Patience Matters: A Journey to Living with More Calm + Compassion
Updated: Nov 13, 2018
Do you struggle with intensity, overwhelm, and over-reactivity in difficult situations? Do you find yourself feeling guilty, and maybe even shameful, about your angry over-reactions? In this post, Kelly draws on her personal and professional experience with patience (or lack thereof!) and invites readers on a journey to cultivate more calm, resilience, and compassion in the face of challenging experiences.
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
— Lao Tzu
I have been on a journey to patience and inner calm for . . . well, let’s just say a long time. Patience does not come to me naturally, or easily. When the universe was handing out patience, I was in the line-ups for intense feelings, high standards, and over-thinking. (I seem to have missed some other lines, too, but will save those for another time!)
In addition to this patience oversight, I come from a long line of hot-headed Italians — hot-headed and stubborn, to be exact. And would you believe that the name Kelly actually means: War. Lively. Aggressive? Sheesh. It seems I was set up for impatience and unrest from the get-go.
As you might expect given the temperament cards I was dealt, patience was not my strong suit as a parent. In fact, in my book, Reinventing Mom, I recount several stories of impatience and frustration with my kids — angry over-reactions mostly to things that did not go according to my expectations, that I did not have the skills to effectively manage, and/or that I was too emotionally exhausted to deal with.
While I certainly transformed my life in many wonderful ways with the practices in my book, I only seemed to scratch the surface of patience.
My patience journey took a turn shortly after the release of my book when I was leading a Reinventing Mom Circle, a kind of book-club-meets-support-group for fellow Moms. A few weeks into our meetings, the topic of patience came up when we got to one of my impatience stories.
Here’s the gist of the story from the book: following a stressful family vacation years earlier when my kids were young, I found myself at the end of my rope. Apparently I had lost my cool one too many times and my very sweet, highly sensitive daughter had a fearful response to my angry over-reactions. It was a poignant experience that prompted me to do better in the patience department.
The experience also resonated deeply with the members of our group. Several Moms broke down in tears and admitted that they were sorely lacking in the patience department. And felt incredibly guilty about it. Many also felt a sense of shame for not doing better for their children.
Welcome to the club.
Unfortunately, there I was all those years later and my patience department was far from thriving. Even worse, as a parent I consider myself the manager/trainer of the patience department, so when I saw my “trainees” (aka, my kids) over-reacting and dealing with conflict and frustration in ineffective ways, I knew there was work to be done.
I also knew that the Moms in the book group and I were not alone. Patience is on the endangered species list when it comes to life skills these days. We live in a fast-paced, on-demand society that has come to expect speed and efficiency in much of our daily lives. As a result, we have suffered a great loss of tolerance for frustrations and snags that don’t meet our personal needs and expectations . . .
Non-cooperation from our 4-year-old at bedtime. Disrespect from our teen — again. Bickering at the dinner table. Communication issues with our spouse. Ongoing disagreements with our ex. An unreasonable boss. Incompetent drivers . . .
It's so easy to react and over-react to all of the frustrations and annoyances around us. Unfortunately, it’s also very easy over time to get stuck in a chronic, unhealthy state of anger and frustration — a state that doesn't benefit anyone.
It was clear to me that we could all do better in the patience department.
I decided to turn my patience journey into a more formal endeavor. For the last several years I have researched the underpinnings of anger and impatience, as well as the practices that cultivate patience and inner calm. And I have tested them all. (Much to the chagrin of my family, I might add!) I've learned what works, what doesn't work, and the simple truth of what happens when things fall apart.
After all this research, insight, and practice, am I a master of patience? Um, no. But if you consider the cultivation of patience and inner calm as a climb up a mountain, I have managed to make it quite a way up. The purpose of Patience Matters is to encourage and support those who want to begin the journey to more patience, as well as guide those who are already struggling on their way up the mountain.
I've learned what works, what doesn't work, and the simple truth of what happens when things fall apart.
Over the course of this blog, we’ll be exploring issues related to understanding intensity and anger and what causes us to lose our cool, developing patience and compassion through mindfulness-based practices, managing conflict in healthy ways, and cultivating more inner calm — even in the midst of chaos.
The world needs far less judgment, intolerance, and over-reactivity, and far greater compassion, acceptance, and calm. Patience matters. And it begins with each of us.
This is the journey to living, loving, and leading with more patience and inner calm — for ourselves, for our families and relationships, and most importantly, for our children. Join me, won’t you?
About Kelly Pryde
Kelly is a neuropsychologist, coach, and mindfulness teacher who specializes in helping people of all ages transform intensity and overwhelm into calm and resilience. She offers mindfulness-based coaching and training to people around the world on issues related to giftedness, parenting and conflict. She currently lives in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada.