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dylan“The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” – Steve Jobs

We all have moments when things do not seem to make sense.  No matter how hard we try, things just do not go our way.  It is not always easy to understand why things are happening in the moment they are happening.  This is why it is helpful to sit back and reflect on things once in a while.  Self-reflection is a tool that helps us come unstuck.

It is easy to write columns about life because the things I am describing have already happened.  Sitting and writing this column serves as a way for me to recognize and digest the lessons from the week that I might have missed in the moment.  Similarly, writing in a journal is a method of self-reflection that can help you to more fully assimilate your own experiences and gain new perspectives on what is happening.

When sitting down to reflect, it is helpful to remember that you always find more of what you are looking for.  I tend to spend most of my journaling time making lists of positives and things I am grateful for.  I have found that this activity gives me a greater sense of well-being and an understanding of the bigger picture.  It is a simple practice that pays big dividends.  Make it simple and fun.  Make a “This day is awesome because” list and then write down all the reasons from the day that you have to be celebrate being alive.

Remember, we are the ones who get to construct meaning out of our surroundings.  We are blessed with the capacity to take the raw data from any experience and then interpret it.  It all happens rather quickly.  That is why it is important to pay attention to the way we feel.  If we are feeling frustrated and stuck, there are likely some beliefs active in our mind that are not serving us very well.

The good news is that we can start right now to create more life-affirming beliefs.  Each week, I encourage students to look at their struggles, doubts, and fears through a new lens.  By seeing the potential in these students, it is also easy to recognize the beliefs that they are holding onto that are getting in the way of their success. From there, it is just a matter of holding on to the vision of their success regardless of their current success rate, or their current beliefs.

The number one thing that I remind our students is that all is well.  Life is a complex and beautiful adventure that is constantly changing and revealing new ideas, and new ways of being.  If one way is no longer working, try something new.  If you are coming up short by your own measures, then change your measures.  Find a way to witness the gifts that you have in a renewed light.  Go eat at a new restaurant, or take a different route home.  Do anything to get a new perspective on things.

One of my students was constantly pounding his head on the wall, trying hard to be a good writer.  He thought he had to be.  With time, he learned to slow down and drop those expectations of himself.  He was so focused on writing that he was overlooking his aptitude for math, and for telling jokes.  He had forgotten how amazing he was.  It did not take long, however, with a little encouragement, for him to rekindle his zest for life.  While he did not turn into Ernest Hemingway, he was able to pass his language arts classes and sleep better at night.

I had another student who was the exact opposite.  She thought so poorly of her writing that she was scared to try, and scared to let others read what she had written.  In her case, she has a gift with words.  Her challenge was to let go of her own judgments and listen to the praise that others were lending to her work.  It was inspiring to see her transform from doubtful to confident, and to share her gifts freely with the world.

Perhaps you feel stuck in some area.  Check in with yourself regarding your own judgments and ways of looking at things.  Find a way to give yourself a break and some much needed encouragement.  It is only a matter of time before your renewed enthusiasm and joy will open doors that you have overlooked in the past.  The energy and resources you need to be successful are already present, waiting to be discovered.

Photo (Top):   Take the time to reflect on the good in your life.  It is always better than you think.  For Dillon Zehnder, a 10th grader at Culver City High School, all of his learning paid off when he won the bronze medal at the SCSFL Novice High School Men’s Epee fencing tournament this past weekend.

Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District.  He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, to find out more go to www.DarrellandEd.com

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