Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Stories We Tell Ourselves


My blog post yesterday reminded me that I had an interesting exchange recently with a young woman who loves teaching physical education at the high school level. She had been notified by her school district that she would have to teach math next year because of budget cuts, although she was able to keep her teaching contract.

She was miserable, railing that math was irrelevant and that the kids she will be teaching have math phobias and a history of failure. She didn't see how she could deal with this situation that she mentally characterized as a calamity, especially since she was forced to do something she detested instead of being able to follow her passion, which is teaching kids to be embodied, the meaning of wellness, and how to reduce stress.

After listening to her pour out her heart, telling several of us why this would never work, I had a chance to talk to her alone. Gently, I asked her a simple question. "Would it change the way you look at things if you thought of this new assignment not as teaching math, but as teaching students who have been wounded by math and math teachers?"

She looked stunned. She paused and thought about it. There was a softening of her face, a flicker of excitement in her eyes. A new story started to coalesce. She said, "That would make all the difference!"


We get so caught up in our stories and don't stop to realize that they're just stories.

Sometimes all it takes to move us to a more fertile place is for us to kick back, ground ourselves by lying fully supported by Mother Earth, and have a little conversation with our inner self, our guides, or whatever you call that place of wisdom that is always available to guide you if you open to it.

Sometimes getting unstuck takes a gentle nudge in the form of a question from someone who is far enough outside your experience to know, when you still don't, that every situation is bigger than one lowly story. Sometimes it takes the influence of a sensitive therapist or wise woman elder to gently guide you to a new perspective.

What stories are holding you back, keeping you stuck in a place that you should move out of? You made them up. . . and you can change them. Isn't that marvelous?

7 comments:

Kamana said...

that's really interesting that your friend feels that way. in schools here, we are hard pressed to find teachers who are willing to teach PE but everyone is more than willing to teach maths.

Bill Stankus said...

My first thought after reading this was- just another example of why schools are failing.

On second pass I included an inditement of our society - to have minimized education to such a degree that the building block of science and logic is taught by a wrong person - a person whose skill set is not in alignment with children or the program.

PE does have value but certainly not the equal of math. I'm sorry, if following her passion is a priority then she should quit and work at Gold's Gym.

Seems to me placing children first is the essence of a good teacher.

Janet said...

I love your take on things. We all need a friend/advisor like that.

And I ADORE that photo in the grass. It's going to get printed to go up above my computer, or something! i love it!

Michelle Johnson said...

I love the way you think Meri. You're right about providing a different perspective to someone so they can move into a new direction. Hope it works out for her. Have a great weekend.

Butler and Bagman said...

Great advice! When I was in high school, I hated math and got low marks in it and my grandfather asked me why. "I'm not interested in it," I said. He gave me one of his looks and said, "You can be interested in anything you choose to be interested in." That was the moment my life opened up. Your friend will do that for many people. Nice work!

Tonya said...

you are so right. love this post. nice to meet you on the road to unravelling.

Reya Mellicker said...

This is exactly why I meditate every day.