2017 Was a Springboard

2017 Was a Springboard

Hello Dear Reader,  

It’s been a long while -- since last July, in fact. I hope you continued to tap into P.E.T. help from other sources, like Larissa Dann, Kathryn Tonges and Gordon Training International

Thank you for forgiving my absence. So what was up with me?

I was pulled in various ways! For one, Claudia (14) and Jake (17) needed some extra support.

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I also hosted a P.E.T course and several refreshers at my home (where I have resumed control after our helper left to care for my in-laws in the US) in addition to leading several info sessions and Active Listening workshops around town. And I joined four P.E.T. instructors in co-teaching refugees these life-changing communication skills.


But the most significant challenge happened this fall, when my Youth Effectiveness Training course blew up in the first session!

Oh gee. I was in one of those "edge states," defined by Zen abbot and medical anthropologist Joan Halifax as "states where the individual’s identity is challenged." (Check out her interview here.)

I learned to be gentle with myself; I had to because I was sick to my stomach for a week. I required time as I licked my wounds and figured out how to make things right the next session, and all subsequent ones (three more to go). I reflected on why I had such a hard time forgiving myself and what my anxiety was, at core, about.

When I shared with a friend the painful lessons I was learning from working with this group of kids, she texted back: “I’m sorry your ego had a funeral.” (gentle smile emoji) She was joking, because she knew there was a big upside to a shake-up like that. I understood too but, boy, did getting to it hurt.

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Now I’m gratified that I have connected with these precious young people. And let me tell you, my empathy for educators has expanded a thousand fold! With every YET session, I got better at realizing my self-worth was independent of what I did or didn't do right. 

Given these stressors, my remaining energy was negligible. I put my blog -- which felt like another work obligation -- on the back burner and determined not beat myself up about it. I practiced saying, on numerous occasions to well-meaning people, "Thank you for asking, but I'm deciding not to." I also let more play into my life, savoring a novel and watching TV (check out Alive on the US History Channel.) For a perfectionist overachiever, that last decision especially took some self-cajoling. But it was smart:

Having fun is a form of self-compassion; just as we need to be kind to ourselves when we make mistakes, we also need to be kind to ourselves by enjoying life when we can.
— Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, page 99

My newfound congruence was marvelous; what I felt up for doing, I did!

2017 made clear that there’s no one better than me to take care of my own needs. Honoring limits allowed me to show up for my family, course participants and, most importantly, myself with presence and loving energy.

We're ten days into the new year and so far so good! I can't predict whether there will be another identity-reordering ego demise; if so, I don't think it will feel quite so catastrophic. For now, I am turning again to something I miss -- writing -- and look forward to reconnecting with you.

May 2018 be a springboard of sorts for your own personal growth -- one that might just take you to higher places.



Credits: Ram Dass quote (http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-when-we-practice-dying-we-are-learning-to-identify-less-with-ego-and-more-with-soul-ram-dass-124-10-67.jpg)