The only thing that is constant is change. These words ring just as true 1,500 years after they were first spoken by Heraclitus in ancient Greece.
My love for Greek philosophy aside…my career has taken some very dramatic twist and turns over the past 3 years and I’ve had to adjust a lot to keep moving forward.
Those of you in education know just how difficult it has gotten…
I don’t know about you guys, but there are some days I feel like I got run over by a Semi truck and then there are days that seem like the semi driver keeps backing up and driving over me again, and again, and again…
So how do we keep on keep’n on when staying in bed with the covers over our head isn’t an option???
I had this question in the back of my mind while I read What’s Under Your Cape by Barbara Gruener. (For those of you who don’t know Barbara, she’s the guru on all things Character Education & runs the blog Corner on Character.) Click on the image below to get an autographed copy!
In her book, Barbara shows us how we can tap into our inner superheroes to bring out the superhero in our students. The book is filled with tons of great ideas and examples that show how we can weave character education into the school day and empower our kids.
What’s Under Your Cape left me feeling really pumped about providing my students with skills that will help build their resilience against the bumps in their life path.
Which naturally kept me thinking about how I could navigate the bumps in my path. How could I tap into my inner superhero and come out stronger???
Just as my dear friend used the acronym SUPERHEROES to map out character ed in her book, I decided to map out my SUPERHERO flight plan for when times get to be challenging.
Below you will find the super powers I call on to keep my force field of positivity activated!
I was really tempted to have this “S” stand for “Stay Positive.” But I know “staying” positive is much easier said than done.
So what do you do when you’re too pooped to pop? -> Face it till you make it…well, kind of…
Although fake smiles have been proven to be helpful, I prefer the genuine article. For that, all I need to do is think about a favorite memory for a few seconds.
Memories that call on multiple senses are usually the most effective in creating a sense of well-being. Think of it as over-riding your brain. When you recall memories with sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste you force the brain to use more neural pathways than when recalling a more basic memory.
Pretty cool, huh?
One of my go-tos is thinking about a summer day at the cabin. The sweetness of eating cold ice cream in the hot sun, the laughter of my kids, the chill of the lake in early June…
Another one I use a lot is reading with my mom…sitting in her lap, the sound of her voice, the smell of the books…
Positive memories don’t have to be fancy – just something you enjoy. 🙂
U – Unity
You will not survive long in your career if you’re running around like a lone wolf. Humans need companionship and negative feelings are typically more intense when we feel cut off from others.
I get that sometimes we isolate ourselves to shield us from negativity. But I can just about guarantee that there is someone in your building that would love to spend their time drama free as well.
I challenge you to find them!
While there’s no substitute for face-to-face fellowship, you can find a lot of support from fellow counselors and educators on Facebook. There are great groups for elementary counselors, middle school counselors, high school counselors, play therapists, bibliotherapists, and special education!
P – Personal Best
We can only do our personal best. However, that can change day-by-day and fluctuate moment-to-moment.
Have a heart-to-heart with yourself to make sure you’re doing your personal best.
Sometimes my personal best involves take-out and a Netflix marathon. After all, we have to recharge our batteries sometime, right?
The keyword is “sometime.” Use your time wisely and put your best foot forward. I don’t know anybody that regretted doing their best, but I think just about all of us have regretted taking the easy way out.
In the end, there is no easy way. Our jobs are demanding and stressful. Consider it par for the course and embrace the fact that even on our off days, we are making a difference in the lives of children!
E – Expect the Unexpected
I think change can be hard when we become comfortable in our day-to-day.
When things don’t go the way we think they should, we experience what’s called cognitive dissonance. -> Our thoughts don’t jive with what’s going on in the world around us and we are forced to make sense of it all. This causes stress and feelings of unrest.
Here’s the good news…
We can train our brain to expect change and come up with a way to guide/check our decision-making process. We’re able to stay on course mental because we anticipated/expected the change and our brains didn’t have to go into freak-out mode.
Our perception of an event changes how we feel about that event.
My district is surrounded by lakes so most kids have been to the water if not in an actual boat so I share the following story with them when I teach about how we perceive the same event differently based on our attitude.
Imagine your canoeing down the river and another boat slams into you from behind. Would you be upset? (A lot of my kids agree or share they would be scared.)
Next, I ask them if they would be as upset if it was a 90-year-old woman who lost an oar? (They say not as much since she lost control or might need help.)
Then I ask them how they would feel if nobody was in the boat because it had gotten loose and drifted into them. (Their responses vary on this last one. It’s usually somewhere between not caring at all to being upset that someone wasn’t responsible for taking care of their boat.)
Do you find a common negative thought pop up in your mind when you’re faced with a major change? Try to create a positive affirmation that you can repeat to change your mindset. I plan on putting my affirmation cards and posters in my teacher’s lounge this school year. You can check them out here or by clicking on the image below. 🙂
R – Relax
Whether it’s 5 minutes of meditation in your office or 5 days in Mexico, you NEED to make time for yourself.
I like the analogy of a piece of notebook paper. It has margins to give the eyes a place to rest. When we don’t give ourselves a place to rest in our schedule we become too busy and overcrowded, just like a sheet of paper.
Be sure to create those margins in your life! Healthy boundaries are just as important for us as it is for our students. You can read more about setting boundaries by saying no here.
H – Healthy Choices
It’s more important than ever to make healthy choices when we are going through challenging times.
Drinking water, eating healthy food, and exercise will pay off big time. One the flip side…sugary drinks, fast food, and skipping workouts will only make bumps in the road more difficult to bear.
I try to set myself up for success by keeping a stash of healthy food and make a few laps around the track at recess.
I also try to take my kiddos outside when the weather’s nice to teach them noncompetitive games. I’m pretty sure it does just as much good for me as it does for them!
E – Enjoy the Ride
We all went to school to work in education & we’re here!
It may not be ideal, but there are 1,000s of people who would love your job. In my district, 100s of applicants apply for one job posting. The competition is fierce!
We’ve made it and now it’s time to make the most of it!!!!
R – Remember the Reason
We work in education so we can touch the lives of children. Enjoy being able to be a part of their life story!
We care an awesome responsibility and nobody promised us it would be easy.
Focus on the positive by keeping a smile file!
O – Only One Person
Counselors and teachers have a horrible habit of wanting to do it all and do it perfectly.
Remind yourself that you are only one person. You are not a magician. You are not responsible for fixing life and all the problems found therein.
When you can’t get to the big things, remind yourself that it’s the little things that matter most!
What do you think? How do you keep your cape on straight during turbulent times? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Want to assess your inner super powers? Download this free printable !
I would love to hear how you keep soaring when times get tough in the comments below!