Written as part of the #DailyWritingChallenge on Twitter
I like to think that I’m quite an empathetic person, that I try to understand what a person is going through and to be patient enough to give them time if they need it. There’s one person though that I’ve never been particularly patient with… myself.
I’ve always wanted to be the best that I possibly can be and to want that straight away. I don’t give myself any time to improve at a task or skill… I just expect myself to be able to do it immediately.
This lack of patience with myself has come to the forefront particularly at times when I’ve struggled with issues such as bereavement or anxiety/depression.
When my Dad died, I kept comparing myself to other members of school staff who had lost parents. The headteacher and SLT at the school were incredibly understanding and knew I needed a bit more time. It was me that didn’t get it- “_______ was back a few days after their ____’s funeral and able to work so why can’t I stop bursting into tears? I’m so ridiculous!!”
I kept trying to put a time limit on my grief. “It’s been a week now, why am I not over it?” “It’s a New Year now and I should feel better. Why don’t I feel better?” I went on for a few years really fighting my grief and not allowing myself to just feel what I was feeling. It was only when, during a period of counselling, I allowed myself to take my time and work through it at my own pace that I started to really feel any better.
Until this point, I didn’t give myself the patience that I would have given to someone else… and by doing so I didn’t give myself the chance to really engage with my feelings. Why is that? Why did I try to live up to some mythical standard of “coping” that I couldn’t attain?
Unfortunately I don’t have an answer. All I know is that we often can be a lot more kind and patient with other people than we are with ourselves.
This idea of being patient with ourselves seems to me to be especially pertinent at the moment. We need to allow ourselves the space and time to process what we are going through. We need the patience to accept that others may seem as though they are coping better (who knows on the inside) but we are doing this at our own rate… and if we need support and help we can ask for this.
None of what we are going through right now is easy. We just need to have a little patience with ourselves.