Put on your oxygen mask!
So, if you want to change the world with me, you’ll need to make sure you’re in tip top condition. After a week camping without internet reception, sitting in my hammock by the creek with a book in my hand, I’ve found my equilibrium, and I’m ready to take on 2020.
Most teachers are already aware of the power of a positive mindset. Many of us use Growth Mindset and Positive Behavoiur for Learning in our classrooms and schools, we get to know our kids, we try to convince them that they are awesome when we can see that they don’t believe that themselves. We teach them mindfulness, and sometimes even meditation. But how many of us actually take on the advice we are giving? How many of us have an intrinsic belief in our own abilities, and in the good of this world? Who here spends enormous amounts of time concentrating on what they are not perfect at, and what they need to do to be more perfect?
Until fairly recently, I was very focused on what I lacked. I needed to be better, I needed to be thinner, faster, stronger, more organised, more engaging. I needed to hear people tell me I was doing a great job, and I was trying to be everything to everyone. This behaviour reached a crescendo after finally escaping a traumatic work environment after 4 years of daily psychological manipulation. Suddenly I found myself in a relatively stable workplace, and I started to come apart at the seams. Quietly. Alone. Until I sought help.
I began with seeing a therapist who put me in touch with my trauma – going back to some very early challenges in my life, right up until the most recent – the workplace situation and a string of sudden passings of friends and family. Once I accepted the trauma of my own experiences, I began working with the amazing Casey Warwick (you can find her on Facebook) to begin the rewiring of my thought patterns. As my anxiety abated and I started to focus more on the things about me that were great, I realised how much I was limiting my impact on the people around me – my family and my students – by limiting my opportunities for personal growth. I was a whinger. I focused on all that was wrong with myself and the world. And I was ready to find magic.
So I embarked on a journey that seems to have no end. Instead of listening to the news and true crime podcasts on the way to work, I began listening to audiobooks by people such as Brene Brown, who writes much about shame and vulnerability; I listened to Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself; I listened to Russell Brand’s podcast – Under the Skin. I looked for anything and everything that was going to lift me up. I journalled every day. I meditated, did yoga. I faced some ugly things about myself, and then said goodbye to them. I learnt to really consider whether I had put my best foot forward in every situation, and to take action and approach someone when I decided that I had not done the right thing by them. I started working on positive habits with regards to my diet and my relationships, and I forgave a lot of people.
As soon as I began to expect good things, good things came. I realised that if I was going to teach my students to be mindful, to develop a growth mind set, and if I was going to create a positive learning environment, I had to be all of those things myself. The thing is, we can never be those things if we are putting all of our energy into criticising ourselves and relentlessly trying to be better. We MUST have some time to just be. In this perfect moment. In this perfect body. In this perfect mind.
I say that we are “perfect” because I believe that every single one of us is exactly where we are meant to be right now, and we rarely stop to consider this. The Abraham-Hicks Emotional Guidance Scale places love and joy at the very top of the emotional scale, and fear at the very bottom. Of course, we all feel all of these emotions at times, but we hope to not get stuck in some of those areas at the lower end of the scale. The more people around you who are sitting mostly in the top end, the better you actually feel! So, if you get to this point yourself, imagine how much better you will be for those pliable little minds that you guide each day.
So, now is the time to put on your oxygen mask. It’s not easy, which is why it’s great to use this time where you have a few weeks up your sleeve. Find yourself some mentors. Who makes you feel good? Hang out with the right people, and you’re halfway there. Pay attention to your conversations. What are you talking about? Does it fill your cup? If not, maybe you need to consider where your time and energy are going, and with whom. Think about your food and other lifestyle choices. I have developed this habit of saying “am I honouring myself right now?”, and if the answer is no, I walk away from it. Sometimes I am totally honouring myself by having a wine with friends, or a decadent dessert. Sometimes it is perfect for me to have a little Netflix binge, and sometimes I’m better to get up and clean out the office like I’ve been meaning to do. Once you start listening to what you’re really saying, it will get easier to make the best choice for you.
I already had a background in holistic medicine, so this recent work wasn’t a big stretch for my, even though it was certainly challenging. But almost all teachers have similar intentions. They want to have an impact on their students, and they want to educate the whole child.
I say it takes a whole teacher to teach a whole child. Use these weeks to be kind to yourself. Re-energise. Do things you love to do. As we get closer to school days, I’ll do a post about how to put in boundaries and keep them there throughout term for a better, more balanced you. You can’t be effective in caring for others if you don’t properly care for yourself! Find some magic!