One of my ongoing goals is improving my patience.
We all have little things that set us off, and they do not always make sense to others, but feel completely rational to us.
My “little thing” lately is putting socks and shoes on my 5-year-old. I can’t seem to handle it.
It begins with a joyful mood–We are going somewhere! Yay! Let’s get ready!
So we all begin the process of getting ready. We are almost done, all we need are shoes.
Then I hear it. A low-level grumble that transitions to a high-pitched “Ahhhhhh!”
I feel my shoulders tighten. I try to breathe, but I think I know where we are heading.
My daughter hates all socks. They never feel good to her. She puts them on and then begins the roar/yell/kick sequence.
Every time I start out calm, cool, and collected. I ask my daughter, “Would you like help?”
“Why don’t you wear sandals? Then you don’t have to wear socks at all!” (I fake enthusiasm at this fact).
My daughter then shouts, “NO! I WANT TO WEAR SHOES!”
I can feel myself becoming frustrated, and it’s starting to show.
I tell her that I am going to walk away so I don’t get mad. I say, “I do not care what you put on your feet, just please get ready.”
Only moments later, I hear from the living room, “MOOOMMMYYYY!! HEEELLPP MEEEE!”
I lose my cool. I storm out of the bedroom and tell her that I offered help and she didn’t want it.
My husband and son completely held it together. They informed my daughter and I that they were leaving and would pick us up later.
It does not matter if I run or do yoga that morning. This sequence of events gets me every time.
My overall patience as a human is getting better. I have worked on it a lot in the last 5 years.
But it is still one of my biggest areas for improvement.
While searching for an answer to our sock fiasco, it hit me.
I now realize the problem is not the socks or my daughter or even the moment I lose my cool.
The problem is the moment when my shoulders tighten. At that moment, I have already decided this situation will be exactly like the others. I am predicting both our behaviors and setting us up for failure.
I can say I am staying calm, but I have already played out the escalation in my head.
So what if I took my husband’s approach: Just sit next to her. Say nothing. Let her sort it out in her head. She doesn’t need my questions and input.
I do not like it when people assume who I am or how I will react. So why do it to her?
I need to give my daughter a chance to have her feelings and reactions without bringing in my assumptions.
So my goal going forward is to avoid this sequence of events. Sit next to my daughter and wait for my cue.
It will not be easy, but it is important. And to me, real patience comes when I stop assuming outcomes.
About the Author: Brittany is a wife and mother of two. Through having less and doing less she continually finds more. Find her at Lesslessmore.com