I Matter, You Matter, We All Matter!
I remember the first time I learned that scientifically, we have an electromagnetic force field that radiates out from our heart to a four foot radius! I knew that energy was contagious, but putting a number to it, and knowing the science behind it, really spoke to me. I began taking more notice about my own energy. First, I noticed what my energy was and then I would notice how others impacted me. I greet my students each day with a smile. There were mornings that I got through them all and still had a smile! #winning
There were also mornings my vibrational state encountered a disruption of sorts. A student came in and was not happy to be there or had a scowl and did not greet me as kindly as I had done. Maybe I received a happy greeting but once in the room, a student would make a choice that brought about negative energy. When I was truly paying attention to that, I noticed not only how my energy changed but how the energy of the entire classroom changed. I have literally observed an entire classroom of smiles turn to straight faces or frowns because of one student’s actions. I think it’s important to note that these actions are not always major and explosive either. Sometimes it’s little things I may not even notice. Maybe it was a negative comment made about someone or something. Maybe it was a single facial expression I missed. Sometimes it’s simply the negative energy coming from the kid who wasn’t able to enter the classroom with a smile. I realized how quickly the energy of the classroom could change. My energy matters, your energy matters, we all matter. This is because we truly are all connected. Our energies get intertwined because of the electromagnetic energy waves that radiate from our heart!
I watched it happen at home as well. My husband would come home in an uneasy manner of frustration from his day at work and sometimes I would feel the frustration build up in me to match his energy. Have you ever been in a meeting with adults and as everybody enters the room, they’re greeting each other nicely with smiles and everyone seems to be fairly happy? Then suddenly something is said or presented, maybe one person expresses negativity about something, and by the end of the meeting everyone leaves with anxiety and/or frustration on their faces. If you think about it, I am sure you often observe quick changes in the moods of others as a result of one other person in the vicinity having a negative energy.
This happens because of that force field of electromagnetic energy we have and the idea that it’s easier to match the energy of those around you. That doesn’t mean you have to match energy, but it happens easily when you aren’t paying attention. I began paying attention. I wanted to be able to regulate my moods and emotions better. I didn’t want to match the negative energy brought in.
I began with my breath. Victor Frankl wrote about the space between a response and stimulus. He said in that space is the freedom to choose how you respond to a stimulus. I am choosing to breathe in that space. If negative energy was introduced into the classroom, I would check my breathing before responding. Slow down. Breathe slow and consciously. Then I would put a little bit of a smile on my face and mentally tell myself, You can handle this! I would address the negative energy whether it required some loving kindness or a conversation. If a student just seemed to be in a “bad mood” I would offer them a hug or offer to help them. I tried to keep present with the idea that kids don’t often recognize their feelings, they just know they don’t feel happy. They often just need a little attention, someone to listen, or some quiet time. I approached them as having the ability to choose their next step. The choice to be ready to learn has to be their own. I want to help them through their emotions, not around them. If they need more than a hug, we figure it out. When I stay calm and positive, the majority of the students remain with me.
At home, when my husband comes in from work, I try to really “light up” for him! This seems to help shift him from the funk of work. If it’s something serious, we talk about it and I let him get it out, but I don’t join his frustration. This means I engage in the conversation, feeling upset with him and move myself through it with nourishing words. It’s going to be okay. It will all work out. Right now, we are okay. If it’s not serious we tend to go on about other topics.
When my son gets upset, I bring a calm energy and talk quietly with him. I don’t ask him “What’s wrong?” I ask, “What’s up? What’s going on? What are you feeling?” Something more neutral than the word wrong. I don’t want him to get the idea that whatever he is feeling is wrong. Feelings are feelings, no right or wrong. We are all entitled to whatever feelings come up without feeling like they are right or wrong. I let him tell me how he’s feeling and why. I say something like, “I understand. I am here. It will be okay.” I might suggest a breathing moment or a calming activity, but he is usually ready to move on pretty quickly.
When my mother in law, with dementia, asks about my day for the 50th time at dinner, I can get frustrated and answer in an unkind tone, or I can breathe slow and answer with a kind tone of voice being present to the idea that to her, it is the first time she’s asked. Remaining present and aware of the idea that she cannot help it. She no longer controls her brain or her mouth, but just like everyone else, she needs loving kindness. I can bring her loving kindness when I answer for the 50th time how my day was or the 100th time she asks. I can send it out in my tone of voice and in my smile. I can send it with my eyes when I look at her to answer her. I can do these things, because I can control my mouth and my actions. I recognize that my energy affects hers. I do my best.
That’s the magical part. I do my best. None of this is how I think and respond all the time. No one is perfect. This is a practice. A daily practice of remembering we are all connected, my energy affects others, I can handle this, I cannot control them, I can control me, they are entitled to their feelings, so am I, give yourself grace, give them grace, loving kindness helps us all, etc. I’m not saying that life isn’t ever going to throw negative shit at you either. Yes in general, I think you get back what you put out, but life is still going to happen. Negative forces will be out there muddying up shit. Negative and unkind things still come from my mouth sometimes. You might even catch me making “big eyeballs” at someone when I really want to say something unkind. But if you are the type of person that puts out a loving energy for others, then more often than not, others will probably put out a loving energy for you. You will be more aware of your own energy and capable of handling the negative when it comes because there will also be positive coming in right behind it. Practicing daily helps to strengthen this compassion muscle and I like to think that it can always get stronger. In other words, we are never perfect. We can always practice. If we quit practicing, the muscle will get weak again. So this practice is important for you, but because we’re all connected, it’s also important for others! Compassion is a virtuous cycle! If you give it, you will receive it. The more of it there is out there, the more it will grow and become available for others.
Peace & Light,