6.23.2013

Don't Take Your Struggles Out of Context

Context n. the general situation in which something happens, which helps to explain it.

I take my struggles out of context a bunch of the time. Isolate a moment of petty behavior, use it as evidence of my overall inadequacy. Overlook the stresses that culminated and resulted in me acting unpleasantly. It’s tempting to conclude, “I yelled at my kid—I’m a horrible mom.” Rather than thinking, “I’m not proud of how I just behaved—my patience must be eroding from {insert any of the following}:
taking care of a sick kid
being sick
spending too much time away from home
being at home too much
inadequate sleep
an impending period
not having time to restore thru rest or exercise
an unresolved argument
a big life change
etc.
Luckily I have a good friend who reminds me to view my struggles in the larger context of my day, or week, or month. She points out obstacles that have been demanding extra time and energy and I realize: Oh yeah, it’s no wonder I feel like screaming and drop kicking something…(or someone :).
I remember a particular note she sent when my daughter turned one, in which she listed all the roadblocks I’d overcome that year. Seeing them all together like that gave me a deep sense of accomplishment and a renewed sense of my abilities. It also allowed me to notice all the ways God walks with me, though I'm often blind to his blessings.
I’m not saying we should use context as an excuse (lest we slip into that limiting role of victim), but remembering context can serve as a compassionate lens. A chance to figure out how we got off balance, to gain insight into our behavior and avoid our habitual pitfalls the next time around. In her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach says: 
“Discouraging days bring with them golden opportunities when we can learn to be kind to ourselves.”
&
“Learning to love ourselves exactly as we are gives us the motivation to move forward.”
 Remembering context increases my self-acceptance, which allows me to move forward.

(P.S. In theory this should work with how I view Em's breakdowns, but try as I might to remind myself that she hadn't gotten a nap and was hungry, her marathon of a breakdown tonight still really got under my skin.)