Patience, Compassion and Fatherhood (part 3 of 5)
In the last blog post I suggested that being with other dads to discuss the challenges and stress of parenthood is the starting point for developing a more patient personality. One of the aspects of the father’s groups I do is that it allows the dads to hear how other dads are dealing with the same or similar issues. The advantage to this is it helps normalize the feelings for them. Dads have often commented that they were surprised to hear how so many men were experience the same thing! One dad even said “ even though we go through things in our own different ways…we all have to deal with the same situations.”
Developing patience means having a more intimate experience with your own feelings. And here is the next “key”… learning to “self sooth” helps us meet our challenges (and stresses) with a degree of comfort and calm and helps quite the anxious and driven voice so many men hear. The way to self sooth is to begin to create the voice of an accepting, encouraging “coach” in your own head…that means you “coach” yourself through the daily difficulties of fatherhood and parenting. When you are dead tired and your 9 month old has been crying for what seems like forever and won’t get to sleep….your “coach” voice says …”it’s going to be OK, other dads have gone through this, take a breat, have a glass of water you will just take it easy tomorrow, your going to make it through this, your going to be OK.”
Many years ago I saw the Dali Lama give a talk on compassion. He said if you wanted to be compassionate to other people you must first be compassionate with yourself. How critical and judgmental we can be to ourselves. By listening to the “good coach” within yourself you can start the practice of patience. All the challenges we face as dads, how complicated life can be when we have young children. Treating ourselves with this “good coach” voice who says, it’s OK to be frustrated, you lost your temper you will do better next time, you were rushing too much—next time you can take more time; little by little we will be more patience with ourselves….how much more comfortable in our skin we will be. Life is a burden or adventure…make it an adventure…coach yourself to accept your flaws, mistakes and know that with each act of acceptance the next time you can be more patient.