The first term of this school year held lots of wins but came with a lot of unexpected challenges for me. Throughout my career, I have taught every year level from Prep through to Year 6. So when the time came last year to choose what grade I wanted, the need for change was upon me and I opted to move into the upper primary years. I was nervously excited about moving up to teach Grade 5. Teaching grade one had been so fun and I can honestly say I love it. It is fulfilling in so many ways. Plus, I had the most amazing opportunity to work with a team of inspiring women! I had taught year one for so long, it was almost second nature. But you know the old adage - Change is as good as a holiday!
So at the beginning of this year when I started out, I was expecting the big learning curve, especially in regards to the new curriculum. What I was not expecting was the pressure I felt, the challenges of finding my feet and the stress and overwhelm I found myself in, as a result. I have worked really hard on changing my mindset over the last few years and so I was completely taken by surprise by how I felt throughout the last term. To be honest, I didn't handle the emotions very well at all. I was reminded of how human I was but also learned some very valuable lessons that I will take with me into this new school term. The lessons were powerful and so much easier to implement than I thought.
My biggest challenge was - apart from taking on outside pressure - was things not going according to my plan! I realised this is a pattern I have been repeating my whole life! It is all about control really. But I had this idea in my head of what things were going to be like and when they weren't, well...I got stuck in the pain of it all!
I hope that I am not alone in this. In the past, when I had a plan for things - whether it was going out somewhere or doing something and things changed at the last minute, I struggled with flexibility. Which is kind of ironic as I think I am very easy going! But this is something I have struggled with and I realised after the last term that this pattern affects lots of different parts of my life. My expectations for last term were - I have taught Year 5 before, it will be easy to step into a new role, I had a plan as to what it would look like and yes, the curriculum will be new but essentially everything else will be the same. I have never doubted my ability to do my job well....until last term! I struggled. But it wasn't until I was having a conversation about this with my coach that I even realised this was a pattern and I have learned a few things and I have some great questions that I hope you will find useful in your life too! (I am totally teaching this to my students, by the way!)
Expectations are the cause of all pain.
The expectations we have around what things should be like or how life will play out are what create pain in our life - especially when reality doesn't match our expectations. We expect things to be a certain way instead of just living in the present. We spend our time planning and expecting things to follow that plan (which is all in the future) instead of just being in the present.
Having a plan for life or certain situations or work is important. Plans help you to stay focused, giving you a general direction to move in. Planning things in life help you to get on the track. The creation of the plan is like the way you would set a rudder on a boat. It helps you to move in that direction. The problem is not the plan itself but our reaction to the plan when it doesn't follow our expected outcome.
According to Buddhist teachings, all suffering (pain) comes from living in the past or the future. The past can not be changed. If we choose to live in our past, we are giving it total control over us. The past is there to be acknowledged, honoured, surrendering to letting it go and then to grow from. The future does not even exist and yet we give it power. There are a few acronyms for the word fear but I think this is my new favourite: False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is in the future. We create these expectations (according to our plan) of what we think things should be like. But the reality is, is that it's not real! It seems real because we have a plan! We want it to be real because we have a plan! But life is never that simple! Our expectations of what something will be like or what will happen is just in our head. It appears real because it is part of our plan. But it doesn't actually exist yet.
Sometimes I think....if only I had learned this stuff when I was in school! Imagine how different life could have been. But I wasn't meant to learn them in school. I was meant to learn them now to teach them to you and the beautiful little humans that come into my care. So I hope my lessons support you and your little humans also!
It has taken me a while to learn the true meaning of patience. Life does not run on a schedule. Life doesn't have a clock or calendar and regardless of what we expect, our lesson is to surrender to the fact that we don't have control over what happens - even with a plan!
Be okay with things going off plan
If we prepare ourselves for the possibilities and the unknowns, life will ebb and flow with more ease. I love that I have thought for so long that I have control over what happens in life! If that were true, life would not be what it is today. I would not be where I am today. I would not be who I am today. I had this plan in my head and it totally didn't go where I thought it would! Our expectations create the emotions we feel - which in turn, impacts our mindset. Have a plan - the plan is the map - but not the territory. But be okay when things in life do not follow your plan exactly.
Learn to change your expectations
This is a big one for me! Expectations of other people and expectations of what is going to happen. Maybe the thing that we think is important, isn't really important at all!
Here are the questions I am learning to ask around expectations and when things do not go according to them!
What was I expecting? Sometimes the reality of life doesn't match the blueprint we have. Our blueprint is the way we believe life should be in a particular area. When we are happy, the reality around us matches that blueprint. We are in pain when what is happening does not meet those expectations.
Why was I expecting that? Often we are expecting things simply because they are a part of our plan.
Was that fair for myself and others?
Was it true or the truth?
Understand that FEAR is not real.
fear is not real. The only place that fear exists is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear thing that do not exist in the present moment we are in and may not ever even come into existence. I do not doubt or question that the emotion of fear is real but it is also a choice. We are only confined by the walls we build ourselves. Never let your fear define your future!
Gratitude and Surrender
It is impossible for the body to be in a state of pain and gratitude at the same time. When it comes to our expectations and our fears, we end up in pain because we allow those to set the direction of our life. Learning to surrender and leaning into the unexpected is not easy. It takes conscious practice. I am still learning! The practice of gratitude will allow you to open up and place you in the strongest position you can be in - surrender to the opportunity to grow, learn and expand.
Get to know yourself. Get to know who you truly are. Have a plan but be open to the unexpected. It is often in those moments of unexpected that we find life's most beautiful opportunities.
Until next week....be open, set your direction, expect the unexpected.
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