divorce instead of dealing with matters peacefully. Pain is the reason we’d get impatient with a headache and run after the mightiest painkiller while a simple glass of water would ease the pain gradually. Pain is the reason we go for a drink to drown our problems instead of feeling and dealing with them soberly.

4. Instant Gratification

Also known as immediate gratification, instant gratification is the tendency to choose a short-term rewarding activity over a long-term, more beneficial activity. For example, a student may choose to watch a movie instead of studying for an exam because watching the movie is more rewarding now.

We all war with instantaneous gratification. We all from time to time desire to procrastinate on that important but quite boring thing so we can indulge in something entertaining right now. The difference among people is how often each gives in to immediate gratification temptations.

In the process of being tempted to gratify yourself instantly, you’ll experience impatience. Those who give in to instantaneous gratification more often experience less patience more.

5. Comparison

Humans are beings of reference. This means that we look towards others to make sense of how we’re doing or who we are. So comparison in itself isn’t bad. It’s only bad when we become impatient with ourselves because we compare ourselves when other people succeed in something we desire.

When you compare your looks, achievements, or other qualities to those of other people that you can measure your success, you tend to become impatient.

If you’ve reached a particular position on the corporate ladder, you find yourself feeling inferior because you took two years longer than Scott did. This might cause you to desire faster growth so you can stack up to Scott’s standards. And it brings anxiety to your career and overall life.

You can understand comparison as a cause for impatience more in Compare & Despair – Break The Cycle.

6. Fast-Paced Life

We live in a fast-paced world, civilization hurrying to a destination no one can fathom. This too has made us more impatient than our ancestors.

Now you can get an instant reply from someone in India while in the US yet it used to take months for letters to arrive. Moreover, a few strokes on your keyboard can take you to a parenting answer that could’ve taken you a long time to discover. Furthermore, fast foods contribute to hurrying our busy lives. 

Look around you. It all makes sense.

Therefore, the nature of this modern life is also a reason we experience impatience when things are happening to the contrary. This explains why we’re moving faster with cars but experience much impatience whenever just one car overtakes ours.

7. Denying Reality

Denying reality hurts our patience.

“I shouldn’t be getting this late,” “My partner shouldn’t ignore my feelings.” “I should have handled that situation calmly.” Can you feel the pressure swelling in?

Since with these statements you’re striving to deny the reality that you’re late, that your partner has ignored your feelings, and that you didn’t handle the situation calmly, you feel impatient. Instead of making you feel better, it makes matters worse.

8. Working Against Habit

Nothing challenges our patience like trying to do something you’re not used to doing. This happens to the tobacco addict trying to avoid smoking that usual cigarette.

Working Against Habit
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Whenever doing something that’s against our habits, we feel impatience because we’re desperately inclined to relapse to the usual habits. Therefore:

  • If you’re used to checking on your phone every 15 minutes, avoiding that would cause you little patience
  • If you love talking and commonly interrupt others when they’re speaking, waiting calmly to respond can cause you to fidget impatiently
  • If you’re not used to waiting in line, you become impatient when waiting in line

Think of something you’re used to doing. When you’re trying to not do that thing, what happens? I’ll guess the answer stays the same: you become impatient.

Related: Ways How To Stop Your Reactive Anger

9. Appealing Shortcuts

There are shortcuts to getting rich. There are shortcuts to gaining fame. There are shortcuts to going places. Some are good, some are bad but all shortcuts.

No matter their ethical stance, shortcuts make us impatient on the path we’re currently taking. As long as a shortcut looks appealing, you’ll feel desperate in the long process you’re following now. And this is what calls for patience especially when the shortcut isn’t worth taking in the long run.

10. Disorganization

When disorganized, it’s easy to get distracted and therefore, impatient in the tasks that need your focus. 

Since your goals are scattered in your mind, the costs of reaching the goals are underestimated. Therefore, the longer it takes to reach the goals and the limited information of the costs of reaching them can make you walk in desperate impatience.

All this is connected to the distracted nature of a disorganized mind. That’s why the first thing therapists and coaches do when you need help building patience is: clarifying your goals and the costs of reaching the goals. Then it becomes easier to identify the missing links between your actions, related factors, and the end goals.

11. Short Attention Span

In this fast-paced era we live in, attention spans have become more limited than before. There are more distractions today than one could imagine in the 15th century.

This has caused much impatience as evident when one waits seconds longer for a computer to power on or for low internet speed to load a query. 

But your level of attention span depends on your lifestyle. If you’ve been promoting a short attention span with your habits, you’ll probably develop heightened impatience. And it’ll spread to every area of your life. To deal with this problem, check out Effective Ways To Practice The Pause.

12. Hormonal Changes

Whether it’s estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone, imbalances in hormones happen due to unique biological processes. These can cause impatience.

Agitation during menstruation and menopause are some of the examples when impatience may happen due to biological changes in humans.

Therefore, before you start thinking of mental changes causing agitation in you, ask yourself, is something different happening to your body? Could it be the reason why you’re getting into more conflict?

13. Medical Conditions

ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and many other mental disorders can cause impatience. 

If you have these conditions, you’ll have little ability to manage your emotions and so getting impatient would be fairly normal. Also, while experiencing these conditions, the reality is distorted in your view which brings agitation.

In such situations, it’s important to deal with the root medical condition instead of working on the symptoms alone.

Related: Work-Life Balance Coach – Effective Interventions

How to Deal With Impatience – 13 Effective Treats

Here are ways you can cope with impatience to develop an enduring habit of patience.

Know what triggers impatience in you

What triggers your impatience isn’t what triggers that of another. Therefore, identifying your triggers helps you become aware of your behavior enough to harness self-control in certain situations testing your patience.

You can use the 5 Whys Technique to identify your triggers. It basically means you start with why you’re feeling impatient and when you get the immediate cause you go further and ask “why” which may give you the underlying mindset behind your reaction and as you progress further, you get to make more sense of this emotion for patience-building self-awareness.


When impatience kicks in, like when experiencing anxiety, you’ll take shallow breaths. This would signal your body to take a fight or flight response that may result in a panic attack, lashing out or other similar outbursts.

To pause such an effect, you need to take deep breaths. The deep breaths provide you the mental space you need to think productively before you act. 

You’ll immediately realize that even though such a situation makes you uneasy, it isn’t a life or death situation to run from or attack. The next thought would then revolve around, “How can I deal with this in the best strategy possible,” which is a great response by itself.

Talk of your feelings

This especially helps when dealing with a lack of patience around those closest to you. Instead of saying something rude because you’re feeling frustrated, you can say how you’re feeling so they can choose to respond amicably.

Acknowledging your feelings audibly not only helps you deal with them appropriately but also incites patience in the other person as you declare your weakness. This is one of the wisest applications of powerless communication.

Validate and correct

When feeling impatient, it’s easy to sharply talk about what someone isn’t doing right. 

Think of the boss knowing you’re not finished with the project while the deadline is fast approaching. Or the mother who can’t stand repeating the same thing to her son because he’s distracted by a video game.

But one smart way to tame your impatience is to validate the feelings or actions of someone and then explain what they should do and why they should do it. This is a friendly way of showing you understand why someone is behaving the way they do and explaining why they should follow a better way.

If you’re the boss, you can say something like, “Adassa, I get that you like doing things perfectly which is noble but it’s best to work on this project as efficiently as possible to make it by the deadline.” If you’re the mother you can tell your son, “I know that video game really makes you happy so how about concentrating during homework so you understand faster and get to play the video game?”

Remember, validate how they feel about an issue. Then correct.

Distract yourself to cool off

Feeling like you want to act out your restlessness? Distract yourself.

When stressed to impatience, you can take a walk, exercise, listen to music, watch a movie or do whatever works for you so you can calm down. But this doesn’t mean you should forget to deal with the issue at hand.

A distraction is for helping you put off a pressurizing issue until a time you’re calm enough to process it.

Make yourself wait

You don’t have to wait for anxiety episodes in order to train yourself to be patient. You can develop patience using simple daily exercises so you’d be more equipped when the test of patience comes.

You can do such things as letting another person pay for their shopping first in a grocery store queue. Instead of continuing with instant gratification, you can wait to watch the movie you’ve been craving a weekend later than planned. Practice waiting on the small things in life and this habit would extend to grander things.

Get help

Especially if you have chronic impatience, you can get help from a coach to build it. Perhaps it stems from a traumatic childhood, hormonal imbalances, or a lack of patience disorder.

And even if you simply want to stay accountable as you learn positive adaptive behavior, involve a professional. 

Impatience Causes and Treats Questions

Looking to understand deeper the reasons behind impatience and the strategies to make you a more patient person? Stay with me a little longer.

What is the root cause of impatience? The psychology behind impatience

As confirmed on Psychology Today, the root cause of impatience is the realization that it’ll cost us more than we thought to reach a particular goal. Whether in the form of time, money, comfort, or any other cost, the realization of a greater cost in any given situation creates impatience.

What does impatience say about a person?

Impatience in a person means they’re not willing to wait or they rush into doing things fast plus they expect the same of others. It could mean they have a short temper, attention span, or are simply unwilling to waste time on certain activities.

What causes extreme impatience?

Lack of sleep and hormonal changes can lead to extreme impatience but often, too much impatience for an extended period of time suggest that someone may have an underlying medical condition affecting their emotional balance.

What does it mean if someone is impatient?

Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels

When someone is an impatient person, it means they’re usually eager to finish doing things, to respond in conversations, and therefore feel discomfort when waiting for anything. Impatient people show signs of impatience in conversations when they interrupt often and act hastily in crises since they can’t be calm.

How do you get rid of impatience? How to cope with impatience

When your patience is tested:

  • Use deep breathing to calm yourself and create a blank mind state
  • Use mantras to remind you to stay patient
  • Focus on what the feeling of impatience does to your body to incite calm
  • Identify what triggers your lack of patience for more awareness and consciousness in action
  • Pause everything to think about how your actions affect the outcome
  • Choose another positive emotion to fall back on in the moment to lessen anger
  • Explain what you’d like to be done positively instead of stirring trouble by causing blame


Truly, patience is a virtue we all need to practice. 

Fortunately, understanding the reasons behind impatience helps you learn how to become more patient. Even better, with the accompanying tips for getting rid of impatience, you can build patience in your character for more satisfying relationships and overall life.

What causes impatience in your life most? Which tactic do you plan to use to build more patience? Comment your views below!

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.