Our nervous system isn't just a fiction, it's part of
our physical body, and our soul exists in space
and is inside us, like teeth in our mouth.
-- BORIS PASTERNAK
was driving on a freeway in unfamiliar territory in Southern California with my then mate. "I'm hungry," I declared. "I need to eat something." He pulled off the freeway, searching. We seemed to be trapped in tract housing land. No restaurants in sight.
Time passed; I got hungrier and hungrier. Still nothing. I started whining about not finding anything. Finally he spied a Safeway. "Let's try that," he said calmly. I walked into to the grocery store, aimlessly wandered the aisles. "There's nothing to eat," I wailed, and stormed out.
All the while I was acting like a lunatic, there was a part of me, my still-reasonable self, observing my behavior and thinking to myself: What is going on? It felt as if I had been hijacked by an alien.
Low Blood-Sugar Symptoms: Feeling Irritable, Irrational, Impatient
It was only months later that I was diagnosed with low blood sugar, which put the grocery store incident into to perspective. If your blood sugar drops too low, you feel irritable, irrational — and impatient. I now recognize the symptoms in others. It's pretty overt: normally reasonable human being suddenly becomes short-tempered, rationality hanging by a thread if not gone altogether.
Parents of small children know this intuitively — kids get cranky when they are hungry. That's why the time just before dinner is often when tempers are the most frayed and patience is the most strained.
I say this to remind you that, while most of the practices of patience are emotional or spiritual, there may be biochemical reasons for your impatience. Maybe you just need to eat.
Identifying the Timing and the Causes of Your Impatience
One way to tune in to this is to pay attention to when you lose your patience. Is it just before mealtimes? Do you seem to regain your equilibrium after eating? You may not feel hungry, even though your blood sugar is low, so it's better to look at the results (I feel more patient after I eat) than the symptoms (I'm hungry).
Take note for a week and see if you can discern a pattern. If the answer is yes, for you or someone you love, do what those suffering from low blood sugar do: keep high-protein snacks close at hand. Cheese sticks, nuts, the whites of hard-boiled eggs, or plain nonfat yogurt are all good options.
Keeping up your blood sugar is an easy way to make sure you are giving yourself biochemical help in keeping your emotional equilibrium. It's not fancy, but it sure is effective.
©2003, 2013. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
The Power of Patience: How This Old-Fashioned Virtue Can Improve Your Life
by M.J. Ryan.
About the Author
M.J. Ryan is one of the creators of the New York Times bestselling Random Acts of Kindness and the author of The Happiness Makeover, and Attitudes of Gratitude, among other titles. Altogether, there are 1.75 million copies of her titles in print. She is part of Professional Thinking Partners (PTP), an asset-focused consultancy whose expertise is in maximizing thinking and learning individually and in groups. She specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, and leadership teams around the world. A member of the International Coaching Federation, she is a contributing editor to Health.com and Good Housekeeping and has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, and hundreds of radio programs.