It was relentless. All encompassing. Coming at me all the time. Just when I thought I was clear – SPLASH – drenched once again.
Negativity. I was literally drowning in it.
Pessimism, gloom, narrow-mindedness, bitterness, disappointment, nastiness, bitchiness. It had so many guises – so many faces.
I was an active participant in negativity – a co-conspirer. Sucked in, initiating it, spreading it, wallowing in it, looking for it.
I took the negativity into me, my being. More and more I started to resemble the people and worlds I was surrounding myself with.
My positivity to negativity ratio – was totally out of whack, firmly weighted towards negativity.
I remember thinking, ‘I gotta get out of this gloom and doom.’
It was a long, long, LONG time – before I acted. My close friends and partner probably let out a huge sigh of relief, and danced on the spot, when I finally did take ACTION.
My realisation can be summed up as:
STOP IT GREG: Stop Feeding Yourself Negativity
Feed Yourself Elsewhere. Feed from other troughs. Troughs of Positivity, Possibility, Persistence…
6 Tips – To Steer towards Positivity and Possibility:
Tip 1: Read and Listen to Inspiring and Positive People outside Education
Strength-based training and positive psychology were key influences on me.
Introduced via a Counselling Course I was completing, they gave me a different lens through which to view my situation. A lens that completely shifted my business as usual practices.
Online solopreneurs along with Internet Marketing and Creativity Entrepeneurs via the world of podcasts also gave me a different way to see education.
Key Takeaway: Go outside the ‘business as usual’ range of people that you often engage with. Be challenged. Be Stirred. Be inspired in unusual and different directions.
Tip 2: Switch off Negativity / Tune into Positivity
Turn off the news and other media sources that traffic in gloom and doom, that reward nastiness and negativity with air-time.
Seek out positivity – Seek out alternatives that focus on taking action, on bringing about change. Alternatives that begin with the notion that ‘you can do it’, that ‘you have much to offer’.
Seek out people who are only too willing to share ideas and resources, as well as offer support and acceptance.
For me, in all these respects, the world of podcasts along with my Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter, were critical.
Tip 3: Steer Conversations Towards Positivity and Possibility
Find yourself part of a ‘downer’ conversation filled with griping, whinging, bitching… You get my drift.
Shift the focus. Start talking about:
the positive interactions you’ve had with students;
the shifts in understanding or skill you’ve witnessed;
the risks that you’ve seen students take;
the wonderful support you’ve seen students give to each other;
the rollicking adventures you’ve been on with your students.
Sure there are things that are not so good in anyone’s class or anyone’s school but these don’t have to dominate each and every conversation. They don’t have to define us.Expand and Amplify the space around positivity – wherever it occurs in your life.
Tip 4: Look Elsewhere / Pay Attention to Positivity in your Local Community
Like a moth to a flame, do you find yourself noticing all the negative things in your neighborhood – an ugly building, a dying tree, or the litter lying all around (or am I over-sharing here)?
For a powerful technique, that really gets me out of the doldrums, and calms my racing mind, please check out my Flick the Switch blog-post.
It’s inspired by the field of mindfulness which is well worth investigating. Try out Flick The Switch and let me know how you go.
Tip 5: Re-Connect with your Creatively Awesome Self
Negativity was so not what I was about. Ditch it where you can.
Re-connect with your exciting, passionate and creative times in the classroom, when you knew that you were making a real difference.Those moments when you’d catch yourself saying ‘YES!’ or high-fiving yourself (when no-one was looking, or maybe that’s just me).
- Revisit photos, work-plans, diaries or journals of those fun, creative teaching times;
- Have a ‘remember when’ conversation with a close colleague. Write down what comes up. It’ll get you in touch with your Key Drivers, those things that make you tick.
- This very act of remembering – shines a light on what to bring back or have more of – in your life.
Tip 6: Build the Foundation for Escape (If you want to & When you’re able to)
- If all around you see formerly passionate, wonderful educators- who’ve lost their dazzle – or are struggling to stay afloat;
- If most of the conversations in your work-place begin with a whinge;
- If the first assumption is usually negative;
- If management is steering the school well away from your mission – from the very values that inspire you as a teacher – that make you get up everyday to teach your students.
Then start planning, or preparing an escape route. Easier said than done, I know, if you have financial commitments.
If that’s the case, then start building more space in your life for positivity, to counter and to exceed the negativity all around you. Following the tips above will provide a start.
Last year about this time I was in a funk: My professional development was in a funk, the deep deep blue kind. I had been doing instructional design for a little over a decade and on my best days work felt stale. Around then I learned about this thing called EdCamp, a gathering of educators in K-12. After a little browsing and googling I found one a few hundred miles away in Abilene, Texas. It was a godsend. EdCampWestTexas literally changed my life.
For me steering towards positivity and possibility took all of two steps:
1. Be open to curiosity.
Thanks so much Urbie. Sometimes it’s really simple isn’t it (yet we can often make it complicated) – two steps as you said. And underpinning both of your steps – Mindset – A growth Mindset.
I’ve heard so many positive things about EdCamps – they really seem to ignite the educators that attend – or as you say, “changed [your] life.”
Sometimes it is about reaching out – daring to take a step into the unknown. Cheers for your insights.
Valuable information. Fortunately for me I found your website by accident,
and I’m surprised why this coincidence did not take place in advance! I bookmarked it.