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.”

Say you’re sorry

Today in class my group counseling students were doing a practice group session around the topic of ‘fear’.

Each student wrote down a few fears in their lives and added them to the pile.

Not surprisingly, the ‘fear of failure’ (stated in one way or another) kept coming up, so we paused and dissected this a bit more. With several students (who are also parents) noting their fear was often centered around fear of failing as a parent. (🙋🏼‍♀️hi, all of you fellow parents out there) The other students were able to see the connection to their own parents, or how they will parent if that is where their lives lead them.

As they went around sharing, it was my turn to offer feedback and this is what I shared…

”Wow. I really screwed that up. I’m so sorry that I did that. Next time I’ll do ———.”(I say this phrase a lot!)

What you give your loved ones when you apologize is the space and affirmation that they are worthy of an apology.

Think about how important this is for the children in your life to see. When you screw up—- acknowledge it, own it, and explain how you will change your behavior next time a similar situation presents itself.

Modeling this behavior is critical in building their emotional intelligence and fostering empathy.

When you are wrong, speak it out. Own it, and move along ❤️

I am

Positive affirmation work is a delightfully easy way to focus on self-development. I prefer to use several throughout the day, and switch them up as the day unfolds.

I sit with my eyes closed, breathe mindfully and repeat the affirmation in my mind.

Try a few of my favorite, or make up your own.

Here are a few of my favorites (adapted from aimhappy.com)

I am a powerful force for good in the world.

I am on the right path. I am moving in the right direction.

I am worthy of all things wonderful.

I am being guided to what’s best for me and everyone else.

I am willing to see things differently, even if I’m not ready to yet.

I am learning to let go of fear.

I am learning to respect the process when I do not understand it.

I am ready to release the stories in my head and forgive myself for believing everything my inner critic has ever said.

I am grateful for who I am and can be.

I am enough and I have everything I need to get to where I want to be.

I am grateful for every gift that I’ve been given, have now, and have yet to receive.

“I don’t want to be seen as a fraud”

First week of classes in the new semester, and a student shared today that they are worried that they will be seen as a fraud who does not actually HELP.

This fear and anxiety exists within all helpers, regardless of the title or the license to practice. The anxious nature of not knowing what the client might need, or how to approach an issue is common at first.

So this turned into a larger conversation about authenticity, boundaries and reminding the client what they are, and what they are not.

We could all learn from this.

What are your roles?

What your limits?

What does ‘helping’ actually look like to this client?

Some clients may be slow to trust, and may require a lot of effort to engage and build rapport. This is okay.

It is imperative that the person you are helping understands that you are not there to pretend to care about their problems. Their problems are real to both the helper and the person being helped.

But the actual ‘help’ comes from teaching the client how to care for themselves. That is the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s not the mental load. It’s you.

I hear this saying all the time.

The “mental load”, which describes the invisible (yet pretty obvious to those afflicted) burden that is often attributed to being in or running a household.

Truth be told, I have felt the annoyance, exhaustion and frustration of having to remember, plan and execute each facet of my family’s day. It exists. But that’s not the point. Lots of things exist, but it only continues if you allow it to continue.

So, instead of “making lists to better organize yourself” and “ sending your spouse/partner step by step instructions- so YOU can relax” I’m going to suggest something radical and although it appears as a list, you don’t have to write one yourself, I promise.

-SPEAK YOUR TRUTH.

-HAVE A REAL CONVERSATION WITH YOUR SPOUSE/PARTNER.

-STOP CONTROLLING THE PROCESS

-UNLOAD AND THEN LET IT GO

Simple? Maybe not-depending on your relationship.

You are not a mind-reader, and neither is your significant other. Stop acting like a victim whilst angrily unloading the clean dishes or stomping around with a laundry basket.

Using “when you _____, I feel ______” to articulate how you feel and express what you need.

Shut up before you comment on how the tasks or chores get done. You don’t want to be treated like the boss, so stop dictating every move.

Once you’ve shared your piece, you have to let it sit for a bit.

If you choose to acknowledge the “mental load”, but refuse to address it, all you are going to do is further divide your relationship, and foster bitterness and resentment.

So instead, maybe try these strategies.