We have jobs to do, and people to take care of. Our jobs are important. We're all on the front lines of a global incessant fire that makes the recent infernos in California and Australia seem contained. We should be proud of what we do.
We should also don protection. Flames are hot, and we are human, and if we forget ourselves in this fight then we will burn up and burn out. So SPAN's second season of The Nest, starts with us, the caretakers. How are we doing? What are we doing to take care of ourselves? We're dedicating this Episode 1 and all of Season 2 to doing what SPAN stands for: seeing people in transition, seeing their experience, but remembering to start with ourselves.
In early therapy sessions, I'm often asked what we're going to do about a certain situation. I'm often pressured to act, to exert some force upon levers in my clients' lives, as if some outward change would somehow produce the change they desire within.
I explain to clients that, by truly listening to them and letting them see that I'm hearing them, I am doing something. We are hardwired for empathy. Not only giving it, but also receiving it. It's as essential to a healthy human condition as clean water and fresh air. Why else would the simple act of being seen and understood reduce somebody's heart rate, slow and deepen their breathing, and lead to a calming of their sympathetic "fight or flight" nervous system? Every cell in our bodies knows we need to be seen to be safe. Forty thousand years ago, not being seen by your trusted clan members was a very bad idea. Our bodies remember.
The people and students we serve need to be seen in their experience in order to optimally thrive and learn. But there's a lot of experience to see these days. It can be inundating. Compassion fatigue is real. Be careful.
How can we be careful? By allowing our own compassion skills to include ourselves. By allowing trusted others to see us, and what we're experiencing, we can feel connected and not alone, thereby reducing our own heart rate and blood pressure, and improving our ability to think and solve problems. Did you know that stress reduces the conductivity of neurons in the frontal cortex? Self-compassion isn't a luxury, any more than high-quality gear is a luxury for a firefighter!
Self-care is the most practical tool in today's world.
So join us in The Nest. Meet like-minded educators from around the world and learn what they're doing to get transitions right in the Age of Corona. Become a member of SPAN and help the world get transitions right. Seize this chance to help yourself, and the people you serve, to thrive through change.