Of course, there’s nothing like a new start when we refocus on pursuing a life goal, whether it’s something personal like a new health drive or something professional, like reaching for a promotion. We can all take advantage of a fresh new start. And January can certainly be that – an excellent time for drastic measures leading to improvement! After all, psychologists state that we can be more driven to tackle new goals at shared temporal breaks than at random times of the year because these fresh start moments boost motivation by making our focal point what we want to achieve.
But it’s really easy to look back and focus our attention on how bad the past twelve months have been; how recent challenges have negatively impacted behaviours; how past behaviours have made those challenges even tougher; how life choices/ management decisions/government pronouncements made 2021 all the more difficult to manage. If we go down that path, then the only way we can make the horrors of this past year disappear, the only way to ‘ring in the new’ and fight and banish the old, is with even more serious tough love and determination, right?
Wrong! That’s so dangerous – right now and in the future. So many of us are way too good at allowing the inner boot camp voice to shame us into doing things to ourselves (and others!) that are abusive and unkind. Shaming and punishing is not the way to successfully motivate positive changes. It seems odd that the spirit of the festive season is quickly swept away with the decorations and lights when it’s precisely at this time of year that we need more warmth, light, and compassion. That spirit needs to be with us every day – instead of shaming, we need honouring! Who is to say we can’t put up pretty lights, sip a mulled cup and gather around a festive feast at any time of the year?
As is ‘traditional’ at this time of typical new year resolutions, any decision to have something in abundance or to force ourselves into appreciating its scarcity is not healthy! They are all promises of “someday when”. If I think to myself, “I’ll do it when …” or “I’ll be competent when…” and “I’ll finish it when…” I am subconsciously saying I can only possibly be content when all criteria of this ideal are me. It all equates to “I’ll only be happy and healthy when…!” I promise you that, with such a mindset, that “when” isn’t coming! Ever!
We need to be happy and healthy right in the minute, and what’s more, we must encourage that mindset in our children.
We can begin by taking a conscious moment to check in with ourselves and each other and ask. “Is this affecting me directly today? Can I take charge of my energy and well-being? Is what I’m thinking a kind thought towards myself? If not, how might I change it?” There may be nothing more we’d like to do right now than fight the old. I’m sure all of us feel like we’ve got a good few punches in us as there are so many of us so tired of the incessant change, workload, and demand. But that is not the answer. Instead, we need to call on the concept of “evolutionary reconstruction” (Ref. Gary Z McGee) as an alternative to drastic resolution.
Before you act, listen! Everyone can benefit by expanding our ways of knowing – by challenging what is old through deeper hearing to determine what is healthy or unhealthy about old ways of doing things. Before you react, think! Accepting the mind’s abundant thought, and digging deep into it, rather than reacting reflexively is a sure way to reduce the short-term ephemeral nightmares of school policy change. Before you challenge others, challenge yourself! If we do what we always did, we get what we always got. Conforming, imitating, accepting, and obeying can be mindless conditioning, and to rise above it, we must be able to recondition the precondition through effective self-questioning. Before you accuse, forgive! Lots of us go through life assuming that we are right about nearly everything. “If being wrong is so natural, why are we all so bad at imagining that our beliefs could be mistaken, and why do we react to our errors with surprise, denial, defensiveness, and shame?” ~ Katheryn Schultz. Give others the room they need to grow and become healthy but realise that sometimes leading them to knowledge doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to use it in a healthy way. This is where consummate patience comes into play. Just be sure to continuously remind them of the wise words of Eliezer Yudkowsky, “You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.” While you create, give! “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
* Reference for the basis of ideas in evolutionary reconstruction….adapted for education and schools:
5 Ways to Focus Your Energy, Not On Fighting the Old, But on Building the New by Gary Z McGee
It’s a very different world since the dramatic life-altering sweep of the last few years. But even before the global transformation brought on by the pandemic, it was very different from the world I experienced as a pupil.
Implementing interventions can help to build a child’s self-worth, as well as their academic understanding. Children may be less willing participants in the learning process in the larger classroom environment.
I have been so privileged to work with children; I have learned so much from them. I am still privileged and still learning…or perhaps, in these enlightened days,