Being on your Own Side

own friend

As Rick Hanson PHD says

‘To take any steps toward your own wellbeing you have got to be on your own side. Not against others, but for yourself’.

In my observation and in my personal experience this is really hard for many of us. As teachers we are bombarded by information, at times overcome by expectations and periodically defeated by critical remarks in the media and even from those in our circle. We tend to just sigh and grumble to each other “Unless you are a teacher you don’t know what it’s like” (and in my view therefore cannot comment with any authority). But in general we tend to cop it on the chin. Many of us are raised to put others first (which is totally lovely) but without balance it comes at the expense of our physical and mental health and wellbeing and thus the energy we bring to the classroom.

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson asks us to think about what it’s like to be a good friend to someone and then ask: “Am I that kind of friend to myself?” Many teachers I know are incredibly hard on themselves and fairly dismissive of what they actually get done each day. We focus on what we didn’t get done and because there’s so much to do it can feel like what we do is never enough. But it is enough. You are enough. We are all enough.

You can’t serve others and be the positive influence you want to be if you don’t look after yourself and your own needs and be your own advocate. In my experience it is unsustainable and leaves you depleted and even resentful.

In what ways could you be a better friend to yourself each day? How could you cut yourself some slack and silence that inner critic? Could you celebrate small achievements more by holding onto that positive feeling they create? Truly experience the positive vibes rather than overlooking them? Could you say “no” more? Start being your own friend today.

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