While some repetition can be good, too much of it can be a bad thing.
Last evening, our youngest, who has developed a fear of the dark, got up about five times to ask if she could sleep with us.
While my wife and I were as kind as possible, and as reassuring as we could be, after the third or fourth time, the process of giving her a hug, walking her back to her bedroom, and tucking her into bed, started to wear a bit thin.
While I definitely see the value in repeated practice, I also lose patience when things are repeated too often. While I know that we can’t “get things” the first time around and I also understand that depending on our age and circumstance, we may need more developmental time than others, I also struggle when someone (including me) takes the same actions over and over without making any change or showing any growth.
There are two things to learn from this. First, it is a sign that I’m likely not facilitating the learning as well as I should. How could I have worked with my daughter to help her better understand the importance of staying in bed? How can I work more effectively with colleagues to help them continue to grow, rather than remain stuck on an idea or a process? Second, it also makes me wonder about when we stop heading down one path and substitute it for another. In other words, at some point, we have to stop the repetition and try a different way; if we arrive at a dead end in a maze, we don’t keep walking into the wall. . . we turn around and choose a different way to go.
Both of these learnings were important reflection points for me at three in the morning. But, I chose not to reflect too long at that point. I did want to get back to bed, after all.