Cognitive Restructuring – Ever heard of it? In simple terms, it’s a concept designed to help individuals recognize and understand their thought patterns, and accordingly, adapt them in positive ways. Throughout my career I regularly worked with students on this concept. We talked about how powerful the brain is and how important intentional thoughts are to our well-being. Funny, as much as our thoughts and perceptions can help, they can also be the source of our problems.
Most of us have difficulty letting things go. We mentally grab hold of a concern and obsess, revisiting it over and over. Dr. Robert Sapolsky, neuroscientist at Stanford, discusses this phenomenon in his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. He outlines how we, as humans, often fixate on our stressors, and accordingly, how our perceptions can magnify the problems.
Yes, with our advanced brains, being human can be hard. I believe this to be especially true at this crazy point in history for all educators, who continuously worry, overthink, and obsess – and do so because they care. However, it’s important to strike a balance. We can’t be a source of strength for others if we don’t tend to some degree of care for ourselves.
I will challenge you to train your brain, as I work to train mine. Just as obsessive thoughts of concerns can debilitate us, so too can our intentional focus on stepping away and clearing our minds help us stay sane and balanced. I acknowledge it’s not an easy task, but my hope this week is that you try your best to do the latter.