Tolerating Yourself

My airpods are lost about 25% of the time. Most recently, their periods of lostness coincided with business travel trips where I really, really wanted them. The convenience of having them for hotel workout rooms thwarted by my inability to keep track of them. 

Misplacing things is one of my special abilities that frustrates me to no end. And I cannot seem to fundamentally change this about myself. I still think of a favorite jacket that I left on an airplane, a necklace that I loved that I haven’t been able to find for about three months, and I pine for an article I wrote that I was really proud of but has disappeared in the jungle of haphazard folders on my laptop. 

I can choose to really hate this about myself or I can adopt a kinder, more amused approach. It’s not always an easy choice to make, but today I crank myself into a pivot towards self-compassion and allow the hard knot of frustration in my gut to loosen. I even visualize myself as God must see me, “poor thing, so wound up about something so small…” I imagine, and I take a big breath and adapt. 

My airpods will likely return to me some day and it will feel a little like Christmas and a little like a practical joke. They will be in an unchecked pocket, tumble out of my laundry (they have survived a couple of trips through already!), or they’ll show up in a bag I forgot I used recently. I’ll be relieved and I’ll recommit to never, ever leaving them in the place I left them. I’ll swear that I won’t make the mistake again…but, inevitably, I will.

Today, I’m tethered to my phone as I listen to my audiobook, looking dated and feeling a bit chagrined. But I’m able to rejoice that I am delightfully human; well-loved and evolving. Jesus will keep seeing me and loving me in the moments when I’m so angry with myself that I could scream. Hopefully, I’ll heed the invitation to slow down, pivot and have patience with myself. 

And growing that ability—the capacity to tolerate my imperfections with increasing patience—feels more important than growing out of my tendency to lose things.  


In what way do you need to be more tolerant of yourself?

2 Responses

  1. Love this Janice. And boy, can I relate. I am the same way and my coping and joking about it sounds like this “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached.” I too walk away and leave my stuff, put things down in the wrong spot, etc. Thank god for the iwatch – I can ping my phone and save myself hundreds of hours searching for it. Thanks for reminding me not to take myself too seriously haha.

  2. Hello Janice (Professor McWilliams),

    I was in this exact situation this past two months with my AirPods. So angry with myself for being so forgetful and thinking of all the many precious possessions I have lost – some in other countries. I take so much comfort in knowing that I’m not the only adult who struggles to find things in my own home. I really needed this message today and I’m so grateful I stumbled upon it.

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