Be Kind to Yourself

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Thoughts On Being Kind to Yourself as a Teacher & Mentor

Be kind to yourself. Four simple words that create a profound impact on everything in your life. From how you process your day’s happenings to how you interact with others… including your students. 

Teachers are some of the most driven, self-critical beings on this planet, more specifically music teachers! Our form of self-expression, our art form, is one that has no finish line. Rarely is a piece we are learning ever finished. We are always trying to improve. We continue to study, take lessons and learn. Then we study some more and take some more lessons. Sometimes the best we can do is just accept our performances with all their faults and mistakes. And in that acceptance lies the key to a life with less stress and greater fulfilment. 

Is it an Accepting Mindset or a Complacent Attitude?

Acceptance is very different then complacency.

The Complacement Mindset

Complacency is rooted in a belief system that says:

  • you cannot be better
  • you cannot change
  • or don’t have the resources/desire to do so

Think Popeye’s famous quote, “I am what I am.” 

The Acceptance Mindset Shift

Acceptance, on the other hand, is rooted in the beliefs of

  • patience with oneself
  • understanding
  • and knowing that you can change but you, to borrow from Popeye’s rhythm “are where you are.”

Think of acceptance as being on a road trip to a destination and at each point in your route you don’t give up, but simply realize, you “are where you are” and continue, concerning the speed at which you chose to travel, to your destination. 

The late Wayne Dyer used to say, (I believe I am paraphrasing), “We are not ‘human-beings’, we are ‘humans-becoming.” 

I often hear an overwhelming tone of panic and frustration in my coaching practice with private music teachers and business people. My clients often come to me believing that they “should have” already reached their goals, that they “should have” already been able to motivate a student. They “should” all over themselves! This level of thinking is not conducive to living a life of fulfilment, peace and joy. It only shows you what you don’t have. As many of you who have followed my articles or have read my books, know, what you focus on expands.

I often sign off with — Focus on what you want. 

Think about it, have you ever had a day that started off with a good toe stub on the leg of your bed, followed by the frustration of not finding the right outfit to wear, only to be sequenced with the coffee machine not working? You’re thinking to yourself as you storm out the door, all grumpy and mean, “What’s wrong with me?!” and as a result, the universe comes back with the answer by creating more of the same with you throughout the day? That’s a great example of not being kind to yourself and focusing on what you don’t want. 

What, instead, if you start laughing at yourself, treating yourself with a bit more kindness? Now how does the movie of your day unfold? As a petrifying thriller or more of a comedy? Which would you prefer more of in your life? 

Related: Liz Craig’s article focusses on how you can incorporate strategies for less stress and more enjoyment with your students.

Choosing to Invest in Kindness

So, at this point, you’re probably asking, “So how can I be more kind to myself?”

Well, let’s start with something you are very familiar with, music. Music consists of both sound and silence and as famous composer once said, “Most composers do not know how to use the latter of those two.” The same can be said about life. Your life consists of both sound and silence, and you probably do not have enough of the latter of those two! In today’s busy, tech abundant, stimuli filled society; silence is one of the most important tools for creating a life in which you are kind to yourself. 

Each day, take at least an hour to reflect, to sit and let the waves of your mind calm themselves. When you first start doing this, your mind will try to trick you into being active. “Get a glass of water; you’re thirsty. Maybe you should just return that call so you can stop thinking about it. Use the bathroom, scratch an itch, etc.” Ignore these distractions. Convene with nature, take a walk, sit outside on your deck. INVEST IN YOURSELF! 

Choosing to stay in ‘Output mode’

As an educator, you are constantly in “output” mode. You give to your students, your family, your significant other, but you, most likely, rarely invest in yourself. Eventually, your bank account of giving will get depleted unless you spend some time investing in yourself. Unless you are supremely conscious of being “kind to yourself.” 

You might say that your spouse or children come first. That’s not the most effective way of living a fulfilled life. YOU come first in YOUR life. That’s not selfish; it’s self-preserving, through a powerful “self-investment.” It’s actually really simple, and you cannot give what you don’t have. So if you want to give to others, first give to yourself. Heed the warning you hear every flight attendant tell you before takeoff, “In case of emergency, place YOUR oxygen mask on YOUR face before helping others.” 

Related: Read how Rosemarie Penner finds the right balance between busy family life vs. teaching pressures.

Final Thoughts on Practising Self Kindness

So I challenge you to take supreme care of yourself. Invest some time in yourself. Your time is simply the greatest asset you have and the most valuable thing you can give to anyone, most importantly yourself. Know you are a human becoming. Without a doubt, you will be a better you, a better spouse, a better parent and most certainly a better teacher.

Tell us in the comments – what shift are you making to invest in yourself right now?