The Emotionally Literate Teacher’s Guide to Mindful Decision Making

Mindful decision making

 

I was recently reflecting on my leadership journey and a piece of advice that I was given by my manager when I was a brand-new leader in early childhood education twelve years ago.

It is advice that I am sure that many of you might have received during your own journey as a leader, “Take your team along with you for the journey”.  Sounds simple enough, right?  What many of us, and certainly I, didn’t realise at the time was that not only was I bringing my baggage along for the ride, but so was everyone else.  I didn’t realise that part of my role was to help my team to manage their baggage and I hadn’t even started learning about how to manage my own.

During a workshop I attended I was asked, “did you plan your role, or did you land in your role?”

I recon that most of us land in it.  We are good teachers with, great ideas, motivation, initiative and “leadership potential”.  Someone “taps us on the shoulder” and says, “How would you like to be a head teacher?” We receive a rush of emotion and we usually feel extremely honoured that someone saw the potential – the value in us.  We crash land in these roles with very little formal experience of how motivate, inspire and lead others.  All the while we are dealing with our own baggage of self-doubt, overly high expectations of who we should be and guilt for not living up to our own expectations and our perceived expectations from others.   Not only this, but we also feel responsible for helping others to carry their baggage.

One of the key areas that we have little to no training in is sound decision making.  No one trains us to make mindful decisions so we go into emergency mode – we go into reactive mode. We spend our whole day putting out fires and making decisions from a place of weakness – it is overwhelming and it is exhausting!

Hitting Reset and Getting Yourself Out of Reactive Mode

It always starts with us.

In order for us to influence we first have to connect and the first person we need to connect with is ourselves.

There is no magic secret, quick-fix, but the first step in the journey is self-awareness.  In order for us to be self-aware we need to stop living in denial.

We first have to admit to ourselves that we have baggage and own up to that baggage, even if it is tempting to try to hide the extra weight in our cabin luggage or the extra bag that we don’t want to declare.

This luggage could be in the form of narratives that we have made up of our lives, behaviour loops, dispositions, mindsets, emotions and self-doubt.  Owning up to this can be difficult, confronting and sometimes a bit messy, but self-awareness is also incredibly healing.

Are you making decisions when you are running on empty?

When we are depleted, not getting enough sleep, worrying too much, stressed out and not nourishing ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually it is very easy for us to go into reactive mode.

A quote that I love, from Nanea Hoffman puts this beautifully into words,

You know how you’ll eat anything when you’re starving? Like, you’ll go to the grocery store on an empty stomach and just come home with weird stuff that you don’t need?

Yeah don’t go out into the world with an empty soul.  You’ll fill up on all kinds of weird crap.  Be sure to nourish yourself first.

I have learnt over time, that I don’t make the best decisions when I am tired or stressed out.  I have realised that I should give serious decisions the time and clarity that they deserve, by choosing to delay the decision till I am physically, mentally and spiritually full.

I know that this might seem pretty obvious and slightly ludicrous when you read this – I know, duh, you don’t make good decisions when you are emotional, tired or stressed??? But when you are caught up in reactive mode, you just react!

There is no denying it, we are defined by our decisions and our decisions are largely influenced by the filter of our values.

Decision-making is a lens that sharpens your values and brings them into focus and makes them materialise in the choices that you make. – Dr Joe Arvai

Therefore when making an important decision, I find it helpful to reconnect with my vision, my core values, my “why”. I also give myself permission to percolate:

 

When we brew coffee and allow it to stand, the coffee strengthens and becomes richer in flavor and aroma.

When we give ourselves time and space to percolate, our ideas become richer and more complex.
We become more focused on the direction we would like to take and clearer on our intentions.
Sometimes when we give ourselves space, solutions or creative ideas might just “appear” in our head.

We often get into the habit of thinking that we have to give an immediate answer to everything and everyone that comes our way.  This switches us into reactive mode and we make decisions that we might not have made if we had given ourselves the time and space to apply wisdom.

What type of a decision maker are you?

Part of this process is owning what kind of a decision maker you are. Perhaps you might recognise yourself in one of the following decision-making styles.

The Creative – you have a spark of inspiration and you leap into taking action.

The Creative is really comfortable with change, they are passionate, have lots of momentum and often inspire others with their passion, energy and creative ideas.  If you need decisive action, then The Creative is your go to person.

The Creative can often act with-out thinking through the consequences of the decision and the “how”.  They often rely on their ability to problem solve on the spot.  Creatives often take action from narrowly gathered information or without considering anyone else in the decision- making process.

The Collaborator – you need to get everyone’s input before you can make the decision.

The Collaborator is democratic and flexible in their approach.  They are flexible to change, and they are working from the place of “what is best for the collective good”.  They like to bounce ideas off other people and make a decision by what suits the team.  Collaborators make decisions from a wide range of information and often make sound decisions.

However, Collaborators can sometimes get caught up in other people’s drama and find it challenging to make the “hard” decision when it falls to only them.  They can come across as indecisive and “wishy washy”.

The Procrastinator – you always find something more pressing to do that stops you from making a decision.

The Procrastinator dislikes change and will do anything to avoid making a decision or embracing change.  Procrastinators will often find things that are more important to do or leave the decision to the last possible moment.  Procrastinating behaviour often stems from some underlying narrative about themselves or some underlying barrier that they are in denial from, which stops them from acting decisively.

The Planner – you need to look at the decision from all angles and then look at it again before you can make the decision.

The Planner likes to be in control, they are not entirely comfortable with change and taking risks scare them.  They need to work through every possible scenario of what could happen as a result of the decision.  They need to know “How”.  Planners are super organised and have sound decision making processes.

However they can sometimes “over-think” things and create a lot of stress for themselves and the others around them.  Planners need to control the situation and often find it challenging to let others be part of the decision-making process.

Which one are you?  We can sometimes see a little of each of these in ourselves depending on the situation.  For many of us the type of decision maker we are stems from the narrative we have about ourselves, as well as our dispositions.  We also need to be aware with our behaviour loops (behaviour patterns that we default to).  Are you a serial controller? Do you have the tendency to sabotage? Do you fall into the trap of “I don’t know?” or “what do you think?”

Beware of decision fatigue

Decision fatigue (yes it is a real thing!) – the average person switches between tasks 566 times a day – especially in this digital age.  These constant “micro decisions” deplete our neural resources and slowly strips us from our focus, willpower and energy causing decision fatigueThis reduced focus and energy can deteriorate our ability to make good decisions.  This can be both exhausting and overwhelming.

Some ways to guard yourself from decision fatigue are:

  • Simplify the choices that you need to make through-out the day.  Decide the night before what you are going to wear and eat the next day.  If you prepare the night before this amounts to less decisions that you need to make in the morning, safeguarding precious neural resources for more important decisions later in the day.  It has been documented that Barrack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs all simplified their work wardrobe to one or two choices in order to counteract decision fatigue.  This is why you always see Mark Zuckerberg in his signature grey t-shirt and jeans and Steve Jobs in his polo-neck sweater and jeans.  Barrack Obama only wore blue or grey suits in his entire 8 years in the oval office.
  • Keep your important decision making for earlier in the day when your energy levels are higher.
  • Link similar tasks and decisions together.
  • Stop unnecessary internet surfing.  Do you need to constantly check your emails and social media status? All this unnecessary browsing is sucking up important decision making energy!
  • Spend some time during the day doing nothing.   Percolate!!! When we do nothing, this allows our brain the time and space make new connections and better decisions.

How to make more mindful decisions?

It is important to note that as with any leadership skill, the skill of sound decision-making is something that you can learn over time.  With awareness, reflection, personal risk-taking and an open mind and heart.

Firstly, it is important to pay attention to the narratives about yourself that are playing in your subconscious.  These are the things that you tell yourself about yourself.

Are you a Planner who is sub-consciously saying to yourself “I can’t trust anyone else, so I need to do everything myself”? Are you a Collaborator, who is subconsciously saying “I can’t trust myself, so I have to get everyone else to make the decision for me”? Or are you a Procrastinator who is subconsciously saying “I am so afraid of making a decision because something bad may happen, I will just avoid it”?

I challenge you to look at your past experiences, whether in childhood or adulthood and determine where these messages came from, examine their validity and the power you are giving them over your decisions.  Are they causing you to make bad decisions?  Are you subconsciously sabotaging yourself, choosing to be the victim or going to “I don’t know-ville”?

I know that thinking like this and examining yourself through this lens is scary and it takes extraordinary courage, but remember that fear is just a feeling and strong emotions are the price of admission to a full and empowered life.

I then challenge you to find new evidence in your life for the person that you REALLY are. When you catch yourself saying mean and horrible things about yourself, you then purposefully tell yourself a new truth – a kinder truth of self-love and empowerment.  Think about how you would talk to others.  Remember your brain is a muscle, you have the power to rewire it.  You have the potential to learn new habits – to learn new knowledge and apply this to your life.  Over time you will learn to trust yourself and listen to your heart and gut about what “feels” right.

Once you are self-aware use the following steps to make better decisions:

  • Analyse your goals and objectives (what is the desired outcome?).
  • What options do you have to choose from?
  • What are the possible consequences that result from your choices?
  • What are the costs or trade-offs of your decision and can you live with them?
  • Reflect, evaluate and practise, practise, practise….

decision making building code

Remember that you are still learning, most of the decisions that we make are not fatal. If you make a bad decision you can always admit that you made a mistake and that this is something that you are working on and make a different decision next time.  After all, don’t we tell our children that mistakes are okay and part of how we learn?

What decisions will you make today, and how will you approach them?

If you want to find out more about growing your emotional literacy skills go over to www.arohanuicollective.com and check out the course The Emotionally Literate Teacher

where we will unpack tools for self-awareness and self-management as well as examining how we can use emotional literacy to unlock tools for inspirational leadership and building team cultures.

Until next time,

Ka kite,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Emotionally Literate Teacher’s Guide to Conversations for Change

 

conversations for change

Love them or hate them, fear them or get excited by them, conversations for change are an essential part of being not just an early childhood leader or teacher, but also fundamental to being human.

Even though our brains do not like change we need change.  As a society are constantly striving for excellence and innovation.  How can we do things better? How can we do this more efficiently? How can we work smarter not harder? What is the next big thing?

As teachers we are taught to reflect on our practice and how things are done. We undertake internal evaluations into the running of our rooms and centres, our policies and our pedagogy.  We attend professional development or read literature, exposing us to new ideas and research provokes new thinking and action.

Why then are so many of us afraid of change and afraid of even having conversations with others about change?  The answer to this is rooted in Emotional Literacy.

 

What is Emotional Literacy?

If we are emotionally literate we have self-awareness and recognise our own feelings and we know how to manage them. Emotional Literacy also includes being able to recognise and adapt to the feelings of other people, whilst at the same time, learning how to manage and express our own emotions effectively.

If our goal is to be effective change agents, we need to recognise that the reason why change and even having conversations for change, are difficult for us, is because we are having an emotional response.

You have activated the part of your brain called your amygdala which is essential to your ability to feel certain emotions and to perceive them in other people. You are in fact experiencing an amygdala hijack.

An amygdala hijack can be defined as:

“An Amygdala Hijack is an immediate and overwhelming emotional response out of proportion to the stimulus because it has triggered a more significant emotional threat. The amygdala is the part of our brain that handles emotions. During an Amygdala Hijack, the amygdala “hijacks” or shuts down the neo-cortex.” Daniel Goleman

Let me put this into context for you.  You can see that change that needs to happen, you know why it needs to happen, you even know how to make the change happen.  This is all perfectly rational and part of our neo-cortex function of our brain.

However, for most people the thought of change does not stay in our rational, thinking part of our brain.  As human beings our brains are wired for our first response to be an emotional one. We get triggered by past experiences of change and feelings of fear and uncertainty and this causes an emotional response in our brains. This some cases can cause a physical response in us, like sweaty palms, a racing heart, feeling flushed, dry mouth and a queasy stomach. This is in short, an amygdala hijack and this is triggering your fight or flight reflex due to a perceived attack.

How do we move past this emotional response and take action?

You may not be able to control the emotional response, but you can control the thoughts that follow an emotion if you are aware of it.  I will clarify this for you in the steps below:

  • Recognise – Emotional literacy starts with you and your self-awareness. You need to recognise within yourself that you are in fact having an emotional reaction. Motivational speaker, Mel Robbins talks about using the five second rule in this instance.  When you are experiencing an emotional response, recognise it for what it is and count backwards from five to one.  This helps you to shift from the limbic part of your brain which controls emotions into your neo-cortex where you process rational thought.
  • Observe the emotion impartially and name the emotion. For example, “I am feeling fear”.
  • Analyse – Where did this feeling come from? Most feelings come from our past experiences, or the messages that we heard from others growing up, or as part of our cultural programming. We then use these to attach meaning to situations we are currently dealing with or faced with in the future.

For example, most people when faced with addressing practice in others or change, might have an internal dialogue of, “Why should they listen to me?” “If I give them feedback about their practice, they will look at me and see that I am not perfect all the time.” “If I suggest that we change this, it could cause disagreements.” “It might not work and then everyone with think badly of me, blame me for the failure or be angry with me.” “They will think that I am incompetent as leader.” “This will expose me as a fraud and that I don’t know what I am talking about.”

You might like to unpack some of this and write down the self-talk that is going on for you.

This where self-management comes in – rationally work through what you made things mean. What is the worst-case scenario? What is the likelihood of your worst-case scenario even happening?

Part of being emotionally literate is that you develop the mind-set that you don’t always get it right and you don’t always have to have all the answers.  Our failures are just and opportunity for us to grow and learn new things about ourselves and others.  One of the most powerful things that we can do as leaders is to admit it when we have made a mistake.  Vulnerability inspires respect.

Being emotionally literate means that you are the quiet observer of your thoughts and emotions. Often, we’ve received a message about ourselves from an outside source, and real or perceived we hold onto it as TRUTH which robs us of our self-worth and self-confidence.  When we become the objective observer of our thoughts, we can then intentionally recreate the narrative of who we are and who we were meant to be.  Your subconscious mind believes everything you tell it.  Feed it love, feed it kindness, feed it truth.

  • Connect with your why – One of the most powerful tools you have is your vision. Why is the change necessary? Having self awareness and then knowing why, are your best tools to moving you from a state of fear and self-doubt and motivating you to take action.

Consider this scenario:  Perhaps you are a teacher in a toddler’s room.  You have noticed that meal-times and sleep times are chaotic.  Children are being “herded” from one area to another with little or no connection between teachers and children.  Children are given little or no choice and their natural rhythms and need to connect during care moments are not being respectfully met.  Teachers have become “crowd control officers” and this is very stressful and not very empowering nor respectful for anyone.

This doesn’t sit right for you and you would like to make a change.

The first thing that you need to do is to decide, what you would like to happen in its place. Why this is important to you, the children and the other stake holders?  You might like to curate research and readings as evidence for your vision.  If you are still feeling unsure about having the conversation or making the change – ask yourself, what are the consequences if I do nothing? How will me not acting influence the rights of others and how does this resonate for me?

Once you are armed with your vision you can ignite the other part of your “why” – your passion!

You might be passionate about respectful interactions between teachers and children.  You might feel passionate about children’s rights to have calm, respectful, emotionally satisfying care moments.  You might feel passionate about creating a culture that is rooted in respect, kindness and peace.

In this moment, even though you are fearful of change and having a conversation for change with the other members in your team, you know why the change needs to happen. You are aware of the consequences for your inaction and you feel passionate about your vision.

You have the tools to manage your emotional state in order to take action.  You are armed with the catalyst initiate a conversation for change.

Passion led us here

Influencing others to change

Whether we successfully create change in our settings largely depends on whether you can get buy in from your fellow team members to make the change and to sustain it.  This relies heavily on our emotional literacy skills in social awareness and social management.

Social awareness is our ability to have empathy for others as well as read the dynamics and power relationships of a group of people.  Social management is our ability to motivate and inspire others to trust us and go on a journey with us.  It is our ability to coach and mentor others, work together as part of a team as well as how to cope with and manage conflicts and barriers as they arise.

“The work get done through people, in order to influence we must first connect” Joelle Hadley.

If we look at this from a “conversation for change” context we can apply the following steps:

  • Have empathy – The other members of your team are probably having similar emotional responses to change. Have some compassion for where they are and the emotions that they are experiencing.  Recognise that they are having an emotional response, don’t take this as a personal attack against you and your vision.  Instead give them space and help them to name the emotion.  You might say something like, “I see that you are feeling angry do you want to talk to me about what is going on for you?”
  • Choose the right time to share your vision – Early childhood centres are busy places. Choose a time when you can have everyone’s full attention, such as a staff meeting or non-contact time.  Be clear and succinct about communicating your vision.  Your vision, your “why” is what will drive passion and behaviour.
  • Be aware of different personalities and power dynamics – Not everyone has the same motivators or ways that they like to be communicated with. What is their “why”, their values, passions and beliefs? Do you have values, passions and beliefs in common? How, can you motivate and inspire them to take a risk and trust you, to share your vision? This comes from being interested in others and getting to know them on a personal level.

According to Simon Sinek, “The very survival of the human race depends on our ability to surround ourselves with people who believe what we do.  When we surround ourselves with people who believe what we believe trust emerges.  Trust is a feeling that comes from common values and beliefs.  When we surround ourselves with people who believe what we believe, we are more confident to take risks, to experiment and take chances.”

  • Create a common goal – Get everyone on board through open and honest communication, share concerns and barriers that come up for people. Design a plan, problem solve strategies for success and create a time-line to keep everyone accountable.
  • Acknowledge uncertainty and adversity – Discuss the fact that not everything will go according to plan all the time and setbacks are part of the process. Predict what some of these barriers to success might look like and how you will deal with this as a team when they arise. Reinforce that this a safe space to be curious together, reflect, refine and to make mistakes.
  • Commitment – Commit to the vision – “the why” the plan and the process. You need to hold onto the vision and the passion, as a means to get through adversity and that takes discipline and commitment.

 

I would like to leave you with the following quote from Charles Darwin,

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who survive, but those who can be manage change.”

The Emotionally Literate Teacher, Tanya Valentin ECE

Thank you for reading this blog if you find the subject of Emotional Literacy interesting and would like to unpack this further click here to find out about my upcoming workshop, The Emotionally Literate Teacher.

During this workshop we will dig deeper into Emotional Literacy. We will be inquiring as to why teachers need high levels of Emotional Literacy.  We will be exploring tools to enhance your self-awareness, manage self as well as how to connect with others and enrich your relationships.

Arohanui,

Being Courageous – Becoming Comfortable With Discomfort and Fear

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about courage and what it means to be courageous.  I have come to the realisation that courage can look different to different people depending on where they are in their lives.

For me being courageous is overcoming my self-doubt, pushing myself to write this blog and share my thoughts with you.  It has also been overcoming my fear of looking stupid in public and appearing live on my Facebook live sessions.

Courage however might look different for other people. It may be that you stop ignoring a lump in your breast and see a doctor to get it checked.  It may be that as a mum you confront your addiction to your mobile phone and realise how much time it is taking from your children.  It may be that you need courage to admit to yourself that you are feeling unhappy and you need to do something about it. For you courage might be getting up every morning, getting dressed and getting through the day. Being courageous may be saying “no” to someone because you know that one more “yes” will push your life into overwhelm. Courage might be choosing to do something for yourself or to follow a passion or a dream. Courage may be letting go of a toxic relationship or things in your life that no longer serve you.

As a teacher, courage might be reflecting on your practice and “the way it has always been done” or speaking to a team member about something that they did to upset you.  As a centre director, it may be having that difficult conversation with a parent whose baby has been bitten by another child. It may be having a courageous conversation that addresses someone’s practice.

Being vulnerable hurts

As human beings, we do not like to be uncomfortable and we hate change.  Change often requires us to feel vulnerable and to confront thoughts and feelings that hurt. It can make us feel a little panicked and even defensive. We can be so fearful of discomfort and change that it can cause us to feel physically sick.  Being vulnerable and confronting yourself is not for the weak or the faint-hearted.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness – Brene Brown.

Pain = Growth

We have no problems accepting discomfort and pain as something that is needed for our physical bodies.  I am sure that we have all at one time visited the gym or done some form of physical exercise where we have pushed ourselves and felt the pain of stiff muscles the next day.  “It’s a good pain” we told ourselves.  Children with growing limbs go through “growing pains” all the time.

If you have ever injured yourself and seen a physiotherapist, they will actually give you stretches and exercises that make you feel pain and discomfort in order to strengthen the muscles and heal you.  Even the healing act of massage require an element of pain interwoven with the feelings of pleasure. We accept this on a physical level, we tell ourselves, “No pain, no gain” but we have a really hard time accepting this at an emotional level.

Our brains don’t like change, they will do anything to take the easy way out and to maintain status quo.  However, our brains need change.

In fact, I challenge you that change and discomfort are essential for growing your emotional intelligence, your resilience and your staying power or grit.  Think of these moments of pain and discomfort as burpees for the brain.  We know that it is going to hurt, but it is oh so good for us.

Accepting that it is going to hurt and going there anyway.

In another lifetime, I would have done anything to not feel the discomfort and the pain of confronting myself – my truths.  My younger version was happy to keep myself safe, to do as I was told, to go with the flow, to not ruffle any feathers and to play it small.  I would do anything to avoid conflict.  If you met me on the floor of my centre, you would think, “wow she is always so calm” “she always looks so happy”.

Inside I was at war.  I was at war with myself.  I knew that there were truths that I was swallowing, conflicts that I was avoiding and incompetence, unkindness and prejudice in others that I was tolerating.  I was doing so to keep the peace.  I told myself that this was for the best for everyone involved. However, I was lying to myself – things that you bury have a way of festering and coming back up to the surface.

If I was being honest with myself, I was PETRIFIED.

I was petrified of admitting that I didn’t have the skills to handle the situation, of not having all the answers. I was petrified of making a mistake and letting my boss and my team down.  I was petrified of not being in control of the situation of not living up to my own, impossibly, high expectations of myself.   I put off challenging bad practice in others, because I was petrified about what shortcomings it would unearth about me.  I was petrified of looking like a fraud and I was petrified of appearing weak.  I was petrified of being wrong, and any feedback that wasn’t glowing praise. Paradoxically by the time the glowing praise had filtered through my brain it sounded like criticism to me anyway.

There was a thought loop, a narrative playing over and over in my head keeping me rooted to the spot.  In this thought loop I was telling myself that I was not good enough, that I just couldn’t do it, that I just wasn’t strong enough.

But here’s the rub… this fear, was literally keeping me frozen in place, unable to move and grow as a teacher, a leader and as a person.  And the sad truth is that those whom we serve, our children, our families our teams can’t afford for us to be disconnected and living in a state of denial and fear.

If you are reading this and feeling this right now, thinking that you are not strong enough….

Then let me be the one to tell you

You are filled with infinite, untapped reserves of strength, courage, creativity, persistence and possibilities – more than you will ever know.

As a child you could have been anything and everything your imagination allowed you to be.  You haven’t lost it, you have just forgotten that you had it. You are just out of practice on how to use it.  Have faith in yourself and listen to your intuition – you are just one choice away from being brave, from doing what feels right and doing something amazing that will change your life forever.

How to feel the fear and do it anyway

I have been told that fear is a projection and isn’t real, but I know first-hand that fear is very real.  In some instances, such as stopping yourself from jumping off a cliff or protecting a loved one, fear is not only extremely real but vitally necessary.  As human beings we have an innate sense of self preservation.

The fear that I am challenging you to tackle today is the crippling fear of not being right, not being in control, not trying, not speaking your truth and not living your potential as a human being.

We all have a purpose for being here, we all have a gift to give.  Figuring out your true purpose might be the scariest thing that you do.  It might mean feeling emotions and letting go of things that you have relied on to keep you safe. When you suppress your truth and wage a war within yourself you are allowing your fears to stop you from doing what you are meant to be doing.

The clincher is that the only thing that you can control is your own thoughts, feelings and actions.  You cannot change other people and their thoughts, feelings and actions. The only person that you can change is yourself and that is enough.

 

Mastering yourself, your thoughts and your fears might be the most courageous thing that you ever do.

So how do you feel the fear and do it anyway?

These are some of they ways that I have helped me to move blocks in my life and overcome the fear.

  • Be vigilant of your thoughts – realise that your thoughts have power. Your reality is shaped by your thoughts. You have a choice to allow the thought to control you or for you to control the thought. This might involve digging a bit deeper into the core beliefs that you have about yourself and doing a bit of spring cleaning of the soul – I know scary stuff!
  • Your brain is a muscle – capable of growth and change.  Watch your language, a key learning for me was to replace ” I can’t do it” with “I can’t do it yet”.  Think of challenging situations as an opportunity for your brain to grow, develop and learn new skills.
  • They are just feelings – as scary as they seem, feelings themselves can’t hurt you. They have as much power as you give them.  Tough feelings and emotions are the price of admission to a meaningful life.  Suppressing or denying feelings will only make them more difficult to deal with in the long run.  Instead ask yourself, “what is this feeling here to teach me about myself?” “What am I making it mean?” Learn to observe your feeling from a distance, label it accurately and focus on the unfulfilled need at the root of the feeling.
  • Replace self-pity with self-compassion – there is a big difference between feeling sorry for yourself and feeling kind towards yourself. Self-pity is a bottomless pit of misery that sucks you deeper and deeper into the feeling of despair. Self-pity allows you to perpetuate the endless cycle of being a victim.  Victim thinking allows you to abdicate responsibility for yourself, your thoughts and your actions – it is never your fault.  Self-pity is a form of control – it allows you to avoid making mistakes and possibly failing and getting some-one else to feel sorry for you.   Self-compassion on the other hand is empowering and uplifting.  When you choose to be kind and gentle towards yourself you are choosing to acknowledge that although this new way of thinking can be challenging, and you will make mistakes, it is not because you are not good enough it is just part of the journey of staying curious and courageous about yourself.  You are acknowledging the emotional and personal growth that you are undertaking, the strength, persistence and resilience that this takes.  Wisdom comes from knowing yourself – when you need to push forward and when you need to rest.
  • Start a gratitude ritual – no matter how dire your life might feel, there is always something to be grateful for.  At the very least you have been blessed with another day and you are breathing.  Starting a gratitude practice will reshape your brain and your responses to life.
  • Anchoring your thoughts with your “why” – according to Mel Robbins, author and motivational speaker, the extraordinary fact about fear, is that fear and excitement have the same physical symptoms in your body. The only difference is what your brain is doing.  You can trick your brain to believe that you are excited instead of fearful by using an anchoring thought. Next time you are about to do something that you find challenging and makes you nervous such as having a courageous conversation you can use an anchoring thought to help yourself to take action.  Connect with why it is important for you to have the conversation, then picture yourself after the conversation is finished.  Picture yourself telling someone how well the conversation went and the positive impact your action has had and take this feeling into you meeting.
  • Take action – making any type of change is scary and can be completely overwhelming.  Instead sending yourself into panic-mode, do an honest “internal review” into yourself and ask, “what is the next ‘right’ action I can take now?” And then once that is done, “what is the next ‘right’ action I can take? And so forth.

Often all that is needed is the 10 seconds of courage that it takes to make the decision to take action – Nadine Champion.

I challenge you in the week ahead, dig deep and find your 10 seconds of courage to take the action that you need to in your life, one small shaky step at a time.  All journeys are accomplished one step at a time.

There is no value in playing small, but there is huge potential in starting small – Natasha Vanzetti.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, please comment below.  I love to hear from you.

Arohanui,

 

If you are interested in the topic of emotional literacy and how you use it to unlock your skills as a heart-led teacher and leader contact me about my PLD The Emotionally Literate Teacher.