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Be patient, yes, but not to the point of losing self-respect


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Silvia Lucchetti - published on 09/24/22

Having the strength to wait brings us so many opportunities, but we need to have good judgment about when to be patient.
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How many opportunities have we missed because we didn’t have the strength to wait? Being patient is an emotional resource that helps us analyze situations more deeply, as we allow ourselves more time to observe and reflect. Psychologist Ana Maria Sepe discusses this on

Being patient, yes, but without a purpose

An important aspect of patience is knowing how to apply it in our relationships, in interacting with others, especially those closest to us.

The etymology of the term “patience” comes from the Latin verb patire, meaning that this virtue involves suffering, mainly mental suffering. This suffering cannot be an end in itself, but must find a valid motivation and a goal to be achieved, primarily in interpersonal relationships.  

When patience is mistaken for lack of character

We must therefore be very careful not to practice it indiscriminately, as a default action that is automatically and always practiced with every person and every type of subject. Unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of others’ nobility of spirit to pursue their own selfish goals, and exploit people’s willingness to be patient, seeing it as passivity and lack of character. Ana Maria Sepe emphasizes that we should not allow ourselves to practice patience to the point of losing our own integrity.


Everything, even the best things, must have a limit, which in this case is represented by healthy self-respect. Sepe invites us to reflect: “Is it worth having patience with those who don’t care about your feelings? Who knock you down psychologically? Who don’t recognize what you do for them? Who embarrass you? Belittle you? Take advantage of your goodness? Always want to be right?”

Why do you continue to put up with it?

Accepting continuous abuse without reacting can no longer be considered purpose-driven patience, but sterile passivity. What may be behind excessive forbearance that ends up being self-defeating? Frequently it’s a fear of rejection, a fear that others may judge us negatively as people, which is a sign of insufficient self-esteem. This opens us to the trap of seeking approval and recognition in any way possible, exposing us to the risk of being exploited and manipulated.


In the long run, this passivity will generate dissatisfaction and frustration, resulting in the development of aggression. When this aggression becomes self-directed, it sets the stage for depression; if outwardly directed, it will cause behavioral outbursts with destructive consequences for ourselves and the people around us.

Yes, be patient, but draw boundaries

If, therefore, it is right and proper to be patient, to try to reason with people while tolerating some initial rudeness or aggressive argumenting, it’s equally necessary to draw firm boundaries beyond which we could lose our self-respect. If we fail to maintain these limits, it will not only hurt the person who is being too patient, but also the other who is abusing that patience. Being left unchallenged and free to abuse will only reinforce the wrong attitudes and behaviors. 

Indeed, the psychologist says:

It is right to be patient, it is right to try to reason with people, but it is equally right to draw boundaries and sometimes even give up trying with someone, especially if a person is not open to listening. There’s no point in wasting valuable time with someone who does not put the same amount of effort into the relationship, whatever it may be. There’s no point in wasting time with someone who is not open to dialogue.

Learning respect

The limit of patience in relationships coincides with the real possibility that, in a time that is certainly not eternal, the other person may, with our help, become better and learn respect. Otherwise, we should apply the old saying: “Better alone than in bad company.”

Mental HealthRelationshipsVirtue
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