Don't take it Personally


I am proud welcome my friend Angela Watson to the blog today. Angela has been offering amazing free resources and ideas to readers of her website TheCornerstoneForTeachers.com long before most of us bloggers joined the scene.  She was a classroom teacher for eleven years, and currently works as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in New York City. She has recently published her second book and has generously offered to give away copies of both books to one lucky reader! The excerpt below will draw you in, I'm sure. It certainly spoke to me! Giveaway details follow the excerpt.
Enjoy,
Photobucket







The following passage is excerpted and adapted from Angela's book Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching, which provides teachers with practical strategies for adapting a positive, flexible, and resilient mindset:
  How to stop taking things personally 
     I remember once I had spent a great deal of time creating resources for a colleague and walked into her classroom to deliver them. I was grinning from ear to ear as I held up the stuff I made. The teacher was sitting at her computer and barely looked at me. "Just put it on the table. Thanks." Understandably, my feelings were a little hurt. Had I done something to upset her? Did I misunderstand what she wanted me to do? What had I done wrong? I tried to put the incident out of my mind, said a quick prayer that she'd feel better about whatever was bothering her, and reassured myself that I probably hadn't caused the problem.
    I passed her in the hallway later that day and she stopped me. "Hey, Angela, I'm really sorry about this morning. My mom's in surgery today but I don't have any personal leave left so I couldn't be with her, and I'm so distracted. On top of that, the principal said she wanted report cards done by 10 a.m. today instead of tomorrow, which means I had to work on them during class. The buses were late this morning so kids were trickling in for like an hour and acting crazy. It was a BAD morning." She sighed. "But thanks so much for bringing that stuff in, I appreciate it." There I was trying to figure out why she was acting coldly toward me, and her mom was in surgery. It wasn't about me at all!
     Isn't that usually the case? We have no way of knowing all the personal struggles people are going through. There are any number of trials and problems affecting the way they act. Health issues, family conflicts, marital stress, and financial problems are often unknown to us but shape people's very character sometimes. The same holds true for our students. Children who are disrespectful, obnoxiously attention-seeking, or totally indifferent are not necessarily acting that way toward you. Though your actions and classroom climate affect children's behavior, kids respond from all sorts of
unimaginable life situations and mental habits. Most kids don't have a grasp on metacognition (the ability to think about their thinking) and have all sorts of thought processes that create extreme, unpredictable behaviors. Students who appear not to like or respect you may be feeling the exact opposite but have such unhealthy mindsets that they can't express and control themselves appropriately. Regardless, how they feel about YOU is undoubtedly just one piece of the puzzle, so don't take their behavior personally!
     Recognize that the way people treat you is mostly a reflection of how they feel about themselves and their own lives. Then when a colleague or student treats you poorly, choose not to take it personally. Remember, you won't necessarily feel like giving them the benefit of the doubt—you will likely feel hurt or angered. But in choosing to live above your feelings, you can make a wise decision that you will not take setbacks to heart.

       Here are 5 strategies you can use to 
stop personalizing problems: 
1) Gather the evidence to see if you can support your conclusion that there's a real problem and it's about you. Ask yourself these questions: Is this really an issue, or am I creating it in my own mind? Is there any proof that this incident was truly about me or something that I did? Is it possible that the truth will surface on it's own and the situation will resolve itself if I don't react immediately?

 2) Start each day with a strong foundation and set your intent. Tell yourself, Today I will be aware of other people's struggles and not take their behaviors personally if they act in ways that are potentially offensive. I will actively look for ways to help meet the needs of students, colleagues, and parents so they're in a better place emotionally. Sometimes I like to remind myself of wise sayings like the infamous, "Hurting people hurt people" or Plato's "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

3) Work on your own self-awareness. As I began building awareness of my own distorted thought patterns, I started to recognize those habits in others, too. Then when people did things that could potentially hurt me, I'd be able to think, Oh, this person has a problem with clinging to preconceived expectations and making presumptuous judgments, just like me! Her words weren't anything against ME, they're a reflection of her own issues! In that moment, I'd understand why the person had said or done something offensive and it wouldn't bother me as much. The stronger I become emotionally, the less other people had the power to hurt me.

4) Remind yourself that people are busy and often thoughtless in their hurry. They're thinking about what they need to get done and not about how their actions affect others. And by "people," I mean all of us. If you've ever inadvertently cut someone off while driving and only noticed the car after it was visible in your rearview mirror, or pushed ahead of someone in line without even seeing them standing there, then purposefully recall those memories when you feel insulted. Were YOU trying to make an arrogant statement that your time is more valuable than everyone else's, or were you just wrapped up in your own thoughts and oblivious to the present moment? Assume the same of others.

5) Once you get good at this, get really radical and start thinking about what you can do to make others' lives better. You might think: Wow, my team leader's tone was very short in that email about not having made our copies for this week. She must be stressed out. What can I do to lessen her load? Maybe I could offer to make the copies next week. Or maybe: This parent wants a list of objectives for the lesson I just taught. Instead of feeling like she is attacking me and questioning the value of the activity, maybe I could offer to show her where my lesson's corresponding state standards are listed online. She needs reassurance that her child is making progress and getting prepared for the next grade. I get that. I'll provide her with as many tools as possible to make her feel good about how much her daughter is learning. I'm glad she cares enough to ask questions— many teachers would love to have this problem!


Angela has offered to give away a copy of Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching AND a copy of her newest book, The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators to one reader of Sunny Days! Here are the book descriptions:
 
Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching provides simple steps to help you feel peaceful and energized no matter what’s happening around you. Drawing upon principles of stress management, cognitive behavioral therapy, spiritual truths, and personal experiences, Awakened helps you develop thought habits that produce an unshakeable sense of contentment, motivation, and purpose. Learn how to renew your mind and take a fresh approach to the challenges of teaching!      
The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators


The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators is the latest release (July 2012)! This workbook is designed to deepen Christian teachers’ understanding of the principles in Awakened, elaborating on what the Bible has to say about renewing our minds. For each Awakened chapter, this guide provides an opening reflection, devotion, further scripture reading, application questions, “to do” challenge, and a prayer that invites God to help you in applying the principles to your life. Click here to get a special discount on both books together.    

a Rafflecopter giveaway





51 comments

  1. Great advice! I love the advice about gathering evidence...I so often make problems in my mind when there were none to begin with. All great ideas for starting a new school year!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was a great post. I definitely struggle with taking things personally. Strategy #2 really resonates with me, as I love the idea of starting each day with fresh thinking. Would love to win a copy of one of the books!!

    Kate
    EduKate and Inspire

    ReplyDelete
  3. Such great reminders! I think 2) Start each day with a strong foundation and set your intent. I think with that..just really starting my morning off right with some uninterrupted time in the Word..to set my priorities straight..this is something I'm really going to try hard to do. Would love to win a copy of the books! :) Thanks!

    anny
    achang2@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Can't wait to get my hands on these books. I'm really excited about the Christian Educators book since I teach in a Christian School. I would love to start this as a Bible Study with some of my co-workers. #2 Start each day with a strong foundation and set your intent is important to me because beginning your morning and focus your thoughts will help direct your day encounters with students, co-workers, administration, husband and others. Something to keep in mind and post on the bathroom mirror!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I posted my comment and then realized I didn't follow directions! I like strategy #2. I think it is important to keep in mind what types of struggles our students and coworkers might be going through and to do our best to find ways to help them any way we can, even if it means just being more understanding.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 1 for me. I liked the "is it really an issue or am I blowing it up my own mind?"

    ReplyDelete
  8. 2) Start each day with a strong foundation and set your intent. Yep starting with myself means I am less worried about others.

    Elizabeth
    epolston at rowland dot k12 dot ca dot us
    Mrs. Polston's Kindergarten

    ReplyDelete
  9. I had run across Angela's blog earlier, and I really like what she has to say. I think the first strategy is one I need to work on.
    Sara

    ReplyDelete
  10. #4 is something that I always try to keep in mind especially during these crazzzzyyyy hectic times. I notice that stress levels are always at the peak at the beginning / end of the year and right around the holidays. Thanks so much for offering this giveaway.
    ✰ Stacy

    Simpson Superstars

    ReplyDelete
  11. I remember when I first ran across her website when she was Angela Powell. When she ran came out with her first book I was enthusiastic and bought one immediately. I am thrilled that she has come out with this book and during this past year my faith has grown tremendously. I would love to win this book (fingers crossed). This post really hit home because I tend to take things personally and I have to remember that the problem might not be me at all. Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #4 is the strategy I need to work in and remember that we all have very hectic lives and should be considerate of that.

      Delete
  12. I think strategy #1 is one I really need to work on this year.
    maria.youngblut@cardinalcomet.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think I need to always think of number 4.

    rmariemuniz@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. #2 is very helpful - starting the day with a thought, quote or scripture passage in mind really helps me - I just need reminders to actually take a few minutes to get into that mindset.

    telliott@raypec.k12.mo.us

    ReplyDelete
  15. I also love #2. Lately I have been trying to wake up each morning and only think positive thoughts before I get out of bed. This helps me to start my day on a positive note :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. My Favorite is "2) Start each day with a strong foundation and set your intent. Tell yourself, Today I will be aware of other people's struggles and not take their behaviors personally if they act in ways that are potentially offensive. I will actively look for ways to help meet the needs of students, colleagues, and parents so they're in a better place emotionally."

    I know I start my day with prayer and giving it all to God. I would love to win this study!!!

    Rene Owens
    renetowens@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  17. This was a great post! I remember sitting with several of my missionary colleagues at our conference last year and one lady shared with us that she tries to think the best of people in situations where something they have done has been hurtful. That really stuck with me and it goes against my natural tendancy to take things personally! It's true that we don't know the burdens that others carry...May God give me eyes to see beyond hurtful actions to the need and how I can be a part of loving and caring for others.

    ReplyDelete
  18. For me, learning to give more of myself to others is something I would like to work on #5. Through my yoga class and spiritual work, my self-awareness is there. However, I feel my next step is to pay it forward. I would love to be able to make a difference in someone's life this way.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for the wonderful post! We have all encountered hurtful situations. Maintaining a loving and forgiving attitude works best!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you for this post! It was a great reminder to me that it is not all about me. I need to look at the needs of others and have a good attitude.
    lmehr@dsdmail.net

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think working on my own self awareness will be very helpful.

    Lorena
    Little Treasures

    ReplyDelete
  22. Strategy #4 is the one I would like to work on first. It is just like in the example given in the excerpt. We always need to be aware others are going through so much at this time!
    Thanks, ronni

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think strategy #3 is the one I need to work on. I always wear my heart on my sleeve so this post was great for me...thanks!

    Cheryl
    Spotted Around the School

    ReplyDelete
  24. I like #1. I've been trying to practice that a lot this summer. The drama queen in me has wanted to make a mountain out of a molehill, when I don't need to be doing that.
    Patty

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think I need to reread this every week! Thank you for making me think past my feelings! I wear my heart on my sleeve at times!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What amazing reminders for transitioning back to school... and for every day :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I especially love #5. Not only are you working to be aware of what else can be going on, you get the rewards of helping others!

      Delete
  27. I like #2, starting each day with a new positive attitude!

    ReplyDelete
  28. This book sounds like a great one! I like all the strategies but I think #2 is the one that I would hope to do each and every day!
    Patti
    pattib203@yahoo.com
    Primary Pizzazz

    ReplyDelete
  29. I think I am at the place where I need to be active with number #5, really looking for ways to add value and true help to my colleauges and students, and sometimes those challenging parents. I think this sounds like a magnificent book!

    Danielle

    ReplyDelete
  30. I like #2. I really think these books would be great for back to school!

    ReplyDelete
  31. #3.... I think I need to be more aware of what others are going through and not take what they do or say personal. Now that I am the Bilingual Lead Teacher and work with teachers in a different manner, it's harder to deal with adults rather than students.
    seward509@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  32. #3.... I think I need to be more aware of what others are going through and not take what they do or say personal. Now that I am the Bilingual Lead Teacher and work with teachers in a different manner, it's harder to deal with adults rather than students.
    seward509@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am printing 2 copies of this post...one for home and one for work. I really want to work on #2 setting my own daily purpose. This way I am more centered.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I could see myself applying the strategy of understanding that people are often busy and have many things on their mind...so don't take it personally. I know that is the case with me sometimes. I don't mean to say something, but it came out wrong because I have a 1000000 other things on my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Srrategy2 speaks to me. The quote hurting people hurt people definitely helps mE have empathy for them and not take it personally.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I would love to win these books! Working on my self awareness is something that I continue to do!

    Nicole
    A Frenzy of Fun in 1st Grade

    vbcole26@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I need to work on #1 and realize it's not about ME it's about others' journeys, too. I've got to realize that we are all put into this life for a lesson.

    Emily @ Second Grade Silliness 
    ebuckler@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am working on #3, my own self awareness.

    ReplyDelete
  39. This looks a great resource for a newer teacher.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks for this great post! I can't wait to read these books! Strategy #2 is the one that I am working on. The quote "Hurting people hurt people" gives me more empathy.

    lyons.cori@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you for this... the book looks awesome! I think #2 is going to be my goal this year. I want to have a mantra each day... for myself and my students. :)

    slyterc@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  42. I feel that happens lot in schools. People take things personally when the ways someone is feeling has nothing to do with them. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  43. #2 Is the one that I need to focus on this year!

    ReplyDelete
  44. #1 - stop and think before I react. Many issues are self-correcting.

    This is a wonderful giveaway!!
    Thanks,

    lthrockmorton@mscs.k12.al.us

    ReplyDelete
  45. I need to start each day with a strong foundation. I think this would help my attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I often have to remind myself of #4 - realize that there may be something else going on in the other person's life that we are not aware of. And, unlike the example that Angela gave, we may not ever find out what that problem is/was but to give them the benefit of the doubt. I try to use this skill when a parent reacts in a somewhat irrational manner. I try to stay calm and think that perhaps there is something else they are dealing with and that they just need a kind and listening ear.

    Looks like a great set and would be thrilled to win!
    Thank you!
    lctclark@comcast.net

    ReplyDelete
  47. Oh I need to be awakened! I am way too sensitive!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Number 2...Start each day with a strong foundation and set your intent. I always try to remember this!

    ReplyDelete

Back to Top