Thursday, January 22

Child Shadow of Impatience (i)

Please read my brief introductory post, otherwise this might all sound too disjointed to be of interest/use.

Good to hear from y'all. Please note that my posts have nothing to do with Estes' book! lol But of course there is the Shadow connection. And YES, if you can, buy,borrow,steal, it. Absolutely brilliant stuff.
Also, the Shadow is used by countless psychoanalysts and others, and it's used in different ways. What the Shadow actually is and how to approach it is interpreted differently. Hence why I refer to my verison as the Child Shadow.

Time goes, you say? Ah, no! alas, time stays, we go.
Henry Austin Dobson

"The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it, and habit fills up what remains."
In Search of Lost Time, Vol II: Within a Budding Grove, Marcel Proust


The Impatience Shadow is created in a certain environment. Perhaps you had parents who were always rushed or rushing. Or who always hurried you up. Or were impatient themselves, with you or each other or other people. Or sometimes it's just the environment your parents lived in, such as rushed jobs or community obligations, or constant deadlines to meet, to which you were witness.

Another way is to be severely restricted from activities while being aware of it. Such as, a sickly child who misses out on the sibling's activities, or strict parents who exclude the child from their own activities or from those of the neigbourhood kids. It can sometimes even be formed from very slow or apathetic families, where the child sees lots happening 'out there'. One woman I worked with suffered from several childhood illness that had her in and out of hospital until she was about 12.Either way, the child feels they are forever missing out, and then believes that they are losing or have lost time.

Everyone has their own unique situation.

Whatever the circumstances, there is so much rushing that the child learns that rushing is necessary to life. Or, that time is against us, or that it's limited or can be lost. As you can see, this is now a thing of anxiety. Somehow or other, rushing/restriction becomes associated with fear. So that soon, it forms into a Fear.

Our modern societies are so geared into doing things as soon as yesterday, and living by the clock, that I can't imagine most of us not having a streak of impatience within us. And a type of impatience that comes with youth is also normal. However, for it to become a Shadow, it is a Fear that was formed from an environment where impatience/rushing/restriction was the norm.

A small child cannot intellectualise any of this of course. But a child senses it all. They will sense your own fear of 'not making it in time', of, 'wasting precious time', and so on. They see and feel the urgency and fast pace.

Children do not understand our concept of time, and yet we insist on telling them to 'hurry up', or that, 'we'll miss the bus if we don't rush', or that we haven't the time to do X because we need to get Y done. We make these requests, but they don't have a clue what we mean. Yet they will internalise the feeling they get when we say them, or when we do the rushing around to complete tasks, or the fidgeting and tsk-tsking while we wait in a queue. Say and do these things enough times, and the emotions become part of the child's internal world. And such is how Fears are formed.

So a child learns that associations to time (such as rushing) are very important in life. The instinct is, 'I need to cope and to survive'. So the child's subconscious starts to make sense of what it's learning and to form coping and survival strategies.

As they grow up, the child will inevitably find himself in situations where time is 'lost'. They will be unskilled in a task such as tying their shoelaces. They will become anything from disconcerted to very anxious. Afterall, they are wasting precious time.

Additionally, a child that learns to rush, will end up creating further situations for the Fear to grow, because we all know that rushing causes us to falter and make mistakes. So we have to do it again only to lose more time!

As you can see, daily life will present many opportunities for the child to 'waste time'. And each incident will create anxiety, that is the food of the Fear. Every time we are anxious about losing time, we are of course feeding the belief that we can lose time and that this is a very bad thing.

Very soon, time becomes an enemy. The child is a victim to time. And in this way, the beautiful childish ability to be totally present in the Now, is lost. Because all that matters is the future, the future towards which we are trying to rush.

So the first step is Shadow recognition. The second is acceptance. Recognising that we might own this paticular Shadow, and recognising how it was formed. Knowing this helps us see it for what it is. Not some horrible thing to cast off, to hate, or to be ashamed of, but to appreciate that without it we would not have survived emotionally and psychologically.

Accepting the Shadow might seem easy at first, but it can be a long process. If there is any shame or guilt or such, it can take time to learn to love it as a part of us, A part that helped us cope with what life threw at us.

part ii to come....

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  1. thank you. that was great.

  2. Oh yes. I've actually been aware of this one for some time. I certainly have this shadow, but I fear I have also given it to my child. Since she was 13 months old (when I went back to work and she went into childcare) I have frequently rushed, and have rushed her around places.
    I've often resisted it, and very often resented it. I feel awful about it, and try to slow everything down as much as possible.

    It's so much easier to own the darkness in our own psyches, than the ones we are authors to in our children.

  3. Eh, I don't know if I have this shadow child myself, but I am certainly perpetrating it on my children. Mostly when I'm tired, or not getting my own needs met. NVC helps with that, though I've forgotten to use it lately. And because my son has asthma, he can't always do what he wants to do, which I never realized would contribute to the sense of lost time. He's also been sensitive lately to our decisions on media consumption and toy choices that somewhat alienate him from other kids. Still keeping to those decisions, but it's good to be aware of what may result.

  4. All very interesting!

    Anthromama - the occassional tiredness etc, wouldn't be enough. However, your son's situation might. But if he felt that he was able to have other things/do other things, that would balance it. Afterall, being indoors or not so active opens up a whole different world, no? Perhaps instead of an approach of, 'you cant do x', with, 'guess what you CAN do that most kids can't?!'

  5. Just got around to reading this, have been looking forward to this shadow series...I do see this one in myself a bit, but think there are other shadows probably more predominant in me. This is definitely my DH though. To me it seems like a fear of chaos type thing, a compulsion to feel very much in control to keep the chaos out. Imposing a 'clock' and trying to stick to it, even when there isn't any external 'reason' to, helps him feel in control. It is like an addiction (I guess all the shadows are...)

  6. Hi mommymystic. Yes, when we control our environment (or believe we do) we feel safer. And that's what it's all about. When we fear, we need to find a way to feel safer.
    It's not so much a fear of chaos at the core, but yes, chaos, or out-of-control time happening on its own, is chaotic, to this Shadow. And then, well, anything could happen, such as time slipping away.

    stay tuned......


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