Teachable moment fatigue

I love being in a classroom of adult learners. I am grateful for the diversity of culture, ethnicity, ability, academic readiness and spend a significant amount of time managing my expectations and looking for opportunities to inspire compassion and connection, knowing that my students are destined to be helpers.

However, this political climate has left many of my students and myself emotionally exhausted, often defensive of our personal leanings, and starved for discourse.

So what do I do when I’m feeling “teachable moment fatigue”?

I stop teaching.

I start listening.

And I take space from the hustle and bustle of the 24 hour news cycle and biased op-Ed pieces and choose to sit in the silence, listen to an audiobook, or crochet until my hands hurt.

Because as Anne Lamott says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

Healing and feeling

Healing requires feeling.

If you are in the midst of healing, odds are that you are experiencing a range of moods—-motivation, frustration, resentment, sadness, grief, impatience, excitement, hope, hopelessness, etc.

What you may not realize is that healing requires feeling your way through whatever has impacted or affected you. All of those feelings serve a purpose, and often do not appear in a linear way.

Healing ebbs and flows, and has the power to surprise and disarm. The feelings may change, grow or pass without warning, and yet it is important to honor whatever feeling arises as a guest in your experience.

Let the feelings settle (briefly), with the awareness that all of them are there temporarily, and if you feel them, then allow them to leave, you can learn the lesson they are teaching you, which ushers in more peace and self-awareness.

That is the healing.

Finding purpose and creating space

img_0725

Helping professions are based on service to others and in the Human Service “world” I discuss the layers of helping as they relate to the Ecological model of human services.

Human service professionals use this model to develop a broad understanding of each individual client, see the client in the context in which the client lives and functions, see how the client has interacted and is interacting with the environment, and to see how the environment influences the client’s choices.

The three levels exist as separate yet often intersecting entities.

Micro Level: where the focus is on the client’s personality, motivation, affect, and other personal attributes

Meso Level: where the focus is on the context immediately surrounding the client (family, church group, close friends, and work group)

Macro Level: where the focus is on the larger society’s characteristics and the way the client experiences these or the way these are brought to bear on the client’s situation (institutions and organizations such as the political system, social stratification, educational system, the economy).

So  I told you that story so I could tell you this story…

When helping someone, it is important to consider the person as they exist within the self, the setting/environment and how society has influenced their personal experiences. People who are struggling are rarely dealing with a solitary issue, but rather “problems in living” that can be based on a number of things.

So when you are in the role of a helper, it will be important to remember that the person who is seeking help is a multi-faceted being, who may be struggling in some areas that are not visible to you at the moment. So to be an exceptional helper, be sure to reflect on the person as a whole when considering how to help them.

If you have used your unique-helper-talents to assist, yet you see that the client or person you are helping needs something more, it is okay and often necessary to speak out your recommendations openly with a referral.

A referral is the best gift you can give someone!

 

Let them go…

One major life shift into adulthood is the desire to be with people who “see” you. People that see you as a whole person, the emotional, spiritual and connected collective-self.

The fulfillment often comes with releasing the relationships and friendships that do not serve you (or them) at the level of awareness and presence that you are operating on.

As you learn more about yourself and what you need, you will naturally shift away from those who do not experience the connection and clarity. This can be painful at first, as it seems that past practice requires people to stay overly committed to maintaining relationships even when they are no longer serving their purpose.

It is TOTALLY okay to let go of old friendships and relationships in the name of becoming who you are meant to become.

It order to pay respect to those relationships from the past, you should express gratitude for the lessons you were able to learn as a result of your time with those people.

Speak out the gratitude.

Feel the impact by noticing how the lessons play out in your present day, and reflect on those experiences with grace while wishing happiness and peace to those key players from your past.

Take all of that and share it with those who are a part of your life now.

Breakthrough

You are not broken, you are in the process of a breakthrough.

“That’s it, I’m broken!” A former student said this to me last week.

This person has survived more adversity and pain than the average student. I had been clued in to some of the details throughout the last few months, and checked in as I hadn’t seen them in awhile.

Turns out, the struggle continued, but this student continued to do their work, handle their business, and always presented with poise. Incredibly professional, this student kept it together (listing off the million of tasks and responsibilities still left to be addressed) until their cell phone smashed on the ground.

This wasn’t the average screen crack. This was the “fade to black” kind of smashed.

That’s what it took for them to speak the words that they had been keeping inside “I’m broken!”

After a few minutes of de-escalating the phone crisis (with a gentle reminder that this is why phone insurance and back-ups exist) I prompted the student to tell me why they feel “they” are broken. After all, phones are replaceable.

The response brought tears to my eyes.

“The only memories I have are painful. My day to day is filled with dealing with someone else’s pain. I go to bed in pain and wake up fearing what will get worse tomorrow.”

This is the point where Counselor-Mallory starts to organize the strategies and feedback to offer when it would be appropriate.

But then they looked up at me and said “but I remember when you said that often when one is experiencing pain and breakdowns, they are nearing a breakthrough. So to keep going, I keep waiting for my breakthrough.”

I wasn’t sure what to say (yes, me.)

So I smiled, and said— “get the phone fixed, and prepare for your breakthrough. It is coming.”

So, friends, change often follows a period of chaos. Pain will happen, so will grief. Yet we get to feel the relief and the joy that accompanies moving through difficult times.

So I hope that you welcome in your next breakthrough. If you want some support bringing it to light, or even understanding what you want it to be—-reach out to me. I’d love to help.

❤️

Mallory