There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about pay fairness for all teachers and whether an ECE teacher has the same worth as a secondary calculus teacher. There has also been some talk about who should be legally allowed to call themselves a teacher. I know from reading indignant and angry comments across the many social media forums that this touches us all and there are many teachers that feel hurt and undervalued by this.
I have been reflecting on this and it has brought up some thought provoking questions for me to ponder around qualifications and how we see ourselves.
I recently had a conversation with a colleague whom is a well-regarded, successful early childhood teacher and business owner and whom I respect immensely; about how my qualification (a diploma of ECE) made me feel inferior and not professional enough. Her response to me was, “what do you think I have?” With all her successes her original ECE qualification is a diploma of teaching too. My response to her was “but that doesn’t matter, look how professional and successful you are, what a great teacher you are, how much experience you have!”
Light bulb moment! Why was I able to see this in her, but not myself?
Which brings me to the subject of my post today?
Why are we able to see the greatness in others but we are unable to see the greatness in ourselves?
Perhaps like me, you were taught as a child to be seen and not heard and to be humble.
Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka
The kumara does not say how sweet he is
Perhaps it is the fear of judgement. Perhaps it is the fear that we will be seen as a fraud or that we will make a mistake.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we all walk around bragging about how great we are and I am certainly not discounting anyone’s qualifications or experience either. We are all working hard on our own teaching journey. This is not about comparing or judging.
I am talking about something a lot more personal that you may be able to relate to.
Is this you?
Someone pays you a compliment, and your automatic response is to feel uncomfortable and to say something to contradict or downplay the compliment?
Why are we so lousy at taking compliments? Why are we so awful at being kind and compassionate to ourselves and owning our greatness?
Have you mislabelled yourself?
In Danielle Krysa’s book “Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk” she writes:
“Labels are sticky. They’re great for organizing your cupboard; but when people put clingy, hard-to-remove labels on themselves, it can prevent creative growth. And sometimes labels have incorrect information! That’s why what’s inside the can matters.”
Have you stuck a big old label on yourself with incorrect information? Do you say things like, “I am just an teacher”, ” I only have a diploma”, “I am only a parent”, ” I am only a reliever”, “I am only a new grad”, “I am only an untrained teacher”, ” I am only a centre director”, “I am only….” the list is endless.
Have we forgotten to look inside the “can” at our strengths and talents and own and celebrate these within ourselves. We are so much more than just the labels we have given ourselves.
You were given your strengths and talents for a reason. If we can’t acknowledge them and own them, then how are we going to be able to use them to create magic in our lives, and the lives of our children, and teams and centres? Who knows what we can achieve if we remove the big old sticky label.
How do we remove the label?
As I have previously posted, we are often cruel and unkind to ourselves in the way that we speak to ourselves – we are often our worst critic. We would never dream of speaking to others the way that we speak to ourselves. Yet it has been scientifically proven time and time again that our thoughts have the power to shape our reality.
What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.” – Buddha.
If we have given ourselves a label we are likely to do two things:
- Find enough evidence to prove it to ourselves.
- Discount anything to the contrary of our belief.
Even if this label is a false one.
Some ways that we can remove the label are:
Awareness: Healing comes from awareness. Actively listen to what you are telling yourself. The more you practice being mindful of your thoughts. The more aware you become, you will see just how destructive they can be.
Be kind: Replay some of your internal dialogue, ask yourself; where you being kind to yourself? Where you treating yourself with the same respect and compassion you would show to others?
Where did it come from? Dig a little bit deeper, where does this self-doubt, destructive self- talk and label come from? Is the label you created for yourself, a way of keeping yourself safe?
Stop comparing: We all have our own talents and strengths that make us unique. Comparing yourself to others will only rob you of your joy.
Find new evidence: Be open to finding and believing new evidence that contradicts the label that you have given yourself. Accept those Compliments!
Trust your intuition: Sometimes we spend so much time believing damaging thoughts that we learn not to trust our intuition. Listen for it, your intuition may be but a whisper, but it is there if you look for it.
Practice, practice, practice and fake it till you make it: As with any new skill, you will fumble and make mistakes, but practice makes perfect. Treat yourself with compassion.
Acknowledging the greatness in ourselves
So whatever label you have given yourself, it is time to rip it off and acknowledge yourself for all greatness that you have within you.
It will take practice, persistence, perseverance and a present mind to achieve this, but don’t give up…
You are worth it.
Thank you for reading my blog. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.