Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Being positive

Some of you may have gathered that I'm not always or naturally the most positive person. I try, really I do, but sometimes I lose my way and, well, it just gets harder and harder to be positive, especially with myself. Especially with my job. Somewhere along the line I confused the compliment, "you're a really reflective practitioner" with a tendency to over-criticise everything I do. To the point where I can no longer see the good in what I do. Only the problem with that is that the more critical of myself I become, the harder it is to enjoy what I do, and if I don't enjoy what I do, I'm more likely to pick out the negatives, and, well, as you can see, it's a bit of a downward spiral.

A while ago I wrote about why I quit teaching. Perhaps what I didn't acknowledge on that was how much my own personality (and, admittedly, state of mind) played in my decision to leave. That self-flagellating negativity that hollowed me out and disabled me from being able to enjoy doing the job I trained for. Having had a year out, I want to reassess my position. I want to teach. I want to enjoy the job I trained for and I want to be good at it. Heck, I trained hard enough for it. But, you see, the thing is, breaking the cycle of negativity is so difficult, and, by the time I was forced out of the classroom by illness, there was nothing of me left. But I've had time to reflect (in a positive way) and grow emotionally, and repair a little and I have, happily, found myself back in the classroom. And, whilst it's not always easy, I recently remembered something that a tutor on my teacher training course said to me. It's rare that happens. Generally they weren't that motivating, but this particular tutor caught me in a moment of distress and self-criticism and said, "You have to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it it will never be worth it and you won't last." Nearly 7 years later, perhaps those words have finally filtered through. I can see now how imperative it is to find the enjoyment. Yes, it's a job, but it doesn't have to be a life sentence; I can enjoy the journey.

So... I have been thinking. I know it's not going to be easy, but it is perhaps essential, that I pick out the positives in every day. That I remember why I love working with children. That I remember that I am good at this job. That I have been given a real vote of confidence by my employer. That I CAN do it. So, instead of picking apart all the negatives, I've taken to writing down the positives at the end of every day (in a pink notebook entitled 'Hannah's reflection book') and it's surprising how much it helps. Recording everything: From the smile from a child who's thrilled to see me after a few days off to the sense of achievement that I feel when the children 'get it'; from the chat with colleagues at lunchtime that reminds me we are all human and sometimes it's enough to 'get by', to the pride I feel at having got through a day and still be able to find the positives therein. My modus operandi has been set for so long at 'negative', and now it's about redressing the balance; finding the little things to smile about; retraining myself to think positively and starting to enjoy this job (and life) that I have worked so hard for. It's not easy. But I do think, slowly, it's beginning to work.

How do you stay positive? Any tips or tricks? Please share them with me.