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24. Regarding Uncomfortable Feelings pt. 5

Listen in Spanish:

Listen in English:

Good Morning Families, today is Friday, April 24th 2020 and it’s now time for our moment of SEL.

Dearest students, thank you for your feedback and thank you for the opportunity you provided me to use self-reflection, incorporate new information, makes changes where necessary, (called adaptation) and move forward.

In honor of your comments yesterday, I have shortened todays moment of SEL to just 50 minutes. Pysch. JK, it’s much shorter.

Yesterday you brought up the SEL skill of self-reflection. It’s a great thing to use. It means spending time allowing your focus to be on your inward selves. What makes you, you? What are your values, character, desires, thoughts, opinions, hopes, goals, how do you process, how do you act in different places, with different people, yada, yada, yada. If you approach yourself with curiosity and openness, and not judgment, you may discover things that are very helpful and things that maybe are not as helpful. Self-reflection can produce understanding, acceptance, and even a strengthen of resolve, or a present a new direction forward, where there may have been amiss.

Whenever you take in new information you have the opportunity for self-reflection to see how the new information gels with what you already know or how you already think. Sometimes it confirms the thoughts and feelings you already have, and sometimes it confronts the thoughts and feelings you already had. Both are important. Try not to succumb to the fear that can come from new information that challenges you’re already held beliefs. And try not to be blind to information that doesn’t. Challenging information is not always bad and confirming information is not always good. Don’t make me retell my “baby bird in the nest” story.

Yesterday, I took in new information. Particularly when my students pointed out that they might be experiencing uncomfortable feelings from the way I’m presenting social emotional learning. That’s good to know, and I appreciate them telling me. They are right. Communication matters.

I love SEL. The language is very similar to the language of music. Both music and SEL have very small and efficient languages. 12 notes in western tonal music, a handful of skills in SEL, both with very basic rhythmic structures. However, in the skillful hands of an artist these simple languages can be combined to produce tremendous works of art, Variations for Orchestra, Brilliant Corners, Naked City, Social Learning Theory, Emotional Intelligence, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. But all the creators of things were not only gifted in the language of their arts, they were also able to communicate it to others either through the language of words or of performance. That’s how we can reference them. The communication becomes part of the expression. And what I heard yesterday was, “you’re yelling into the wind.” And see, I’m looking at my own kindergartener right now and he is just shaking his head.

Self-reflection can be a very powerful tool when experiencing uncomfortable feelings. However, if you aren’t mindful of how you approach yourself, you could wind up not treating yourself to self-reflection, but instead find yourself stuck in the uncomfortable feelings and the uncomfortable thoughts that either accompany or inform those feelings.

The trap of dwelling on uncomfortable feelings without trying to understand and interpret them as useful information is called rumination. When you are ruminating on something you are thinking about it over and over and over again. Most likely deeply, without any movement forward. It’s like wanting to go to friend’s house to play but jumping on a stationary bike to ride to their house. You’re not going anywhere.

Next time you are experiencing uncomfortable feelings, see if you can recognize if you are approaching yourself with kindness, with openness, with curiosity, or if you are just cycling through the same uncomfortable feelings over and over again.

If you notice you are ruminating, label what you are doing. Say to yourself, “I am ruminating. I am thinking the same loop over and over again.” Then ask yourself, is that helping me move forward or just causing me to feel bad. Don’t judge yourself for ruminating, just recognize that’s what is happening.

It you are having a hard time recognizing rumination try to recognize if you find yourself experiencing uncomfortable feelings lasting longer than you wish they would. If you notice this, try using your self-awareness questions. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking?” “How I am I feeling in my body?” “How do I want to express myself?” “How can I express myself?”

Sometimes you can spot rumination on uncomfortable feelings if you can notice when you are sinking into what Martin Seligman refers to as the 3 Ps. That is, when things happen and you recognize that you have uncomfortable feelings about those things that have happened, you find yourself explaining why those things happened as personal, pervasive, and permanent. Personal would be words like, “only me”, as in “this only happens to me” or “why me” or “of course, me”. Pervasive would be experiencing some uncomfortable feelings in one aspect of your life but projecting that experience on everything in your life. You might hear yourself say, “everything is ruined”, “it’s all terrible”. And permanent would be words like always, or never as in “I’ll always feel this way”, “I’ll never get over this”, “This will last forever.”

If you notice that style of thinking or explaining, there’s a chance you might be ruminating.

In using my self-reflection what I noticed is that, I enjoyed hearing the student voices more than I enjoyed hearing my own. In fact, in effort to move out of this box, I’d like to open an invitation to any student who would like to share a moment of SEL with us.

Do you have some thoughts and feelings about thoughts and feelings? We have the technology to record you, even from far away. Don’t feel any undo pressure. In fact, you or your parents can email me at and we can work out what you want to say, and how we’ll be able to record you saying it.

No rush, I’ll keep on jawing until we get some folks. I’ll also watch my language. Oh and a big shout-out to two 5th graders who managed the English and Spanish yesterday. Very nice to hear your voices.

I look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, on Monday. Until Monday, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.

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