A year ago I wrote this.
I am copying it in full at the bottom of this post because it is quite heavily referenced below.
It is one of my most read pieces of writing and was reblogged by the Mighty. It got a huge number of shares and comments on various platforms. Almost all were positive and the post seemed to strike a chord with many. The one that touched the deepest nerve was “wow, you slept til 5.15! Lucky you!” That was, for me, what I think is referred to as a trigger and I had to fight hard not to rise to it.
Today, a year on and I am in a similar but very different place.
Some of the actual stuff in the list has shifted. I have changed job and I am back in school, now as Head of Secondary. I am not putting myself in for the music festival this year. But much of the “stuff” and pressures are the same. The workload at school is immense. We have huge staffing pressures, massive issues with pupil mental health and further cuts and changes ahead. The personal financial pressures have not eased and neither has my husband’s situation.
The words “what else can go wrong?” have been a mantra but so have the words “we’ve survived before!”.
But the significant change has come in my outlook.
I have worked really hard to keep the mind tricks at bay. I have used writing as a way to keep my feelings in check. I have written an awful lot!
I am much better at not catastrophizing, (although at 8am when Steve informed me that his back had gone, there was a momentary relapse).
Over the summer I read a number of key books and more recently I have read “Frazzled” by Ruby Wax.
In the autumn, I did an online mindfulness course through FutureLearn. I have learnt amazing stuff about the brain and the relationship between body and soul.
I have engaged with educators who have helped me to realise that authenticity and a focus on wellbeing are not separate from raising attainment and closing gaps. Things like this keep me going: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-town-adopted-trauma-informed-care-and-saw-a-decrease-in-crime-and-suspension-rates-20170222?utm_content=bufferafceb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
I have found a tribe of likeminded educational souls and I feel supported, even though many of the tribe members are not in close geographical proximity.
I still fight the chimps, the demons, the internal voices that try and win from time to time. But on the whole I am winning. And you can too. It takes a bit of work but it is worth it. For those around you. For those you teach who will know when you are being authentic and will trust and learn from you because of it. But above all, for you.
I usually sleep well but today I have woken at 5.15 and can’t sleep.
There is fierce raging activity in my head that consists of a series of worries.
1. Something happened at work last week and I am worried that, although I know that I did the right thing, others may not see it like that.
2. I have to run a working party today with a range of colleagues and I fear that they won’t like me and that they will realise I don’t know what I am talking about.
3. When the meeting is over I will have to write it up and produce notes and actions but I have not put any time in my diary to do this.
4. I have training to deliver on Monday and Thursday next week and feel as per 2 but also haven’t planned the training yet.
5. I have entered a singing competition in 3 weeks and do not know any of the songs yet.
6. My daughter is still unwell after flu and has stopped eating properly.
7. My husband may have to stop working which may leave me with sole financial responsibility. And my cleaner has left.
8. I have woken up too early and will be exhausted today but have arranged to take my kids to see a live stream Shakespeare for three hours tonight but am now worried that I will go beyond exhaustion because of it.
I could actually continue with more but 8 is probably enough.
What to do? Give up? Ring the doctor? On paper, these things may seem trivial, over dramatic, irrational. But they feel very real.
But I can manage them. Because I have before. A useful exercise that I discovered before Christmas is to write them down, name them as feelings/ worries and then force myself to counteract them with what I KNOW.
1. I have lots of evidence of what really happened and I need to hold to that.
2. It is not about them liking me. I have done huge research, I have a plan, agenda and a clear vision which is to work with the team to improve outcomes for children.
3. I will write detailed notes in the meeting.
4. I have PowerPoints I can adapt and experience and ideas. It is not about me but about what my audience needs.
5. I can record the songs and listen to them as I drive.
6. I can’t control her or her eating.
7. We only a have to get through 2 years and things will improve. I do need a new cleaner, though.
8. University days. Frequent nights of 4 hours sleep. Baby days- ditto. Did I die? Nope.
Our minds can be devious and feelings and worries play tricks. But by getting them out, ordering them and challenging them, we can get through them.
Solution focus; we have within us the skills and experience to solve problems and face challenges.