|Photo credit: Nora Doyle|
I am aware through social media, that many, many SLPs have already returned to school, some with considerable anxiety, some choosing silence, some already feeling battered. I thought perhaps some suggestions from the personal and spiritual perspectives were warranted.
Here are my thoughts, for better or worse. Truthfully, my anxiety often stems from a feeling of not being in control. In this context I sometimes enter into a power struggle. That can quickly morph into defensiveness between all parties. My strategy is, when I start to feel that anxiety rearing it's nasty head, I reframe my thinking to "What is the value of pressing my point," or "Why does that statement threaten me, what is MY thinking?" Shazam! Anxiety in check. This also allows me to practice acceptance of others as I choose not to control them or the outcome.
I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating; don't personalize. I practiced this one in earnest and experienced success toward the end of the year when a parent called me and SCREAMED at me for providing services to her child at his regularly scheduled time during the last week of school. This was a problem because his class was playing board games. I'm choosing not to go into the specifics because there is no value in dredging it up again. Suffice it to say, I was triggered by the assault, but was able to engage in self-talk that reiterated that the parent's behavior was about her. I was able to exit the situation with both my professionalism and grace intact by not personalizing. It works!
Our jobs can be a theatrical event. Sometimes the drama outweighs the educating. I do my level best to steer clear of the histrionics, gossip, and general *%$# stirring. When approached or drawn in I ask myself, "What is the value for ME in this conversation?" If there is no value, I listen with a compassionate ear and make my escape. Sadly, I am not always successful in avoiding the drama, but I am practicing and every day I become more proficient.
I know we are SLPs, but do we always have to talk? In the last year and a half I have been listening more and more. The benefit is, when I actually do have something to say, people listen. They begin to expect some sage suggestion, some speech language pathology chestnut. I don't like to admit it, but in the past my big 'ole ego would get in the way, and these days I know where my significance comes from and it ain't from the people at the table!
As recent as last school year, I found myself ruing Sunday night, getting anxious for the following day and the week to boot! I hear myself saying,"It's almost Friday," "Two more days," "Six more years." It occurred to me just this week that I'm not living for today! I'm not living in the moment! I'm wishing my life away! For what? I gave this some thought and tried to view it from a spiritual bent. I want to work for today doing kingdom work. I want to reframe my thinking so I'm not focused on working for "the man," but for the Lord.
To do so I must see every colleague, every student, every parent as a child of God. I once heard that we should look for Jesus in the eyes of everyone. Doing that on a cognitive level will go a long way in creating an atmosphere of peace where I can behave with compassion. Yeah, not always easy, but this thinking will keep from getting triggered and bearing down on myself.
I'm more optimistic for the new school year to start than I have been in years. Each start is becoming a little easier as I practice my hard won skills. I hope sharing my thoughts will help you approach the start of school with a new energy and a sense of peace and I wish all of you a wonderful 2015-16.