Guess what? Love and compassion are infinite. There is no finite amount of love or compassion that you can put out in the world. Think about that for a second. Love, compassion, validation, forgiveness, joy, you name it. They are infinite. No pie graph or flowchart can encompass them! They are limitless. And they spread, expand, and grow.
I didn’t believe it at first either. I thought I had to “save my energy” for the “hard stuff.” But I tried it. I tackled each day and moment with this mini-mantra. “I see the best in you. I see the best in me. I see the best in us.” Every time I saw someone (especially those people who tend to ruffle my Badass Changemaker feathers). I accepted them and myself. I didn’t stop there though. I kept going. In my head or often out loud I would say, “I’m so glad you’re here. I see you. I appreciate you. You are enough because you are you.”
You can only imagine what happened. Those positive vibes - that indomitable energy - started to spread.
I remember talking to an administrator in the district, and he asked me, “What effect do you think you will have in your school after the first year?” (Ballsy! I liked the question!) Without hesitation, I replied, “I will radically and positively shift our school. You will start hearing people say, ‘I don’t know what it is. But something has shifted in our school.’” It did happen. But I could have done a better job of naming it. It didn’t just happen. There was a robust, ruthless, intentional, daily positive energy that I was putting out every day. It was NOT easy. It was HARD work. Especially at first. But I’m guessing that you’re like me. You crave the road less traveled. You desire the work that is hard and worth it. You crave seeing a real shift in your community.
And I didn’t even tell you what happened to our class. From day one, I declared our classroom the Super Brave Room. And every day, I reported to every one of the kids the same mantra. “I see the best in you. I see the best in me. I see the best in us.” And then I continue teaching and living OUT LOUD with the refrain of “I’m so glad you’re here. I see you. I appreciate you. You are enough because you are you.” And you know what’s amazing about kindergarteners? They don’t hesitate. They take it in. They own their truth. And if they see others who aren’t there yet, they share their truth again and again. I didn’t have to prompt them to inspire each other. They went to each OTHER and started saying radical things like “I’m so glad you’re here. I see you. I appreciate you. You are enough because you are you.” I also encouraged them to personalize it with something they like. That could be a fist bump, a handshake, a high-five, a gentle hand on the shoulder, or a big hug. Their favorite way to validate me? By saying “I’m so glad you’re here. I see you. I appreciate you. You are enough because you are you. You are IMPORTANT” while tapping my head and ruffling my “super hair.” (Yup, it’s the real deal!)
This validation all comes back full circle.
You rarely have to “manage” a student if they know they are loved. You rarely have to “discipline” a child if they know they have a purpose and place. You rarely have to “give logical consequences” to a child if they know they have experienced autonomy, belonging, and competence. You rarely have to “help resolve conflicts” with a child if they know they have the independent and interdependent skills to do it for themselves. (This works with us adults too!)
What could be your mantra when you are around people - especially students and families? Here are a few I like. Remember to go deep inside of yourself when you think them/say them/feel them.
“I see the best in you. I see the best in me. I see the best in us.”
“I see you. I accept you as you are. I see me. I accept myself as I am.”
“You are strong. You are capable. I am strong. I am capable.”
“I choose you. I choose acceptance. I choose myself. I choose acceptance.”
“I notice you. I just notice you. I notice me. I just notice me.”
What could your encouragement be for people in your life - especially students and families? Here are a few I like. Remember to go deep inside of yourself when you think them/say them/feel them.
“I’m so glad you’re here. I see you. I appreciate you. You are enough because you are you. You are IMPORTANT.”
“I appreciate you more than you know. I love you more than you know. I value you more than you know.”
“You are brave. I see that but most of all. I see you.”
“You are super. You are strong. You are valuable. You are worthy.”
“You have a place. You have a purpose. You belong.”
I tear up as I write these words. I tear up as I say these words. I did NOT hear those words growing up. Love was earned through helping and doing. Validation was gained by working hard and keeping your mouth shut. Acceptance was obtained by not asking questions. As a Badass Changemaker, I get to change an entire belief system.
So we need to gut that mentality. We need a complete, bye-never-see-you-again-codependence shift from giving ANYONE the message that their enoughness has rules.
You are enough because you are you.