Personal Inventory on Patience, Sacrifice, Self Control, and Other Virtues

I often thought that if I took care of myself half as well as I took care of my child that I would be in pretty good shape. For example, I always make sure that he eats at least one serving of fruit for his morning snack at school and I work hard to get him into bed at a reasonable hour, even on weekends. I’m mindful of how much time he spends indoors versus outdoors and I remind him to balance his screen time with more creative activity. As for me, though, I hardly pay the same kind of attention to my own daily habits.

A few weeks ago, Fred officially began training for his black belt testing (in taekwondo). He was given a journal in which he is to track his daily and weekly activities such as running, doing push ups and sit ups, and practicing his forms and self defense techniques. In addition, he is to reflect weekly on how he has exhibited patience, sacrifice, self control, discipline, and punctuality.

While I definitely need to think about how much (or, more accurately, how little) exercise and fruit servings I am getting, this question on behavior piqued my interest. How often do I show those character traits or behaviors? I decided to try out the exercise for fun. This is my own reflection of the past week (√ marks what I did well and X shows otherwise):

√  With my clients…always
X  Showed exasperation when Fred started talking to me while I was working at my computer (repeated multiple times throughout the week).
X Showed exasperation when Fred didn’t move as quickly as I’d wanted him to (repeated multiple times).
√  Took an afternoon off of work to make dinner and cake for Max’s birthday
√  Took a morning off of work to help a friend with her business
√  Sang Fred to sleep because he still wanted me to 
√  Stayed up late several nights to respond to last minute client needs
Self Control
X  Ate too much red meat
X  Ate too much carbs
X  Popped a sleep aid 3x this week (before trying other options, like meditation), a consequence of the fact that I —
X  Stayed up late too many nights on my computer and
X Kept going to sleep past midnight
√  Got all my client work done during the week so I could take the weekend off
√  Went for a run (2x) with Fred and Max 
√  Made a schedule for my March reading and am keeping on track 
√  Cleaned our bathroom before it got gross
√  Returned/submitted all necessary forms, checks, emails, etc. for Fred’s school and activities
X  Fell behind in grocery shopping
√  Am up on time each morning to get Fred ready for school 
√  Was prompt responding to clients
X  Got meal on the table a little late on most of our taekwondo days, resulting in rushed eating and late arrival to class
X  Failed to respond to some emails from friends

I wrote out the “X”s not to be negative but as a way to see my patterns. Clearly I need to do a little better with the self control. It seems that the older I get, the more likely I am to want to please myself. While I am still a healthy eater overall, I’m less fanatical about it and I listen to my body more (I don’t know if that is good or bad). I keep to my 80/20 rule (80% healthy). This past week was a little off though, a sign of fatigue perhaps, or an unconscious attempt to reward myself for having worked hard for my clients.

And I need to work on patience, with my child. I always do a better job when I’ve had enough sleep. So it all goes back to self control.

What are your strong and weak points?

I wish that were my hand holding that fork. Image courtesy:

19 thoughts on “Personal Inventory on Patience, Sacrifice, Self Control, and Other Virtues

  1. I am bad at patience and self-control and good at discipline and punctuality. I don’t really even think about sacrifice. I am wondering, though, how you benefit from sort of trying to inventory so much of your existence. It’s good to try to improve ourselves, but aren’t you putting a lot of pressure on yourself by looking at so many things? Just something that I thought about while reading your entry. I would think it would be okay to try to improve yourself on one level at a time so that you’re not scrutinizing everything you do. Also, flipping how you look at things might help. For example, you could look at singing to your son as a pleasure instead of a sacrifice (unless you hate singing). 😉

    • It was really just something I wrote up quickly, after looking through my son’s black belt manual; I thought it would be a fun exercise to do just to see what I come up with if I were the one having to complete this exercise 😉 So I’m not looking at it as any kind of pressure. It did help to wake me up to things I might want to be more mindful of, since I feel as though I kind of move through a fog most days.

      Ah, the singing…yes, there’s more behind that. He gets to bed later than I would like on school nights (despite my nagging), and then he wants me to stay with him, sing, snuggle, etc. It pushes my bedtime back as well and then I get into the cycle where I stay up late to finish my work or read and then I have to pop a sleeping pill to fall asleep…I can be strict and just say, “I won’t sing to you unless you go to bed by xxx time” but a few times this week I gave in, thinking that my days singing to him are limited anyway.

      Sorry for the long response! 😉

    • It’s a lot, and I think the only time anyone does an exercise like this is when they are training for their black belts! 😉 I did it for fun, for the blog, but it did help me to pinpoint my trouble spots. So this morning I had cereal instead of a PBJ sandwich 😉

  2. Wow, Cecilia. I love your approach in trying to understand yourself better. Do you visit Gretchen Rubin’s website, The Happiness Project? She is working on a book about habits and talks about what prevents us from getting to the goals we want to achieve. Its made me think about my own habits and what I’d like to do better. As I get older, I am more prone to giving in to some of my vices. Sometimes it is little things that help you move forward, but I also realize that some of these habits may also contribute to my lack of progress in making wholesale changes. Thanks for sharing your struggles, Cecilia. (I am going to email you offline about a book and a survey that helped me rethink things).

    • Thanks, Rudri! I have heard so much about Gretchen Rubin and her books/site but I have yet to really look at them. I think I should do that. It looks like we are the same in terms of giving into our vices as we get older. I’ll look forward to your email! Thanks!

  3. I think the results of your experiment are pretty common. We’re all good at getting things done (on time) for other people (like your clients), but then fall short on ourselves and our families. But mostly ourselves. If we use most of our energy/patience/sacrifices at or for work/volunteering/other, there won’t be much left for the ones who we know love us unconditionally. I know my husband struggles with that everyday when he comes home from work. And I struggle with it when my children come home from school wanting to be fed, help with homework, drives to lessons, and I’ve already spent my day taking care of someone else’s child. I have come to the conclusion that there are two things for me that are key to helping with all this. One is to get enough sleep. The other is to not worry so much over preparing the perfect supper (for some reason I feel lot of pressure to prepare healthy, homemade meals every night), or have the house always look nice (it almost never looks the way it should!). One thing I need to work on is how to get the kids more involved in keeping the house looking tidy. The older they get, the more disgraceful it is that they don’t help out more. Sorry for the long ramble – I’m pretty sure I’m not even on topic anymore. 🙂

    • I’m sorry to be so late replying to your comment! I remember appreciating how you picked up on the pattern in my list and then extrapolated on that. Yes, we do prioritize meeting “outsiders'” needs first, don’t we…and I’ve been doing just that over the last couple of weeks and overwhelming myself. I like your two “rules” for yourself of getting enough sleep and loosening the pressure on yourself. I think that would go a long way. I agree with you about getting the kids more on board with cleaning the house. My mother did the lion’s share while I was growing up, and now as an adult I am struggling to keep my own house clean (where’s my mom?? ;-). I have to break the cycle by training myself and my son before it gets too late. Good luck with your kids as well!

  4. Controlling my stress is my #1 weakness lately. I am doing something about it this afternoon by interviewing for a new position – so need a change in my life because things are no longer in my control, including the stress at times due to be isolated, targeted, retaliated against – horrible the way some people treat other people – done with it – pulling up my girl panties and going for what I want!!! I know I create my own drama/stress/problems and put pressure on myself and that is when I do a reality self check and sometimes a family member or friends beats me to it and kicks me in the head – ha! I am learning to take time for myself and take care of myself, my needs and my whole being:) Wishing You the BEST Cecilia – Good Luck – Take Care – Happy Day:)

    • So sorry for this late response, Renee! Speaking of stress – I let it get the better of me these last two weeks and have missed some comments. Thanks so much for sharing here. I hear you on the stress management and the struggle to keep the internal noise and voices down. Must be hard when people around you are not helping any. But at least you’re aware of the triggers and you are making efforts to care for your own needs. I hope that your job interview went well also. Take care!!

  5. I know this wasn’t the point of your post, but tae kwon do sounds awesome! I want to sign H up when he’s old enough.

    And I do like the idea of a periodic check in/ self-inventory. 🙂

    • Taekwondo has changed my son’s life! We’d over pressured him in soccer (our big parenting mistake), and then one day he said, “Mommy, I want to try taekwondo.” He wasn’t a big team sports person and had a tendency to be shy and often said, “I’m nervous, I’m nervous.” He became absolutely passionate about taekwondo – somehow it fits his temperament and his body’s abilities – and I have not heard the words “I’m nervous” once ever in the last 3 years. I highly recommend it! I also find it the most diverse sport where we are – very diverse in terms of race/ethnicity, body types, ability, and age. Finding a good studio with supportive teachers helps a lot. I love that you want H to try it!

  6. I think I really need to work on self control. It’s funny. The older I’ve gotten, the less disciplined I’ve become. Now, with more children and more external constraints on my time and everything else, my eating habits, sleep, exercise have all become things I do when I can. I am more flexible now, which, I guess, in some ways, is a good thing. However, I think for certain things, things like healthy, for instance, it helps to be a bit more rigid, or not fully rigid, more like a rubbery kind of rigid. lol.

    • I agree, Jessica! It’s interesting that you mention motherhood as well. I think our schedules being turned upside down has a lot to do with it. And then there’s the fact that we prioritize our kids over ourselves. I definitely was a lot stricter with myself on diet and exercise when I was younger. It doesn’t make sense, since with a family to be responsible for my own health is more important than ever.

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s