The power of acknowledgement
What a year it has been. So many challenges for so many people in so many places in so many ways. Australia particularly has faced floods, fires, drought and then the physical, emotional practical and financial challenges of the pandemic.
So what's the good news?
One good thing is that if you are reading this then you have made it this far. And that is something to acknowledge.
Acknowledgement is such a powerful thing, when we apply it with ourselves, with others, and with the greater community. It has so many immediate benefits and offers long term gains as well.
Let's break it down and firstly look at how self-acknowledgement helps us.
When delivering educator professional development sessions, we often ask questions like 'What are 10 things you are proud of yourself about right now? What qualities do you like about yourself, or what achievements do you feel good about, or what are your strengths or talents?' When these questions are posed, there is always at least one educator sitting there not able to think of ONE thing that they can say that's positive about themselves.
Guaranteed if the question was, 'What would you like to change or improve?' there would be pens on paper filling up the list.
That's our reliable 'negativity bias' at work. Always ready to list what ISN'T working, or what ISN'T good enough. Teflon for the good and velcro for the bad as Dr. Rick Hanson says. And unfortunately it is damaging for ourselves as well as others and our communities.
We can get so used to being critical of ourselves that it can feel very difficult to put the positive focus on ourselves. And when we're hard on ourselves, it's easy to look at others just as critically.
The truth is that we ALL want to feel heard, seen, understood, so when we acknowledge or validate we are fulfilling a basic human need we all share.
When we do learn to practice self acknowledgement and acknowledgement of others, the benefits are many:
As soon as we shift our focus from what we think is missing to how we can support ourselves or others, it gives an IMMEDIATE mood shift - a fantastic way to CHANGE CHANNELS!
It immediately taps us into feelings of compassion, appreciation, self-love, and gratitude.
We are flooded with 'feel good' hormones.
As we practice we are rewiring our brains so that our negativity default can slowly be interrupted with positive habits.
Acknowledging our strengths allows us to build on those strengths and qualities, and most importantly our self esteem and confidence.
Acknowledging others builds connections and relationships.
We become kinder and more loving to self and others - what a feeling of relief!
Overall we are boosting our mental health and boosting our resilience.
There are so many ways you can build your acknowledgement muscle, and none of them have to cost money! Here are some ideas:
Say thank you more often - to workmates, friends, the person in the supermarket. Look them in the eye and mean it and you will both feel good.
Be specific with your acknowledgement. The more specific you can be the more meaning it will have and the bigger the benefit to you both. "Thanks so much for posting that letter for me. It really helped me out and saved me time. I appreciate it." "Thank you for putting so much effort into that project. I can tell you took the time to give it all you had and it shows."
Write someone a thank you note or card and mail it or email them. Tell them what they did and the impact it had on you. What amazing karma that is - something good will happen and that might just be that you feel good and so do they.
Reflect on your own achievements or qualities. Get a piece of paper and write the numbers 1 to 10 down the left hand side then start writing all the things you are proud about or think are your strengths or talents. You can include everything from getting through a very sad loss to being able to make someone laugh with your one trusty joke.
Acknowledge that you are human and you make mistakes just like everyone does and go a bit easier on yourself. Acknowledge that you were doing the best you could with the resources you were accessing at the time and that next time if you are in that situation again you will ............. When we cut ourselves some slack it's amazing how our judgement of others seems to lessen and lighten.
From our perspective at Positive Living Skills, we want to give a HUGE shout out to all the amazing educators out there who have had a full on year, and had to manage moving from face to face teaching to remote teaching literally overnight in some cases, and all the adjustments you have achieved and all the love you have shown your students. Another big shout out to all the families who have supported children during this uncertain and scary time. And to all the children themselves, to all the business owners and workers who have had to face lock downs, lay offs, pivots, back flips and losses. What an amazing job people have done in connecting with what's important and what they are capable of when put into impossible and unexpected circumstances.
Our acknowledgement also goes to all those who have supported our Positive Living Skills journey this year. We have had some wins with small pockets of funding, we have helped more school communities, we had our programs featured on the NSW Mental Health Commission website, and we are still here despite the challenges we have faced! That's something to acknowledge.
We also released our Positive Living Skills WHITE PAPER, and we would love it if you would read it send us your feedback. We love that the Government is focusing more on mental health, although the trajectory for mental illness stats is set to jump off the charts. There is still a big gap in mental health EDUCATION and with the right support we could really help to fill that gap.
Finally, big acknowledgement to those who are really struggling and who find this time of year particularly challenging. Please look after yourselves and please call out for support as and when you need it. Acknowledge you need support then take action by calling a friend, making an appointment at the GP, or calling a crisis support line like Lifeline on 131114. (24 hours - Australia)
Until next time, please be kind to each other and to yourself.
The PLS Team
“And while acknowledging the darkest and heaviest times we experience is important, we still need to spin the moment, paint it a different color, and transform it because positivity saves lives.” Debbie Lynn, 360 degrees of inspiration (full circle)