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The worrying pursuit of instant gratification; Adults reverting to children over lack of patience.

NO one likes waiting around - be it for a bus, at a checkout or a friend to turn up at a coffee shop.

But experts reckon the frantic pace of modern life has taken patience - or lack of - to a new level.

Waterford-based psychotherapist Mary O'Connor, inset, looks at the increasingly worrying pursuit of instant gratification.

The word patience has become almost obsolete, something that held importance but is a barrier in a world where we now have things on tap.

We are constantly stimulated, having the ability to receive instant gratification.

As I write this, I'm waiting for a message. It's been two hours since I sent my response. I'm starting to feel a little tense, and I've checked my phone excessively.

In psychological terms, the pleasure principle is powerful and compels people to gratify their needs, wants and urges.

Freud described how infants' behaviour is dominated by this as they want their biological needs met immediately without considering any consequences.

As adults, we intrinsically develop the reality principle, which is the counterpart to the pleasure principle.

According to Freud, the reality principle refers to awareness of the "real environment" and the need to accommodate choices and actions to live within society.

For example, if I buy this phone, I cannot pay my rent.

But it appears adults have now reverted back to this childlike state where we want to feel pleasure constantly without thinking of consequences.

These urges can be as basic as the need to breathe, eat or drink, but they can be more complex such as our desire for material needs or using a pill as an emotional anaesthetic.

This pleasure principle has been charged by the emergence of the digital realm. Instead of meeting people organically, we now swipe left or right to find our true love.

Instead of waiting for progress or learn a new skill, we resign to the fact we are not good at something. We want it all and not in six weeks, just now please.

So what are the implications for us individually and society? The grass always appears greener on the other side, and instead of communicating and working through issues with our partner, we start struggling with the fleeting pain. We want this The in our pain to be numbed so we look for an escape route. We look to dating apps as the answer or the nearest bar.

that important take to Sometimes our need for instant gratification is the nail in the coffin & rather than the issue that we avoided.

Our physical communication is hampered by our addiction to a technical device. We feel secure, almost protected, behind the emptiness of a screen.

When our gratification is delayed we start getting anxious.

We have gotten the two blue ticks on the Whatsapp text message, but we still didn't get a reply. We signed up to a diet programme but we look the same as last week so we give up.

The things in life which are important take time to cultivate and flourish.

I still haven't received a text. I can feel the physiological hangover that my over-eager response produced and I start to question myself. Then I receive a message: "Sorry I was busy and couldn't respond until now."

As a society, we are losing the ability to delay gratification. When I say I want it, I mean NOW.

Mary O'Connor is founder of Getting There Counselling Service.

The things in our lives that are important take time to cultivate & flourish


GETTING AHEAD People should work through their problems
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2019
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