This world of ours seems to be fuelled by fear from all corners at the moment. Public figures resigning by the week because of the unreasonable pressure they are under down to parents like me worrying about the amount of homework I’m doing with my children versus another glorious hour playing in the Lego box. It makes me particularly wide-eyed that there is so much fear-talk in education at the moment. The place where the absolute bedrock of nurturing future generations can be gripped by the anxiety of not delivering targets, paralysed by planning pro-formas and drowned in layers of evidence collecting.
We are not our work and yet we are all juggling, spinning plates and pedalling like mad, down the unknown road ahead. The experience of life does not discriminate but that doesn’t mean we need to be afraid of it. And that alone, is for me, the ticket to a sense of belonging, worthiness and joy worth sharing.
I’m getting better at surfing! My way of saying how being more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, has changed my life immeasurably and made for a more relaxed and buoyant experience all round. I’m living proof that going with an uncomfortable feeling, rather than fighting, flighting or sucking up the downward spiral of shame, opens doors that were otherwise invisible. What I’ve come to realise is being uncomfortable is vital to developing a wholehearted perspective and a realistic mindset for life ahead in the resilience lane. The only lane on the highway to our future selves.
When we become threatened our body produces hormones and neurotransmitters to prepare the body for fight and flight. They make us feel physically uncomfortable, jittery and anxious. In actual fact, although tricky and antsy to experience, these feelings are real, human and tell us our bodies are working perfectly. The key point being that the effects of these chemicals only last about 90 seconds. Yes, only 90 seconds. That’s less than an Ed Sheeran song, shorter than the adverts on X Factor and less time than it takes to boil a kettle and make a cup of tea. It’s really not very long but we all know it can feel like forever, especially the first time and even more so when you’re watching it in your own unspeakably precious children. When the butterflies in your tummy, dry mouth, tight throat and pounding heart pass as they naturally will, the uncomfortable feelings will go too and calm, quiet clarity will replace them. This is the place where we find our problem solving skills come alive, we can see what it is that we don’t know and creativity leads us to answers ourselves. Natural learning and problem solving, without the need for as much support, panic or fear of failure.
Being Your Own Barometer
Recognising the feelings rumbling is absolutely key. All it takes is 90 seconds and those feelings will go. My 90 seconds are spent picturing waves. They come and they go. Before I know it the feelings have gone. The waters are calm, clear and still.
The more often we practise this ourselves and the more we develop this in our workforce, pupils and children, the greater the capacity for resilience. In a swipe and one-click World, I think this is a vital skill, not something to be saved for burnout and therapy. Something else I’ve learned? Resilience is natural. It’s innate and has been inside us all along. It just needs the opportunity to flourish by being nurtured, not numbed, over-supported or fended off.
Best of all, this natural human ability doesn’t have a price tag. It doesn’t cost a penny. In fact it’s about DOING NOTHING, being present in a moment and trusting in our authentic nature. Makes me wonder just how much money we could save in our systems. Simply by being who we are and not being afraid of our own experience.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay in touch.