Learning to Adapt

As some of you may know, I had planned to do a full series on the Stages of Change model.  I started it, and as it turns out, it wasn’t really that interesting.  I know this because there were only two readers for three posts.  For all I know, it could have been the same reader.  Therefore, I have decided to move on.  One of the major tenets of my coaching philosophy is that our goals may change and that we have to learn to adapt.  Ok, so maybe that really counts as two tenets, but they do fit together quite nicely.  In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I offer you a completely unrelated post.

A reoccurring theme in my life is that of learning.  And thank goodness for that because in my personal philosophy I believe that we cease to live when we stop learning.  The thing that is so incredible about this theme is the sheer amount of that which I am learning.  When I stop to think about everything I have learned over the past several years, I can’t believe there is really any room left in my brain for it all.  I am learning how to be a wife, a mother, and a business woman.  I am also learning how to garden on a rather large-scale.  My knowledge of food preservation is also growing a great deal.  I am also spending some time getting to know myself even more because the roles I play in my life have changed drastically over the past four years.  It is simply amazing how much there is to learn and how much I wish to learn.

The interesting bit about learning is that it is not always experienced in the same way.  For instance, today, as I reflect on my learning journey, I feel excited and energized by my experience.  However, on the days my son is learning how to exert his independence by exploring all the drawers in my home, I feel frustrated by my experience of learning to teach him restraint.  It is a pretty broad spectrum of emotion that is experienced on the learning journey, but entirely necessary.  It is how we respond to these emotions that really shapes the learning experience.  I have found that it all really comes back to being patient.  I have chosen to do a number of things with my life that require a great deal of patience: motherhood, entrepreneurship, and homesteading.  I don’t think I have ever had to exercise this amount of patience at any other point in my life.

Some days when I am learning, I have minor meltdowns.  Admit it, you do too.  Those moments where words start flying out of your mouth that you seem to have little to no control over.  They are almost beings in their own right.    Hopefully, you have learned how to allow those meltdowns to only occur in the privacy of your own home, if not, I encourage you to find someone who can help you with that.  Also, if you have children, you may also need to learn how to stifle them until they are in bed, or at a friend’s house.  As we know, meltdowns are OK and forgivable, but not a really useful or productive means to dealing with life.  These moments of meltdown are when we need to lean on our partners and learn as a team rather than an individual.  For those of the sporting persuasion, I see learning more as a game of football than the 100 meter hurdles.

The experience of learning is as important as the specific skill you are developing.    That is a piece many of us forget.  It is so easy to forget because you are trying so damn hard to figure out how to teach your toddler not to throw food all over the flippin’ dining room…  That’s when you stop, and have a laugh with your partner about how silly it is to get frustrated over something so normal.  Most everything comes with time and it is important to enjoy the process of learning and growing.  In my life I am learning many new skills, but I am also learning lessons that just help me to become a better person, and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

Take a moment to think about a skill that you have acquired or improved recently.  What were the highs and lows?  Did you learn something about yourself in addition to the skill?  Share a bit of that story with us…we might all learn something 🙂

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Anxiety and Fluffy Bunnies

I cannot think of any person that has ever reached a goal without some form of partnership along the way.  Partnership is an essential piece of everyday life and nothing would happen without it.  I grew up in a small, rural community on a cattle ranch and learned the value and necessity of partnership at a very young age.  My community would never have survived if it were not for the way that people would pitch in to make sure that their neighbors had what the needed.

Partnership is reciprocal and symbiotic.  It is not simply one person helping another, but each member of the partnership providing something beneficial to the other.

Now that we are through the fluffy bunny portion of my post, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Partnership is TOUGH.  Even the sweetest, most easy-going person in the world has odd little quirks and eccentricities that can get under a person’s skin.  The trick to a good partnership is being able to accept these quirks and eccentricities, while understanding that we have them too and working to improve on those that are detrimental to the process of partnership.

The main partnership in my life is that with my husband who is also the father of our child.  There is A LOT of give-and-take that happens in our partnership on a day-to-day basis, and we both realize this.  However, we both have aspects of our personality that clash, and they can clash hard.

My husband can be an anxious person.  I try to be sensitive to this, but sometimes my “pull-yourself-up-by-your-boostraps” self comes screaming to the surface and I am not as helpful or caring as I should be.  When he is having anxiety and having a hard time getting things done because of that, it can be very easy to fall into a space of, “I need you to be X,Y, or Z for me right now” rather than thinking of ways to alleviate his stress.  This is the point where any partnership will begin to suffer: it’s the “I-don’t-care-how-you-are-feeling-focus-on-me” point.

Everyone can benefit from learning to cultivate the skill that allows us to recognize when the other person needs more from us than we do from them.  Sure, my husband being anxious about something I feel is no big deal can be frustrating, but his emotional state is very real and can have long-term effects on his well-being.  Instead of viewing my husband’s anxiety as slowing down a plan I have made, I can consciously choose to view it as an opportunity for our partnership to grow.  Instead of becoming frustrated, I can ask, “what do you need from me?”

When faced with a problem in a partnership, the only person we can control is ourselves.  I cannot make my husband stop being anxious.  That is a skill he will have to learn and master for himself.  However, I can control my response to his behaviors.  If I am not the support he needs when he needs it most (and vice versa), we no longer having a functioning partnership.

Goals and dreams will remain unfulfilled if we do not have the support of others, but we also have to remember that our supports need us as well.

Do you have a frustration in a partnership that you are unsure how to handle?