#mentalhealthinourschools

Emotional Intelligence: Practicing the Art of Compassion

“Let our hearts be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

It is not always easy to love, to forgive, and to find compassion for our families and loved ones.  And it is even harder to love, to forgive, and to find compassion for our enemies.

Our enemies, it seems a harsh word. The dictionary defines an enemy as someone who is actively opposed or hostile towards us, someone we have verified as adverse or threatening, a challenger, a competitor, a rival, or our nemesis.  How often have you used these words to describe a friend with whom you had a falling out, an ex-partner or spouse, a family member you are no longer speaking to, a colleague who you avoid in the hallway, or who beat you to a promotion?  We often make these individuals our enemies. We spin scenarios in our brains of what we would like to say to them; if they would just apologize or understand why what they did was wrong, then we could get along again.  We avoid, we spin, we stay angry, we blame, we play the victim – and in all of these cases we fail to grow, we get into a rut, we hold onto an anchor that keeps us rooted in one place, we waste time, and we create internal pain and darkness.

Can We LEARN Compassion?

Yes. We can integrate practices into our lives that cultivate love, forgiveness, and compassion and teach us to be more aware of delivering these qualities under challenging situations.

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Are You Ready to Put Your Baggage Down?

Most of us have accumulated some emotional baggage. It may appear in the form of anger, shame, guilt, judgement or a variety of other “dark” emotions that weigh us down, prevent us from moving forward or cultivating a sense of well-being.  The weight of past trauma, choices made we later regret, words never said to a loved one who has passed, the secrets of our childhood that still cause us pain, addiction, abuse, a relationship we never healed – these are heavy burdens.

The Weight

Carrying this heavy emotional baggage around can create a barrier to making healthy lifestyle choices, can interfere with our significant relationships, keep us stuck in old habit patterns and interfere with achieving our professional goals and personal desires.  Holding on to this emotional burden has a direct and lasting impact on our well-being and how we show up in our jobs, in our relationships and with our families.

We may try to shove these “dark” and heavy emotional memories and wounds to the back of the closet believing that when they are buried and out of sight they are no longer impacting our lives.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

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Building Communities that Ignite Potential

There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests got together to work toward the same goal.

Idowu Koyenikan

The deeper I dig into my work with schools, the more I realize the need to bring tools for wellness, mental health and well-being beyond just the classroom and into the whole community and culture of the school. This includes everyone – teachers, staff, para-professionals, administrators, bus drivers, janitors, parents and families.  The mental health crisis we are now recognizing in our schools is not isolated to our children and our teens, I believe it is a poignant reflection of our society and culture at large.

It seems an overwhelming task in this light. How can we even begin to cultivate greater wellness, mental health and greater well-being, not only in our schools, but in our communities, our gathering places, and in our families? One step, one family, one community at a time. 

Imagine

Imagine the fire that could spread if we were all more daily conscious of not only who we are being, but what we are each doing to support the community around us? Imagine building communities that encourage the wellness and well-being of every individual, that ignite the potential of all of its members.

As I was contemplating this a question continued to arise: How do we create a culture of wellness and well-being? What are the components needed in a community to encourage personal growth, resilience, compassion, empathy, gratitude, innovation and inspiration? 

My thoughts…

6 Essential Components to Building a Culture Wellness and Well-Being

A Wellness Investment in EVERYONE. We cannot expect our children to embrace wellness practices if our teachers are not.  We cannot expect teachers to embrace wellness practices if school leaders are not. We cannot expect our children to communicate openly and clearly if their parents are not. Each and every member of a community must be afforded the opportunity to learn about wellness practices, practice them, and to be encouraged in an understanding of themselves and their potential for personal growth and well-being.

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