How to Cope with Change, Part 3: Patience, Patience, Patience
With technology, instant satisfaction has become almost expected. When outcomes do not occur immediately, we often grow impatient and doubtful. Being aware of this phenomenon does not make you immune to it either. I know this stands true for me. I have to remind myself to be patient. I'm the type who identifies the goal, then I'm all in on achieving it as accurately and efficiently as I can. Patience is not one of my strong attributes; however, I'm working on it. Starting my business has really helped me exercise patience. This is not anything you can do quickly even if you have all the right stuff. I appreciate the lessons. My family has taught me so much in the way of patience with changing our eating habits. My youngest comes to mind for this one.
My youngest daughter is one of most joyous, confident, and head strong people I know. When we initially began our journey, we'd be riding along in the car and pass a fast food restaurant. She'd call out from her carseat, "Mom, can we eat...!" She would be so excited and cute. I would reply, "We don't eat..." She would hang her little head and pout, replying, "But I do." Really? Why do you have to be so cute. I let the conversation end there. I understood from where she was coming. Suddenly, our quick convenience lunch and dinners were out as options. She didn't understand. She liked chicken nuggets, so she understandably missed them. At the dinner table, she turned her face up. Where's the macaroni and cheese? She wanted peanut butter and jelly instead of what was on her plate. I continuously reiterated what we were eating and why. I probably made a mistake by calling it healthy. A dietician with whom I've worked, advised me to just call it food, not to call it healthy food. It made sense. So I used that piece of advice.
I took a different approach. I kind of backed off pushing the issues so much. I continued to present dinner. I continued to educate. I just stopped doing it in a big deal way. She evolved on her own time. Literally her broccoli eating evolution went as follows: "I like broccoli." However, she wouldn't eat it, even with pleasant or stern encouragement. Following that she went to "I like broccoli," except now she would try to eat it. She forced a smile and put it her mouth, still attempting to smile. Smiling and chewing, she would gag, but continue on as happily as she could. One day vividly, she was forcing herself to eat broccoli. She gagged the first time and quickly turned to me, saying, "That was a hiccup!" She kept chewing and gagged again, "That was a cough," she exclaimed. I had to turn away from her to keep from giggling in her face. The gesture was so endearing and sweet. She didn't want to offend me. Although, she was having an unpleasant experience, she was thinking about my feelings. Such a sweet pea. She was so committed. I was so proud of her. She now asks how many broccoli florets she has to eat. Eat one she puts in her mouth and proudly shows me. She's come such a long way.
By stepping back, taking a breath, and patiently going along with her on her personal journey, we were able to get there. I had to realize that I couldn't grab her hand and pull her along. I had to gently hold her hand and walk at her pace, not mine. When changing eating habits or any habit really, find YOUR comfortable pace. Personal decisions to eat healthier, for example, require that your move along at a pace that you can maintain. This is not a race. You cannot concern yourself with what the person next to you is doing, if that discourages you. Some people are motivated by competition. The point is to do you. Whatever that is.
There will be times where you are happy with your progress and times where you are discouraged about it and feel, perhaps, as if you're failing. It's all part of the journey. I've had my share of moments of feeling victorious and defeated in guiding my family to change eating habits. Eating healthier was a big change for us, not because we did not want to eat healthy, but because we had to change so many habits. There was no more eating fast food and ordering pizza for a quick dinner. We had to learn to find quick healthy dinners that we all could enjoy. There were no more boxes of snack cakes, boxes upon boxes of cereal, or toaster pastries in the pantry. There were no more packages of slice and bake cookies, bacon, or lunch meat in the fridge. Due to our oldest daughter's condition, we made a lot of changes quickly. Practically overnight. I had the unrealistic expectation that everyone would be onboard from the jump. I was highly motivated; however, we're talking about kids here. They don't even fully understand why or what is happening. For them, I'm sure it felt like out of nowhere, one day, they were no longer allowed to eat some of foods they enjoyed. Those foods were replaced by whole food options that they also enjoyed but did not eat as often because there were other tasty unhealthy foods around as well. Changing your diet suddenly is a lot to take in for someone who had no say in the decision. They needed time for it to become normal.
Allow yourself the time it takes for any change to become normal. Let me repeat. You really, really need to allow yourself the time it takes for you to accept any changes you want to make in your life. There will be a new normal, but it only becomes normal with time. How much time? That varies from person to person. For example, when deciding to eat healthier by eating more whole food, there will be times when you enjoy the new way of eating and times when it wears on you. Just take each obstacle as they come. No, you are not a failure if you have foods that are not "healthy". So what you ate a cookie, muffin, or candy. You had a treat or treats. It's no reason to give up. When changing habits, there's no "cheating". There's only the journey. Stay on it. Accept it. Have patience with it.
Always striving to help,