Before and after my child came into the world, my husband and I were inundated with advice from parents. Here’s the best way to sleep train, one would say. Baby led weaning instead of purees is best, another would say. Naturally, we ended up accepting some advice, disregarding others and creating our own ways of parenting that worked best for our family. There is, however, one piece of advice that has withstood the test of time and helped us immensely. A friend said, “Whenever you’re scared or confused by what your baby is doing, just wait a week.” I would recall that piece of sage wisdom whenever my son was going through a period of foregoing naps, of being really fussy or of suddenly hating all kinds of food. His patterns and behaviors were constantly changing so I didn’t need to get hung up on anything but just let it pass and let him settle into a new rhythm of being.
Little did I know that I would be comforted by reciting those very same words to myself. In many ways, even we adults are like babies and toddlers in that our moods are constantly shifting depending on our circumstances like how much sleep we’ve gotten, how busy we are at work, or just a hormonal shift going on in our bodies. Those words to just “wait a week” have prevented me from making many a rash decisions because most times, I would feel completely differently about the same issue just seven days later.
A few months ago, I will confess that I went through a week of struggling immensely with my job and wanting to leave it. There were a couple of situations that overwhelmed and intimidated me and I just wanted to escape. But after a week of some good self-care such as prioritizing sleep, making positive connections with the staff, and reading a terrific book on letting go of people-pleasing, my attitude had a 180 degree shift by the following week.
So here’s my advice for those who are struggling right now in whatever way: you want to leave your job, you want to leave your spouse, you hate the way you look, you want to quit school or even something more minor like you really want a pair of shoes that are outside your current budget. Before making any decisions or taking action, just wait a week. I assure you that your emotions about those situations will be different. New and creative solutions might even emerge within that week.
If they don’t change, if the strong negative emotions stay with you consistently for over two weeks, then, at that point, see it as an invitation to explore how to change either your circumstances or your feelings about your circumstances by asking yourself the following questions:
What is it precisely about this situation that makes me ___________ (Fill in the blank. Angry, want to quit, want it so badly, etc.).
Is there any way I can take responsibility and address those concerns now by changing something? Even something minor?
If there isn’t anything I can do to change my circumstances, what are the steps I can take to eventually change my circumstances in time?