Resilience – Digging Deeper Than We Thought We Could

Human beings possess what some researchers call a psychological immune system, a host of cognitive abilities that enable us to make the best of even the worst situation.

Lara Aknin, Jamil Zaki and Elizabeth Dunn, The Atlantic (July 2021)

We are capable of more than what we probably think we are capable of sustaining. Researchers Aknin, Zaki and Dunn conducted a review of close to 1,000 research studies examining hundreds of thousands of people across nearly 100 countries and they came to a conclusion:

We are remarkably adept at finding solutions to what might appear to be insurmountable problems.

THE MENTAL HEALTH CHECK

You’ve probably heard that the coronavirus pandemic triggered a worldwide mental-health crisis. This narrative took hold almost as quickly as the virus itself. In the spring of 2020, article after article—even an op-ed by one of us—warned of a looming psychological epidemic.

As clinical scientists and research psychologists have pointed out, the coronavirus pandemic has created many conditions that might lead to psychological distress: sudden, widespread disruptions to people’s livelihoods and social connections; millions bereaved; and the most vulnerable subjected to long-lasting hardship. A global collapse in well-being has seemed inevitable.

Lara Aknin, Jamil Zaki and Elizabeth Dunn, The Atlantic (July 2021)

Alarm bells were ringing.

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I’m Positive About Being Positive

I think I’m a fairly positive person.

I tend to stay relatively calm even when the seas are choppy. I try to look for the learning in a situation rather than creating a complaint when things don’t go well. I look for reasons when I see someone’s behaviour that is rude or negative. I try not to jump to conclusions by assigning intent when I really don’t know.

Babies are Positive When it Fits – Adults can Make a Choice

But, by no means am I perfect. I’m quite imperfect actually.

I have my moments of frustration and if you hang out around me often enough you will see me get a tad ‘grumpy’ every now and then. I get like this when when I’m especially tired or overwhelmed — or when everything around me seems to be an overly dramatic soap-opera.

Being positive is often a choice. So, I work to choose positivity whenever I can. I think better. I respond better. I know I make better decisions.

But, can one’s positive mindset actually make a difference in other areas?

  • Physiologically?
  • Emotionally?

Research seems to think so. We’ve all heard of the placebo effect and how someone with a positive mindset about a drug or therapy can help overcome a physical ailment of some kind. And while it might seem obvious, I went looking for some evidence to see if there is any link between a positive attitude and a better educational experience.

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The Survival Brain – Let’s Talk About Trauma

This post is about TRAUMA and how it affects us – all of us — whether we’ve experienced it ourselves or we know someone who has lived it.

I am by no means an expert on the topic, but as I have done dozens of times in my blog, I search out those who are expert and lean on their wisdom. The topic of trauma resonates with me — as a lived experience within my family, as a district leader, but more importantly, simply as a human being who is seeking to understand others and what they may be experiencing.

TRAUMA is often misunderstood — and sometimes not even considered as the possible underpinnings of a child’s behaviour. In education, we continue to explore trauma, how it can affect the classroom experience, and how we respond to it. We refer to this reflection and action as Trauma Informed Practice.

The Effects of Trauma can be Significant

I am hoping that today’s information might make you pause and reflect on an observed behavior that seems odd or misplaced — that you might instead take the path of seeking understanding.

The reality is that trauma affects all of us at some point in our lives — whether we’ve experienced it or seen it in others. When it does happen — how it affects us today and how it may affect us tomorrow can be different. This is another reminder to me that, as educators of children who may have experienced trauma, we need to remember that there is always a story behind the behaviour — whether it is trauma based or not.

So, when we see something that does not appear to fit, let’s pause and ask ourselves some questions:

  • Why do their actions seem out of step within the present context?
  • Why do they appear elevated / withdrawn / emotional / quiet / angry / sad?
  • Is there something I am doing that may be contributing to their current expression?
  • Am I being aware and present to the possibility that at this moment they may be having emotional responses grounded in traumatic experiences?

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