Usually this time of year, we find all the "thankful" challenges taking over the scrolling on our social media platforms. People taking the time to make daily proclamations of the things they are grateful for in their daily lives. Did you notice this year there seems to be much less of this than usual?
The world is most certainly in a different place this holiday season. Not just locally but globally as well. The vibe is altogether different as our crazy world attempts to heal and sort things out in light of 2020.
I, too, am guilty of not partaking in these challenges that are usually led by socialites like myself. But I am happy to report that even though I haven't shared any personal gratitude lately, it has been behind the scenes in full force.
Are you struggling mentally throughout your day?
On the surface, things would seem to appear fairly normal in my life. My smile still shines ear to ear as I show up and give 100% each day. But the truth is, like many of you, I am feeling the wrath of covid. Especially where my career is concerned. My mental state needs daily nudges and reminders to stay positive.
I am an elementary school teacher. I not only had to move to a new grade level. I also had to relocate to another building.
This may not seem like such a big deal to some. But picture if you will, a doctor. One who has studied and mastered cancer care. Then along comes covid and that doctor is told they will now serve cardiac patients instead. And by the way, they will also need to report to an unfamiliar hospital. This exact scenario is what played out for many of us in the educational world.
Don't get me wrong. The staff and students in my new building are wonderful. That is not the problem I face. It is the lack of relationships and the feeling of being vested that cause my resistance. I miss my families. I miss my friendships at work.
I am a relationships kind of gal. I thrive on connection and conversation. I thrive on having my heart engrossed in whatever I am doing.
All of that changed in a moment when I returned to the new school year.
I am no longer a Pre-K teacher pulling out puppets to sing the ABC's. I am no longer sitting side by side during parallel play. I don't know the faces coming toward me down the hallway. And thanks to new restrictions, I cannot even see the faces or emotions behind the mask to really start new connections, though I do try.
It feels lonely. It feels off. It often feels like I am doing someone else's job.
What tools are you using to cope in times of mental struggle?
I find myself in unfamiliar territory. Which of course has helped me to strengthen another new tool. The "I get to..." statement. It is most certainly not a new concept and you have likely heard of it before. Nothing more than a simple "self-talk" strategy any of us can utilize to rethink our situation.
To make this work, we have to practice the pause. Taking an actual moment or two to reframe our thinking to objectively look at the situation instead of allowing our personal emotions to flood over us.
~I get to... go to work each day.
~I get to... teach children in person rather than remotely.
~I get to... make a difference in the lives of the students seated before me.
~I get to... create new relationships with new students and staff.
I quite literally began having this conversation with myself on a daily basis. And the silver lining is that it soon spilled over into other areas of my life. Any time I notice myself complaining, criticizing, or comparing, I pull out this new thought weapon. This re-framing tool can be used to gratefully look at any situation that comes up in our day.
~I get to... visit the cancer institute for yearly check-ups.
~I get to... clean the kitchen after having a family meal.
~I get to... make the bed with fresh clean sheets.
~I get to... pay my bills in full and on time.
Words are extremely powerful. The ones we say out loud to others as well as the ones we listen to inside our heads.
I challenge you to use this holiday season as a time to re-frame your thinking! Practice using the "I get to..." strategy whenever you feel resistance or complaining taking over your thoughts. We simply have so much to be grateful and thankful for on a daily basis.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts or comments on this article!❣