I’ve heard over the years that “patience is a virtue and to have it is a gift”. Well it’s not a gift I have, but it’s something I try to practice. Patience is a simple concept; take your time, give others time and be tolerant of others. I’ve found it’s just not as easy as all that. I am not a naturally patient person; anyone who knows me well enough can tell you that my facial expressions and sarcasm will let you know when I’ve met my very small threshold for patience. It is however, something I encourage my clients to practice. I tell them often to be patient with themselves, to live with grace not prefection, and to allow others the room to make mistakes without too harsh of consequences.
I had a client ask me once a few years back why I constantly “preached” patience to him as he worked to adjust to a major life change. My answer was simple; we are too hard on ourselves. We set our expectations too high and then we are quick to “should” all over ourselves when we didn’t achieve an unattainable goal. Come on…did you really think losing 20lbs in the three weeks before your brother’s wedding was realistic? Was your maternity leave to do list really going to get completed? Were you really going to “change” your toxic Mother, boyfriend or childhood best friend?
When we don’t accomplish the unrealistic, unattainable goals we begin the process of “shoulding on ourselves”. That is not a typo…I mean shoulding. I have heard too many times people beating themselves up with comments much like these; “I shouldn’t have done that”,or “I should have known better!” I have thought every time I’ve heard this how can anyone know everything? How can we be responsible for something not working out as planned? Especially when we set the bar so very high.
Our culture and society promotes “being prefect” or “hustling everyday”. Well what if I can’t hustle everyday or being prefect is just too far from our grasp! (No one is prefect, by the way! If they tell you they are…run away!) Does all of this mean we don’t strive to better ourselves? That we can’t set realistic goals? Of course not; I spend most my days helping people set attainable goals, ones they can and will achieve.
The key to success is low expectations. Are your expectations low? Go lower! Lower…lower…lower, there you go! My guess is that each of you expect too much from yourself and from others. You expect that every step should go as planned…if you work hard enough, pray enough or simple just do the right things it will all work out. I’m sorry, it won’t. Sometimes starting small and slow is the the answer. Want to lose 20lbs? Try by starting to lose 5lbs. Want to finish your degree? Start with one class. Need to clean out your closet? Start one inch at a time. Process is progress. Patience will take you far. Build up from your starting point, you can and will go far. These small steps from a realistic starting point will move you along in the right direction. Be patient with yourself as you grow and heal. Give yourself the same grace you probably already give others. Allow yourself the time to work it all out. Be patient and trust the process.