Emotions are an important part of being human. We don’t want to ignore or suppress them because they provide valuable data about what is happening inside ourselves and the world around us. Yes, I know, I have said this before. However, with the holidays around the corner, there is this notion that we must feel a certain way… mostly happy, joyful and excited. Well, what if that’s not the case for you or your students?
Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned meditation teacher and New York Times bestselling author, explains how we are conditioned to believe that painful feelings are “bad”, and pleasurable ones are “good.” For many people, it’s often easier to avoid grief and sorrow, while only embracing pleasant sensations like confidence or love. A solely focus on pleasurable emotions can negatively impact students’ healthy development.
Social Emotional Learning means developing students’ and adults’ capacity to accept and learn to embrace all of their emotions, including the unpleasant ones, so they can experience a more enduring sense of happiness and life satisfaction. Even during the holidays. Especially during the holidays.
Educators have a critical role understanding what kinds of emotions students experience in the classroom, how they differ among students, and how they influence their engagement and performance. However, the teacher’s job is not to make students feel happy at all times, but to create the conditions where students can recognize and manage their emotions in constructive ways. It is better for students to learn how to cope with disappointment and failure from a caring teacher, than to have no tools to deal with these feelings. Ready or not, feelings are coming our way.
As you start the holiday celebrations, allow yourself and your students to acknowledge and appreciate whatever feelings this time of year brings. If it is sadness, grief or anger, approach it with compassion. And just let it be.
Wishing you a peaceful holiday season and a New Year filled with purpose.
Reference: Salzberg, S. (2017). Real Love. The Art of Mindful Connection. New York, NY: Flatiron Books.