All growth - personal, professional, physical, spiritual - starts with first noticing and paying attention to patterns or habits. Are you feeling “off” and not sure where to start? Are you dealing with anxiety and not sure about its source? Are you missing the fun and joy in life and don’t know how to find the happy? Any changes you want to make in your life must first begin with some assessment and examining a few essential details, like the what, when and why. Let’s play a little here, shall we?
Let’s say you are having a lot of blocks professionally - you can’t seem to get where you want to be, gain the recognition you are looking for, or develop the kinds of relationships you want to have. And you’re over it! You’re ready to get to the bottom of it and uncover the truth about WHAT is holding you back. It becomes obvious that it’s time to WAKE UP! So you start to do some digging - you’re paying attention to WHEN these blocks are showing up. You start to track the triggers - where you are, what you’re doing, who is around you, and what your reactions are. You are raising your own awareness because you know you can’t make any real shifts until you know WHY you are doing what you are doing. Here’s a super simplified version of that this could look like:
What: I can’t seem to grow/advance professionally.
When: This shows up anytime I am faced with a new challenge or feeling slightly doubtful about my abilities to succeed - basically anytime I am encouraged to push myself a little harder than normal or step a little outside my comfort zone.
Why: I’m standing in my own way because I feel that I am unworthy of success.
**I want to stress that this is an oversimplified example because it can seriously take someone years to get to this conclusion - years of tracking the triggers, paying attention to the self-talk, noticing patterns and habits, doing the deep reflection to understand it all, and then working consistently and with dedication to make those changes.
What: I am an introvert. I am meant to be alone forever.
When: I never go out or socialize with anyone. I go to work, give it my all, and then come home.
Why: I use my introversion as an excuse because, ultimately, I really feel that I’m undeserving of true love.
What: I am broke and am going to be broke for the rest of my life.
When: I feel like I am going to hyperventilate when I pay bills every month and it seriously feels like my entire world is going to crumble when something unexpected comes up - like a health issue or my car needs attention. I’m doing everything I can, and I work hard, but it’s never enough. I live month to month and most months I’m not even sure how I made it.
Why: I have made so many mistakes in my life. I haven’t done anything special enough to deserve living a rich, abundant life.
If you’re deepest desire it to have a beautiful house, find your life-long soulmate, travel to Bali, have better relationships with the people around you, give back to your community, or open your own business, then start first by looking at how you are currently approaching those visions of the future. If your immediate thoughts are “it’s never gonna happen” - then guess what?? It ain’t!
First think about an area in your life where you’d like to see some growth (personal, professional, spiritual, physical, financial, etc.). Lean into the area you are avoiding the most.
Next, ask yourself some serious questions and be really HONEST with your answers. You don’t have to share them with anyone - but you DO need to be utterly and brutally honest with yourself.
*Be as specific as possible. (I want a new job. I want to feel comfortable in my body. I want to fall in love. I want to learn how to meditate. I want to work better with my boss.)
Now, start to pay attention to every thought, reaction, emotion, and conversation that happens around this vision. Turn up the volume on that dialogue that’s been playing for so long you forgot it was still going. Listen to the tape (see Hack 19) - the negative self-talk that’s been on repeat for god knows how long. Don’t pass judgment; just listen. And listen to what you’re saying during conversations with others. Pay attention to how your body is physically reacting. Are you getting tense, sweaty, furrowing your eyebrows, clenching your fists? Just pay attention - but pay attention to every detail. They’re all indicators of the limiting beliefs you’ve boughten into.
Then, see if you can answer the What, When and Why. Realize that it might all come to you at once, or that it might come in increments. However it happens is perfectly okay - but don’t stop the discovery process until you can honestly answer all them.
Once you can answer all of them, Congratulations! Now the BIG magic happens! (And that is also an entirely different blog post...)
What I really want to dig into here is a matter of racial equity and implicit bias.
Didn’t think I was gonna go there, did ya?
Work with me here. And promise to keep an open mind, okay?
The majority of our nation’s educators are white cis female. Often times, we are the ones working in schools where the student population are majority-minority. How do we connect then? Do we really believe that their life experiences are just like ours? Sure, we can connect over a common struggle, if there is one, but it is absolutely not the same.
Disconnection can start the second a child of color walks onto a campus with majority white educators. There is no one around them that looks like them. No wonder there are so few educators of color - they didn’t have any examples to refer to when they were in school.
We cannot change the color of our skin. But we can evolve our awareness around our implicit bias, the perceptions we have, and the way we treat people because of it. And if you’ve decided to step foot into a classroom or on a school campus and be a role model to the youth on that campus, then it is essential that you take that BOLD move to learn more about what YOU are bringing into that space every day. We always talk about the baggage our students are bringing to school. What about OUR baggage? You’re in complete denial if you think you’re leaving it at the door. In one way or another, you are bringing it in and its impacting your ability to make a difference.
I’ve included some great resources for you to begin uncovering your implicit bias. And if you want some more personalized and individualized attention on this, then step into the BOLD Educator Program with me. We will go there. And you’ll be forever grateful for it.
Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
Code Switch, an NPR podcast hosted by Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji.
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