Many teachers think about positivity and well being, as something that is achieved by what they do, rather than what they do not.
Teachers are doers and even more so during the 2020 pandemic. Teachers and those in education are, by nature, positive and hopeful. To achieve positivity, sometimes the brain likes to look at the negative or what not to do, especially in difficult times.
Education has never been more difficult, and teachers have been doing more to ensure continuity for our students. They are quarantined, watching conflicting news and teaching remotely away from face-to-face contact with students and colleagues. There are lots of new problems in this new world. With problems comes the search for who is to blame.
It is easy to blame the politicians for what is happening. It is easy to blame our families during quarantine within our homes. It is easy to blame the school districts, students, parents, and administrators who are just not doing what they are supposed to. It is easy to blame an invisible virus. The blame list can be long, and we become trapped in a loop of stress and anxiety. This loop causes paralysis or the inability to complete projects.
Teachers who are surviving the 2020 Pandemic are experiencing the following:
• Inability to complete projects or activities
• Stress and Anxiety
• Blaming others for problems
In order to improve positivity and well-being during this pandemic, there are some definite “do nots.” If these “do nots” are eliminated from one’s day, positivity and well being are just around the corner.
#1 Do Not: Be Critical of Self and Others
Criticism can be about the students that are not showing up to do the work, the parents that are calling one at night, the district is not being fast enough with guidelines, or the admin is not supportive. We put down others, or we criticize others as a way to handle our insecurities and our lack of self-worth. One finger pointing at others is three fingers pointing back at one.
Criticism can also be of oneself, believing the thoughts that one is not good enough when one is.
It makes us feel better to be critical. If one says that this parent is not good, it is another way of saying the person criticizing is a better parent. Moreover, if one criticizes someone for not showing up and being their best, it must mean that the person criticizing is better at showing up.
There are a time and place for critiques and feedback. Teachers and administrators give regular feedback as part of improving student success. The difference between this and criticism is that feedback comes from a place of unselfishness, love, and service.
#2 Do Not: Worry and Fret about Tomorrow
If one is worried about tomorrow, this means that one is not present today.
It does seem like the world is going to hell in a handbasket. The world is in the middle of a pandemic. Something that has not existed since 1917. We all want to have normalcy back. We all want to have a sense of certainty, and this comes from our survival instinct. Humans are hard-wired to seek stability and safety.
No one can just eliminate or change the future. No one has that power. One can change or eliminate worrying about the future.
Funny story is if one wants something not to happen, one should worry about it because the things that we worry about never happen.
For example, no one was worried about a pandemic and having to revamp education through remote or distance learning completely.
The things that I do not seem to worry about happening can happen. Moreover, just because one is thinking about a problem, it does not mean that one is productive, or one is into the solution. Worrying is giving one a false sense of control. It is an old, old friend, and it is a way to deal with stress.
It is a way to deal with depression and anxiety, and yet it is the fuel for those. Moreover, worrying means that one thinks they know what is best. One wants the politicians, one wants the virus, one wants the students, one wants the whole world the way one wants it. Also, it needs to happen now and not tomorrow.
#3 Do Not: Live in or Regret the Past
So many teachers have regrets or shame about the past. It is an instinctual desire to create certainty, to create balance, or to create a sense of control. If one ruminates about the past and one’s past mistakes, then it is easy to think those mistakes will not happen again. Eradicating mistakes is not going to happen and just is not necessarily true, especially if there is shame attached to the past event.
One cannot change the past, but one can change their perception of the past. A change in perception sees mistakes as a gift. Past mistakes are excellent teachers, and a significant opportunity to transform and move into well-being.
Regretting the past and being ashamed of the past changes nothing. Talking about what happened insistently, thinking about the past often is a way to dig in deeper and relive the trauma. It gives a sense of helplessness and powerlessness. Moreover, that keeps one stuck in the past and negativity.
It is a delusion to think that one has control of our future by trying to control our past. Being present is where all the fun is.
#4 Do Not: Have Idealistic Expectations for Self and Others
So much is expected of teachers today. The expectation is to save the world, create the future, and make sure every child is at or above grade level with perfect citizenship. A moral imperative of this magnitude is as stressful as it is meaningful.
Some might say these are idealistic or unrealistic, and maybe this is true. It might work better to have realistic expectations of others and us.
There is a direct correlation between idealistic expectations and serenity, positivity and well-being,
When it comes to students, teachers have honest expectations rather than idealistic ones and never give up on that student. It is difficult to have an effective teaching plan if one does not know where one is and where one needs to go. Teaching works better based in reality.
To have idealistic expectations for self and others is a form of control. It stems from stories that one makes up in one’s head. They should do this or that. There is also a need to change others rather than self in order to feel better. An unrealistic expectation for others comes from a place of just trying to feel better, not wanting something that’s best for them.
With idealistic expectations, it is just impossible to maintain well-being and positivity.
In conclusion If one wants to increase personal positivity in this crazy time in history stop making a do list and remember the don’ts,
Remember, instead of criticizing others, see them, hear their story, see the beauty in them, see the hope in them.
Instead of worrying about the future be present. Instead of being ashamed or ruminating about the past, tell and celebrate one’s story today. One can’t change the past. It is over. Nevertheless, one can have a significant impact on the future Instead of idealistic expectations of self and others accept where one and others are and how beautiful the process is.