Letting go. Unburdening yourself. Making space. Becoming unencumbered. Few would argue with the value of these behaviors, but how do we actually do it?
“It’s time to stop beating yourself up.”
When I speak to groups of students or educators, I make sure to touch on self-compassion as an important part of mindfulness practice. Typically, I begin with the statement above, shortly followed by, “…it’s not working, nor is it doing what you think it is.”
I start my overview of self-compassion with this because the experience of mentally beating oneself up is rather universal in our culture. Just about everyone does it, and I would guess that you do, too.
Negative self-talk and the inner critic are so pervasive because many people see it as useful. Some people even resist being gentler with themselves because they think self-flagellation is how they “hold themselves accountable” or “stay in line” or “teach themselves a lesson” when they mess up.
You might feel that you are too busy to stop and consider this question. I understand. You might not actually want to know the truth of your experience right now. I get that, and I realize it can be uncomfortable and perhaps even scary to find out what the answer to the question might be.
In spite of all this, I'm inviting you to check in with yourself and see what comes up when you ask, "how are you?" in earnest.
Just yesterday I was sitting on a metal stool, eating my lunch at a counter. Everything was fine, and then I got a sharp pain in my left leg that felt like a bug bite. That was manageable, but the pain caused my leg to jerk to the side, thereby whacking it on the stool leg and creating way more pain than the original sensation.
I swore like a sailor (because profanity is one of my guilty pleasures), rubbing my leg until the pain lessened adequately, and continued eating my lunch. Then, as I was finishing up, I took a swig of my seltzer and some of it went down the wrong tube, resulting in that kind of coughing that is more reminiscent of eye-watering and gagging noises than anything else.
Then the burst of rage came.
Since it’s late August, it’s time for us to get back into the swing of things at school. As I mentioned in my post earlier this month, transitions are hard, and we as educators need to be intentional about doing (or not doing) whatever is necessary to ease this transition. Here are two important areas of focus to consider.
This week is teacher work week.
As I write this, I am now at home after an all-day, off site professional development training with all the certified staff at my school. The details of the training itself aren’t particularly important. What is important is how I felt by the end of the day: really, really tired.
Have you had the dream yet?
You know the one. It happens in the final weeks of summer, before teachers have to report back to school. For some reason, they come sooner and sooner for me every year. I haven’t had it yet, but I can sense it in the distance, like the faint, high minor chord of a horror movie soundtrack.
It’s around this time of the summer that everything hits its peak: the celebrations, the travel and activities, and the heat. For those of us who allow ourselves to think about it, the beginning of July is also the marker that summer is halfway over. While it would be very easy to expend energy bemoaning this fact, instead I’m going to try to reframe this as a reminder to savor the time that remains and celebrate all the summer and vacation-related things I feel passionate about. Which brings me to July’s theme: passion.