I saw a pic the other day that was timely. Two men stood quietly and patiently above an upset toddler in a shop. One is the father of the little girl, and the other the father of the father. The two of them were smiling lovingly at her, waiting her out - supporting her without needing to change anything. The dad said, "My dad always let me feel what I needed to feel, even if it was in public and embarrassing. I don't remember him ever saying "You're embarrassing me!" or "Dont cry!" It wasn't until recently that I realized how paramount that was for my own emotional development. Our children are learning and processing so much information and they don't know what to do with all of these new feelings that come up. I try to remember to make sure my daughter knows it's OK that she feels deeply."
It was timely because I'd just made up a new card for my Joyful Intentions: "Today I will be patient with myself," and it came up that day in my own Sunny Day reading. I stopped when I read it and thought about these two patient men. My efforts to stick with a healthy eating regime had been failing in the week or two before and I was feeling stressed and helpless about it. The card reminded me that despite my best efforts, life tends to cycle. I am more helpless at times than I like. Just like a crying child, I need patient support at times like these - support without a need for anything to be different.
I recall being patient with my own daughter when she was a toddler. It may have seemed easier for me to support her than it is to support myself. After all she was just a kid. I tend to expect more from myself. Yet before I can fully be patient with others, I may have to admit my own humanity. I may have to believe it's okay for me to feel helpless that I can't seem to stick with the program. It's okay to feel embarrassed when I put my foot in my mouth, or when I fail to hear what someone is saying. It's okay for me to feel afraid or overwhelmed or sad or disappointed.
Just like the toddler, I'm just a human being, being human. There are forces greater than me at work. When I can accept this and drop the struggle, I can accept my failures without feeling defeated and my successes without feeling triumphant. Without the added weight of self-impatience, I have more room to to catch my breath, to catch up with the cycles I'm in, and work with rather than against, that flow of energy. Some inner tension uncoils. The pressure eases.
Being patient with myself is a way to support who I am without needing myself or my life to be different.
The timely pic was here.
First published July 2017 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.