Taking it Personally

bearWithin a 2 week period recently I had a number of fairly confrontational conversations in which the other person became rather aggressive and were really quite angry during the exchange. These were somewhat upsetting experiences for me as they happened within a short space of time and because I had never really experienced such heated situations. I was fairly rattled afterwards and found self-doubt creeping in to find its customary abode (it’s always lurking in the shadows)!

Because I am highly aware of my own self-doubt and have become attuned to the situations, people and external conditions that allow this energy into my psyche, I am very reflective when I feel it arising.

I realised I was taking these encounters personally (it was hard not to after the third one) but when I stood back from the heat of the moment and the tears in the aftermath, I could see that in every situation the outburst by each person was caused by either familial stresses, frustration at someone else’s behaviour or being offended by someone else’s comments (that were in reality about something that had not even happened).

It actually had nothing to do with me. The causes were beyond my control.

In situations where we are beginning to feel offended, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson asks us to consider what may have caused that person to “bump” into us. These might be things such as ‘misinterpretations of your actions, health problems, pain, worries or anger about things unrelated to you…’ When I stopped to consider this I was able to put the confrontations in context and have compassion for myself as well as the other person involved. Compassion really does soothe a lot of stressors in our lives. It always makes me feel better and definitely stronger (contrary to some people’s perceptions who may see it as a weakness).

This week, be attentive to the times you are taking something personally. Ask yourself ‘What is the reality of the situation? What’s the bigger picture?’ Try to step back from the emotion and tendency to replay the confrontation over and over in your mind. Stop and breathe. Sit with the emotion and see what answers arise. Taking things personally weakens us – don’t fall for it, stay strong and witness the peace that results.

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The R Word.


typeIt’s that time of year for all Australian teachers where the temperature is rising (so too the blood pressure!), assessments are being marked, the children are tiring by the minute and I really need to make a start on my….(gasp) REPORTS! Here are some things you might like to try as you write your reports this year so that you do not need the first 2 weeks of Christmas holidays to recover:

1) Create (and stick to) a simple timetable for completion so that the workload is spread out over a few weeks and you are not leaving them ALL until the last minute and have to pull an all-nighter (not mentioning any names here but you know who you are). I write mine down to the wire in terms of when they are due but I never pull all-nighters – I’d never recover. I spread them out.

2) Try to work in 50 minute blocks of time with a 10 minute break in between each block where you leave the computer, rather than working for hours at a time. The break will refresh your brain and you will return clearer and re-energised and will actually achieve more in your time frame.

3) Fuel your brain with protein, good fats and loads of veggies. If you normally have a bowl of lollies and chocolates on hand to “fuel” you, try nuts, water or a healthy (green) smoothie to keep the fire burning longer. Sugar will keep you in a cycle of extreme highs and lows – we want stability and balance at this stressful time.

3) Get 8 hours sleep EVERY night (I am writing in capitals to myself here!)

4) Try and move your body every day, even when you are tired (especially when you are tired). It will relieve your tiredness and clear your head. Just aim for 15 minutes which is just over 1% of your day – totally doable. Yoga is great for bringing you back into your body after the mental activity required to write reports.

5) Keep your water intake up – this is my Achilles heel and people who know me are often surprised to learn I don’t drink enough water. I think it’s because I don’t want to wet my pants in the classroom ( I’m a long way from the toilet). But I know when I’m feeling foggy it’s because I’m dehydrated. My goal is 1.5 litres a day and herbal teas are great for upping the beneficial liquid (avoid juices and soft drinks – sugar laden!)

6) Maybe you could try writing your reports in a location you have never written in before e.g. at a cafe; down at the beach; in a park by the river – just tote your laptop. Sunlight causes the brain to produce endorphins which will lift your mood. Of course this may be a ridiculous notion if you are someone who needs paperwork or samples close by to refer to as you write but it’s just a thought – I know I could write my report comments in such a setting.

7) To bring your inner wisdom and true presence to the fore as you write, try a little meditation before each report writing session. This is as simple as 5 minutes of breath awareness with your hands on your heart and diaphragm.

Do you have any tips that you could share with us that might alleviate the stresses of report writing mayhem? We’d love to hear your ideas. Share here or on Facebook – oh I’m now also on Instagram @centred_teacher! Happy writing!

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Self-Nourishing Acts


I hope that many of you have spent a week being on your own side – this can simply be internally in terms of your self-talk and how long you stay with positive emotions and experiences but it might also be an external practice where you physically and spiritually nourish yourself.

I’m urging you to try the practice of scheduling in Self-Nourishing Acts throughout your week (or even every day!) that nurture your physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. I first heard of this term many years ago in the book Positive Energy by Judith Orloff MD however it is only this year that I have written a list of my own Self-Nourishing Acts and begun to schedule these into my week.

Self-Nourishing Acts (SNAs) are activities that help you to recalibrate, relax and renew your energy and purely experience pleasure in your life. Because of the pleasure derived from SNAs they calm the nervous system and quieten stress response hormones. They can lift your mood and give you a more positive outlook – particularly if you are stuck in the daily grind of: travel to work; work all day; travel home from work; make dinner for the family; put kids to bed and sit in front of the TV (or stay up doing school work). Then repeat.

It’s important that when you participate in a SNA that you savour the pleasure of it – with all of your senses. This will truly keep you in the present moment experience of it. Don’t rush through it, worrying about what you need to get done – let it sink in.

My own list of Self-Nourishing Acts is as follows:

  • Reading in the hammock ( or just laying)
  • Meditating
  • A long yoga session at home or on the beach
  • Yoga Nidra
  • A hot bath with a face mask
  • Massage (even self-massage can be nourishing – though I prefer someone else to do it!)
  • A cup of chai on my back deck with some dark choccy macadamias (and my dogs)
  • Time with a friend without our kids
  • Surfing before work
  • Paddle-boarding or bushwalking
  • Going to Kiva Spa / Sauna at Mullumbimby

Some of these are rare treats but others I schedule in regularly and they cost nothing and as you can see involve time alone (particularly important if you spend all day with a class of children and go home to your own children). They are things I love to do and know that I feel good after. I truly value them and they make me feel more alive – bringing me back to my centre and re-energising me.

Your list of SNAs may look very different as different things nourish different people. We are not energised by the same things but I would recommend some time in nature as part of your list. Once you devise your list and begin to schedule them in, really take note of how your body, energy and spirit respond. Maybe something that starts off on your list (something that you think you love to do) might need removing after you notice your reaction to it – maybe it actually drains you.

I encourage you to start your list of SNAs this week (there is a template to print off in the ‘Resources’ section of my webpage that you can use). Stick it on the fridge and tick next to each one when you participate in it to keep track of how often you are nourishing yourself with things you love to do. I would love people to share some of their Self-Nourishing Acts here or on The Centred Teacher facebook page: www.facebook.com/centredteacher. I’d love to hear what nourishes your body, mind and spirit.

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