Big Idea: Perfectionism is rooted in fear, not the desire to pay attention to details.
According to Brene Brown, “When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver.”
It’s human nature to judge, to classify, to compare. It’s how our brains simplify their work load to use less energy. However, when we compare to ideals in our journey toward perfection, that leads to feelings of inferiority. In the end, we are afraid of what we’ll find on the other side of comparison.
Perfectionism is holding yourself to an outside ideal that can’t ever really exist because the world is constantly changing. Inferiority is the discrepancy between two internal concepts: the ideal self and the real self.
Either way, it’s an emotion that occurs when we hold ourself to a higher (unreachable?) standard. Some people are more susceptible and I believe a lot of it has to do with our upbringing which is based on societal standards.
The trick is to do your best - and that means do your day’s best, not your best best, every day. Then, give yourself grace if the results don’t match whatever standard you expected to meet.
With little kids, everything they do is amazing. What happened as we grew older?
This week, try this: Check out this list of 7 Crucial Things You Can’t Be Afraid to Do and see how you feel. If you are like me, you started hearing that annoying little anti-joy voice in your head getting louder with each one. As Tony Horton, the trainer of P90X, says, “Do you best and forget the rest.”
Quote: "At its root, perfectionism isn't really about a deep love of being meticulous. It's about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success." ~Michael Law
Educator Resource: Art Therapy in the Classroom - 25 Ideas. As an artist myself, I find a lot of therapy in practicing art, and I know that everyone finds it calming no matter what their skill level. I recently witnessed hundreds of teachers making little paintings of snow people, and everyone was fully invested. I firmly believe art should be in school.
Dad Joke: What's the leading cause of dry skin? Towels.
I hope you get pie and avoid the spiders!
Big Idea: Exercise should not be underrated as a tool for your mental wellbeing.
The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw a video interview of a psychologist about the importance of muscles in mental health. She said that when you contract your skeletal muscles (the ones you can control), they release a ‘hope molecule’ that increases your sense of wellbeing.
I then listened to the whole episode of The Model Health Show and am now ready to go down the rabbit hole of the effects of exercise on mental health and how modern adults and kids are too sedentary, and this lack of movement is the ultimate physiological cause of the spike in mental health issues.
One guest (Dr. Kelly McGonigal) said that there are two equally effective treatments to amp up the reward system in your brain: going for a walk and surgically implanting an electrode in your brain. Which would you rather do?
Being the skeptic that’s often preaching about looking at both sides of an argument, I tried googling various permutations of “Negative effects of exercise on mental health.” The only thing it could come up with is that exercise can sometimes be addictive and people can go overboard.
This week, try this: There doesn’t seem to be a consensus about how much exercise is enough, although there are several big studies that mention 10,000 steps daily which is I guess why FitBit keeps me stepping toward that goal each day. Maybe start by following another article today that mentioned 11 minutes per day.
Quote: "Exercise can not only ward off the ill effects of chronic stress, it can also reverse them." ~John J. Ratey, MD
Educator Resource: Indoor Games - There are 21 games ‘for youth and teens’ on this website that features some classics like Knots and Simon Says as well as some I’d others, like Messenger (get ready for a mess!).
Dad Joke: Why did the chicken go to the gym? To work on his pecks.
It's March. Get out and march!
Big Idea: Forgiveness is 100% for you and not the other person.
Ryan Wamser, my partner in crime in this SEL Hub thing, and I have been presenting an all-day workshop for administrators centered around Leadership Lesson from the Ted Lasso show. One of the lessons is about the power of apologies and forgiveness.
I’ve learned that they are two completely separate events, and an apology does not necessarily require forgiveness.
Forgiving is hard.
Forgiving means that you have come up against a ‘no’ - something died.
Maybe an expectation, an idea of perfection, or an understanding died and it caused pain. The person who caused the pain is responsible for the apology. But you, as the bearer of that grief is the one who has the choice to forgive - to be OK with the new normal and to be able to move forward.
And sometimes, you have to re-forgive. The time required to lessen the pain may be too long for one bout of forgiveness.
Regardless, being able to move on is freeing. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, not a payment to another for their apology.
This week, try this: The next time you have to apologize, please don’t ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness can’t be given and it can’t be forced. There is a difference between forgiveness and absolution.
Quote: "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." ~Lewis B. Smedes
Educator Resource: Playworks - A nonprofit that believes that play is essential to learning. They have staff training, access to official Playworks Coaches, and be sure to check out their Game Library and find a Playworks near you. I was reminded of this resources by an attendee in one of my workshops this week. I had the honor of interviewing the founder, Jill Vialet, on the Teachers’ Classroom Podcast. Find it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
Dad Joke: Scrolls were replaced by books. Now we scroll through books on tablets.
Big Idea: The opposite is also true.
Since Niels Bohr was a physicist, I’m sure he was thinking about truths like light and gravity.
What about in the realm of our emotions?
Think about the concept of ‘Tough Love’, where what’s loving is to hold people to a standard and expect their best. The opposite is also true, where the loving thing to do is to create space and empathy.
If the human race is ever going to get along, we need to understand that for what we hold as The Truth, someone else may believe the opposite to be The Truth. Who are we to say which is actually correct? Why can’t they both be true?
It’s sort of like pain. What’s joyful for me might be painful for others. Pick a holiday: for some people, they’d rather a particular holiday were struck from the calendar. Neither is right. Who am I to say that someone else’s pain (or joy) is not real and valid?
This week, try this: The next time you come up against a strong emotion, take a minute to examine its opposite and how some people may hold that as their truth.
Quote: "A deep truth is a truth so deep that not only is it true but its exact opposite is also true." ~Niels Bohr
Educator Resource: Educating Mindfully Conference - (EMCON) - Coalition of Schools Educating Mindfully (COSEM) is hosting their 5th Annual Educating Mindfully Conference (EMCON) on March 10-12, 2023 with a focus on healing, resilience, mindfulness, SEL, equity, and inclusion. COSEM is also hosting a Resource Showcase on March 9 that is free-to-all. Learn more and register at educatingmindfully.org!
Dad Joke: A piece of cherry pie costs $2 in Jamaica and $4.45 in Barbados. Those are the pie rates of the Caribbean.
Big Idea: How you are in your relationship with yourself determines how your relationships with others are.
If you are compassionate with yourself, you have the ability to be compassionate to others. Likewise, If you are fierce with yourself, you are probably fierce with others.
But, Matt! I was raised to put other people first.
Yup. I was, too. But loving yourself isn’t a selfish act. I would argue that it’s a prerequisite to loving others. Loving yourself gives you the awareness and understanding of what love is. Then you can extend it to other people (and pets!)
But, Matt! I read self-help books and listen to self-help podcasts all the time, and still feel like I can’t be truly loving to other people.
There’s a difference between self-love and self-help. Try working on self-acceptance first. Then you’ll have the capacity for improvement.
This week, try this: The next time you extend yourself grace or are proud of something you’ve accomplished, I’ll bet there’s this little inner critic that tries to negate your good feelings. Talk back! Ask that little devil to cite their sources!
Quote: "Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have." ~Robert Holden
Educator Resource: New Directions in Education Conference - Trauma & SEL & Schools. Keynote Kristin Souers (author of Fostering Resilient Learners) and the rest of the experts will be here all day for workshops and breakouts. Come learn from the best in Collinsville, IL on June 7, 2023. FREE thanks to the ISBE Hub 5 SEL Grant
Dad Joke: I accidentally drank a bottle of invisible ink. Now I'm at the hospital waiting to be seen.
Happy Valentines Day! May you do your part in keeping the sugar industry up and running. :) If this was forwarded to you, and you’d like your own copy, sign up here.
2/13/2023 0 Comments
JumpStart Oatmeal Monday (2/6/23)
Big Idea: Control freaks and the role of suffering.
An Open Letter to Control Freaks Everywhere:
It’s human nature to judge, categorize, and compare. It’s also human nature to be feel unhappy. Could there be a connection?
This last weekend, I went to the beginner yoga class that my wife teaches every Saturday morning. (Spoiler Alert: she kicked my *$$)
As I lay on my mat during her intention-setting session at the beginning, I noticed that instead of listening with an open heart, I was listening for what I disagreed with, for what I would have done differently.
My action was so wrong on so many levels.
Pema Chodron also says, “You should never have expectations for other people. Just be kind to them.”
How many times a day are you disappointed because something or someone didn’t meet your expectations? Where did those expectations come from? A bias? A judgement? A comparison to something or someone else?
This week, try this: The next time a student’s behavior disappoints you, ask yourself, “What pre-conceived expectation did I have for this student? Where did it come from? Why do I even have one?”
Quote: "Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different from the way they are." ~Pema Chodron
Educator Resource: EVERFI - Social & Emotional Curriculum - EVERFI uses community partners to fund their work, so it’s always free. As a tech coach, I used to recommend these resources to everyone. It had been a minute since I’d explored their offerings, and I see they have a whole section of SEL courses for ALL grade levels.
Dad Joke: 6:30 is the best time on a clock. Hands down.
February is here! That’s snow day month. If this was forwarded to you, and you’d like your own copy, sign up here.
Big Idea: If you can't love yourself, you can't love others.
I have a tattoo on my back of the kanji symbol for tranquility. To me, inner peace is a quintessential necessity for personal contentment or happiness. If individuals strive for personal tranquility, I would bet the world would be a lot more peaceful.
I’ve read that the same is true for love: If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love others.
What about self awareness? I would bet that the more self aware you are, the more empathetic you can be. I think it would be hard to recognize and understand emotions in others if you haven’t first recognized and understood them in yourself.
People talk about how this inner work of becoming more self-aware is selfish - we don’t have time for that because certainly there are more important things in our lives.
But is this true? As educators in a helping profession, I would argue that self-work is a prerequisite.
This week, try this: The next time you feel disgust or hate or fear in regard to another person, take a moment (even if it’s hours later) and do an inner dive as to why you felt that way. I wonder if it’s because you don’t like the same/similar quality about yourself?
Quote: "If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else." ~Marvin Gaye
Educator Resource: ParentABLE - FREE for SY23-24! - Is your 8 - 12 curriculum looking for evidence-based parenting/childcare content? I would highly recommend ParentABLE’s 10-day unit that fits nicely into other SEL, families and childcare, early childhood, etc. curriculum. If you have started a pipeline for future teachers in your high school, this should be an essential unit.
I had a conversation with the founder and CEO, Katharine Bensinger and published it on our podcast. In it, she talks about their P.A.R.E.N.T. philosophy and how their perspective shifted during COVID.
Dad Joke: I don't always whoop. But when I do, there it is.
May this last week of January be the most peaceful one. If this was forwarded to you, and you’d like your own copy, sign up here. ~Matt
Big Idea: We need to be mindful of the two definitions of 'surrender'.
I’ll be you’ve seen t-shirts that exhort you to ‘never surrender!’ And then there are quotes like the one above implying that your best life will be when you surrender.
Surrender can mean not giving up or giving in despite what others want you to do. This is admirable.
It’s also admirable when you can let go of control, of the need for answers, of the need to understand and just… be. This is also surrender.
I was teaching aspiring yoga teachers this last weekend about breathwork and we talked about how the inhale enables more space and the exhale intensifies the feeling of surrender.
This week, try this: When you are feeling closed in or pressured, try sitting up straight and taking in a long, slow breath. Focus on the space that is created within you. When you are feeling overwhelmed and scattered, try taking in a big breath and then slowly let it out, focusing on letting go - of surrender to what is right now.
Quote: "Surrender is the inner transition from resistance to acceptance, from no to yes." ~Eckhart Tolle
Educator Resource: Communities of Practice - FREE! - Are you looking to transform your school or district? Joining a conversation that is starting soon around Illinois can help jumpstart the process of transformation. There are several to choose from, including whole-school trauma programming, classroom strategies, staff self-care, whole school prevention planning, community context, and whole-school safety planning. Applications due January 30. Brochure
Dad Joke: A wizard asked me to proof one of his scrolls last week. Actually, it was more of a spell check.
It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to surrender. I hope that you can find space to practice it just a little bit this week. Have a great one! ~Matt
It’s also Appreciate a Dragon Day and the start of No Name-Calling Week. It’s gonna be a great week! I think my goal this week will be not to eat an entire sleeve of Fig Newtons in one sitting. #babysteps
Big Idea: It's OK to not feel confident 100% of the time.
You’ve probably noticed this at school:
People who talk about themselves a lot are really the most insecure, while the people who go about their business are generally quiet about their personal lives.
Lack of confidence shows an abundance of fear.
Fear of ridicule, fear or not showing up, fear of failure.
If we want to fight a fear (or one of the ways it shows up, like low self-confidence), we have to strive toward its opposite. Some say the opposite of fear is love. Others say it’s knowledge and understanding.
I say the opposite of fear is safety because you can’t feel love and you can’t learn to understand until you feel safe.
If you’re going to be confident, you have to feel safe in your environment, safe with your community, and safe in your own self. What to work on first? That’s your call - just make the decision with confidence and stick to it.
This week, try this: The next time your confidence lags this week, notice your body. What is your posture like? How has your breathing changed? What are you feeling in your gut? Try changing any of those symptoms, and your outlook will change as a result.
Quote: "Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud." (Google can't agree on the original author)
Educator Resource: 9 Self-Confidence Building Activities for Students - Some good ideas that can easily be adapted to any age (well, some of them require writing and reading). I also love that the last activity is yoga and this isn’t even a yoga website!
Dad Joke: Originally, I wasn't going to get a brain transplant. Then I changed my mind.
There’s a 100% chance that MLK had times of low self-confidence. We all do. If you feel unsure about your role at school, someone had to believe in you or you wouldn’t have a job. #justsayin If this was forwarded to you, and you’d like your own copy, sign up here.
1/20/2023 0 Comments
JumpStart Word Nerd Day! (1/9/23)
Also, No Pant Subway Ride Day, 4th Graders Day, and Cassoulet Day. Oh, and Apricots Day, which I'm a fan of, as long as they are not those Mediterranean kind. Since when did those tasteless things become mainstream? Also, for you word nerds, a cassoulet is a French Stew with beans and meat, and the 'quintessential winter entrée'. Yes, please!
Big Idea: Remain flexible so that you do not break.
There’s just so. much. this week!
Maybe I did a good job of handling all the inputs before Christmas. Maybe I am still in vacation mode.
All I know is that this last week, it seems like every project I’ve ever touched needs attention.
The object now is to avoid overwhelm. In working toward that goal, I’m thinking about how bending on a couple of choice projects and deadlines won’t be the end of the world. They’ll still get done, just not on my original timeline. And that’s OK.
I think it’s better to be flexible on some things - the things where I can take a step back and determine that what’s causing me stress is a self-imposed deadline or a boundary that no one will really notice if I shift it a bit.
This week, try this: Are your New Year’s resolutions starting to chafe? Maybe you need to look at making them less strict and more flexible. For example, instead of saying I’m going to run 3 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, maybe say that you’re going to do something active 3 times per week.
Quote: "The reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm." (Confucius)
Educator Resource: 3 Transitions for Elementary Kiddos - Last week, someone emailed asking for short (<4 minute) yoga videos to use as transitions for elementary students. I couldn’t find any either. Even if they do exist somewhere, you’ll use up precious seconds finding and queueing up the video when you could just be leading the yoga/breathwork transition yourself. WHAT? MYSELF? Yep! Start with this script and modify it as you get more comfortable. There’s one for energizing between activities, one for preparing to travel somewhere, and one for when they’re back in the classroom.
Dad Joke: What do you call security guards working outside Samsung shops? Guardians of the Galaxy.
Have an excellent rest of your day and week. Let me know if there is a resource you’d like to see (Yes, I realize they’ve been heavy on the elementary side recently. I’ll work on that!). If this was forwarded to you, and you’d like your own copy, sign up here.
SEL Coach Matt Weld creates and delivers in-person and online SEL-related content.