A Hurried Child

A Hurried Child

Wow! I just had a coaching session with Eva Sim-Zabka, and in under 10 minutes she got to the core of my complaint: “Everything takes too long!”

As a child I was called “slow as molasses,” particularly when it came to getting into the car.

In our family of 6, I was “always” the last one. It happened at the dinner table, too. After everyone was done eating and the dishes had been cleared, I would still be finishing my meal. So of course I was teased about being “slow, just like your Grandpa.” I actually took pride in being like my Grandpa because I loved his easy manner, but the criticism wasn’t missed.

When Eva said what she saw to me, “You were slow, and that was wrong,” my eyes filled with tears. She nailed it. Who I was was wrong.

As she helped me explore that thought without trying to fix it, I slowly began to see that slow wasn’t wrong and therefore I wasn’t wrong, I just thought so. That kind of belief is hard to see on your own, because it’s invisible. It just seems true. But in reality, slow is just slow and fast is just fast.  Although you might like one more than the other, neither is right or wrong.

I remembered another important moment in my youth that related to that judgment.

I was at my desk working on my math homework, fully engrossed, oblivious of time, and happy as a clam. (Yes, I’ve always been a bit of a nerd). That places it in Jr. High, because when I was a kid, homework didn’t start until 7th grade. My dad walked in and with concern in his voice said, “You know, you won’t always have as much time as you want to finish things.” That one phrase, as well-intentioned as it was, shattered my world. I thought I was safe doing homework; I mean, come on, who criticizes a kid for taking time with math? And pow! There it was—I was wrong again!

A phrase my mentor Dr. Landreth used, “the hurried child” came to mind. Whether or not it was in reference to the David Elkind book about kids growing up too fast too soon, hurrying a child sounded like an awful thing to do. Eva picked up on that immediately and put it together for me. She said, “You were supposed to like hurrying.”

I burst out laughing! That was so true and at the same time so completely ridiculous. Here I’d been spending my whole life trying to like hurrying. I WILL NEVER LIKE HURRYING OR BEING HURRIED!!!

That was the breakthrough moment!

To explain: In the child’s black and white world, if slow is wrong then quick has to be right. You can’t like wrong things because they are “bad.” Likewise you should like right things because they are “good.” However, as a slow person, the only way to be “quick” was to hurry. So while my dad was trying to encourage me to find ways to work more quickly, all I heard was, “You need to hurry!” Particularly for a thorough perfectionist, hurrying is exhausting, fraught with error, and basically no fun… and I was supposed to like THAT!

Here’s the math nerd version of the breakthrough process: a wrong belief is basically a real-world childhood experience collapsed with a concept. In my case, “hurrying = quick.” As a child, you know what the experience is (hurrying), but you have no idea what the concept is (quick) so you stick it onto something you do know—an experience (hurrying). Validating that you think the two are the same leads to a breakthrough that pops the two apart and gives you the chance to redefine the concept from an adult perspective.

So that’s where I am now. Redefining quick, and for that matter slow, as options—neither right or wrong. They both have value. So in my work I’ve decided that what I want to do is to take my time developing training materials and, when they are released, get quick results. It’s the best of both worlds!

Thank you Eva! You definitely were quick, and I did not feel hurried!!!

What are your thoughts and experiences of quick, slow, and hurried?



  1. I love this dialoge about being hurried, I hate being hurried, I think that may be why one reason I am chronically late. Although when I am not pressured, I am more on time. Hmm

    • Michelle, great observation and wonderful proof that you really do hate being hurried!

  2. Dear Sandy,
    I feel awful about hurrying my daughter. It seems I spend so much time not hurrying her that in the end, I have to hurry her urgently. I have this thing where I tend to be the last person to the car on family outings or I have to go back in the house for last minute things. I ask myself, “Why is everyone else ready to just jump in the car and it seems to take me forever?” I do this alone or when others are around. I guess I just can’t get my stuff together.
    There’s two beliefs for me to check into: everyone else is ready and can just jump in, but not me and that’s wrong.
    The other belief is I can’t get my stuff together and that’s not all right.
    Your willingness to grow and your growth always inspires mine!
    Keep up the good work!

    • Laurie,

      A couple things here. Of course you wouldn’t want to hurry your daughter – you don’t like hurrying yourself. Seeing those two thoughts as beliefs is a good start. Rather than, “I can’t get my stuff together,” take a look at what you ARE doing. You probably ARE getting your stuff together – going back a couple of times is just how you do it. When you stop making yourself wrong, you can actually design some pretty effective CAN DOs that take that into account. It might be exactly what your daughter needs to have modeled so she can design some of her own. Until we listen to ourselves and understand, we end up unconsciously trying to prove we are right. Just remind yourself you always are, then figure out how.

  3. Dear Sandy,
    Thank you. I am getting my stuff together. I couldn’t see that before.
    I know how to get my stuff together.
    I do get my stuff together. It only takes a minute or two, that’s how good I am at getting my stuff together. I bet I can find a way to use that minute a minute earlier.
    Okay, I’ll work on it some more.
    Thanks so, so, so, much.

    • Laurie,

      Love that you so quickly realized that you are actually “good at getting your stuff together.” Great turn-around! Remind yourself of that each time you do it to create a new thought pattern or leave yourself a note for a while.

      Meanwhile, here’s me “going back for more stuff” with one of my frequent afterthoughts:

      What if the thing that sends you back for more is your natural ability to see something better? The first stuff you gather is probably adequate for the trip – the basics like purse, shoes, child; then you see the car and think of something that would make the trip even better like keys. Then you sit down behind the wheel and think of sunglasses, a bottle of water, a letter you want to mail, entertainment for your child… This is what you’ve been calling “an inability to get your stuff together,” but isn’t “spontaneous vision” more accurate — the ability to see something better than what is? And you’ve been trying to stifle that?!!

      What if the difference between you and the others is not only your refusal to settle for adequate, but also the fact that what inspires your spontaneous vision is physical presence – like getting into the car or sitting down on the couch with a book. You don’t have to clutter your mind with “what if’s” if you can count on yourself to be brilliant with “what is.” “What is” is your muse…and this is wrong?!!

      The more you observe yourself through the eyes of greatness, the more you will fall in love with yourself. The transformation from “I can’t get my stuff together,” to “What will I think of next?” is a journey worth taking. And it all starts with SAYing WHAT YOU SEE as in saying what you ARE doing instead of what you ARE NOT.

      I love how fun and easy life becomes when you see your greatness. Thank you so much for the thought-inspiring post!

  4. And I’m bawling now as you have reached in with your Vision and handed me my own Light. I want to see me like this.
    I want to be like you and see such greatness, see the Divine in even what others call wrong or bad, in even small things, a few words. You are a genius. What you have given me is what I want to be able to give to my daughter. And indeed, as many as I can.
    This gift has changed my life.
    Thank you

    • Laurie,

      Such a moving response. That’s exactly how it feels to finally see something your heart always knew was true. Thank you for expressing it so eloquently.

      You are welcome.

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