I hate to admit it, but words of affirmation is one of my love languages. I know you're probably wondering WHY it's so hard for me to admit, and I think it's mostly because it just makes me feel really needy and disappointed 90% of the time.
People who encourage and cheer OTHER people on seem to be few and far between these days, it can sometimes feel like you're walking through seasons of life alone or with people who just don't care about your battles or the advances that you're making. September and October is a specifically tricky time for teachers with all of the events, conferences, grades, and such that seem to be piling on. It's just really easy to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. And if you're anything like me, feel like you're constantly doing something wrong. Yup, if you haven't been here before, general anxiety is something I battle on a daily basis. Not just worry, but the overwhelming sense that I have done something wrong to all the people.
If you follow along on my instagram adventures, I posted a story a few days ago about how it's been a pretty icky place in my mind, lately. For some reason, I interpret other people's stress and frustration into an issue with me, not just a bad day on their end. Funny story though, this used to be 10X worse for me about a year ago. So, if you've been reading this and nodding your head, the preacher in your head is saying "yes!!" or you just feel like, maybe I might have a snippet of wisdom for you, let's figure out how to navigate these seasons without being defeated or disappointed when we're not getting what we need from the people around us.
On your good days, write that stuff down.
Usually, in my mind you can separate my thoughts into 2 categories. Truth and absolutely, 100% overdramatized soap opera. On my hardest days, the latter takes over and makes me feel just absolutely defeated... behind closed doors. One thing that I've found that has helped is on my best days, I'm talking days where I feel like I could take over the world, establish peace with North Korea, or even start a multimillion dollar company, I take the time to write out my truthful thoughts. Some call them affirmations, but honestly, sometimes, they have nothing to do with me. The whole preface of this practice is to be able to have a list of truths to lean on when my mind is trying to be controlled by the lies. When I can go back and read what my past self has written about my life, I'm not searching for affirmation or positivity from other people.
A list of my truths may include:
-There are a lot of people in my circle of influence who have problems, but I am not one of them.
-My students are the reason I deal will half the things I do on a daily basis.
-The world will keep spinning, even if I choose to sulk in untruthful thoughts
-I'm satisfied with the life that I have, right now, at this very moment.
-My husband, parents, dog, siblings, and most of my coworkers are proud of me and cheering me on.
When I can go back and read these things, on my darkest days, it's a game changer. Because, the kryptonite to all the lies, is the truth. Set yourself up for success on those days that you know are coming for your peace.
Stop giving people access to your control panel
One of the things on my list above, that I did not mention was this one.... really... powerful sentence I write down... But I'm not sure you're ready for it. Mostly, because I don't want you to take it the wrong way. Never in my life do I want to be that person who walks around with an "I don't care what people think" mantra and use it to be a jerk to others. The truth is, when it comes to being the best version of myself, I don't care what they think. I get comments all the time of people making fun of me for my battle with my mindset and trying NOT to fall into a life filled with complaining and frustration, that's fine... that's on them. But that's never going to be a free pass for me to treat them poorly, regardless of how they treat me. So, that being said one of the truths I have written down is this. "Sometimes you are the problem. Figure out if it's worth solving, or if they can get over it." There are people in my life who I care deeply about, I would never want to hurt, upset or lose them, but there are also people in my life who just aren't down with my direction. I'm not so close with those people, and I'm having to learn that they're not the people I need in my circle, anyways. Sometimes, it can be really hard to discern whose voice we let in on difficult seasons. One thing that has been made so clear to me is, the last person I want whispering in my ear when I'm going through something hard, is the person who is just going to sit there and tell me how hard things are or how I can't keep this mindset, I can't just be at peace. I'm looking for people who are whispering to me "keep going, keep pushing, it's really freaking hard but it's really freaking worth it, your students need you, your husband needs you, your vision is not going to just happen overnight." I NEED LIFE GIVERS IN MY CORNER, NOT COMPLAINERS. Be mindful of the people you let have a say, that's all I'm sayin.
When your encouragement well runs dry..
I know what you're thinking after reading this far. Okay, Maddie, this sounds great...but, I work with draining people, my house is always a mess, my parents don't understand or agree with my life choices, my friendships are shallow, no one in my life knows how to show me love or appreciation. I get it. I'm there. I know. It is so draining. The majority of my readers are teachers, so forgive me as I take it this direction. We spent a bajillion dollars on a college education that taught us that the basis of teaching is modeling. Right? The whole year we spend modeling a skill or concept for our babes to then practice. Some skills have to be taught explicitly. Like, "this is how we write our heading on notebook paper." While, other skills can just simply be modeled and understood, for example, my students know where my desk area is because I stand there most every day while I take attendance. So, like I said before, words of affirmation is one of my love languages. It's a curse, because it just feels like no one gets it. Just tell me I'm pretty and doing a good job and I'll love you forever. But it's not that easy, so what do we do? Model your love language for the people in your life. If it's words of affirmation, encourage the crap out of other people. If it's acts of service, do things with a happy heart AND acknowledge when other people do things for you. Don't just say "thank you." Try something along the lines of, "man, when you told me that I rocked my lesson and that you were proud of me, it made me want to cry. You were totally speaking to my love language." LET THE PEOPLE KNOW. You can't just expect the people around you to know immediately how you need to be served and loved, that's not fair at all. Somedays you have to be your own affirmation, but some days you need to just open your eyes a little wider and see where it's actually coming from. Tap into that well, and if there's nothing in there, then give what you want and you will get back what you need.
Have a fabulous Monday, sweet friends.
You are powerful humans, capable of more, worthy of love, and too strong to settle for anything less.