I’ve crossed paths with the above quote a few times before (preferably accompanied by punctuation), but this week was the first time I’ve actually talked about it with my second graders.
We all have our histories, our stories, our tangible moments that weave our personal reality. We all have our own versions of “us” floating through our own minds. Now, these versions may or may not actually (or even accurately) reflect the events or experiences that make us us, but they are what we choose to remember. They are the ongoing movie reel of what shapes and conditions our reactions, our judgements, and our self-talk. Things that others say to us end up in this movie and can become that voice in the back of our minds that convincingly whispers in times of indecision. Things that we hear others declare end up in this movie and become a level of expectation to which we somehow hold ourselves when our path becomes foggy. Things that ended up that one way that one time end up in this movie to dictate how all the things will end up all of the future times… and here’s the worst part: It is way easier for the negative “things” to end up in this movie than the positive ones. Seriously? Why is that? How do those negative strings of words and body language hold so much damn power over us? How can we shift the conditioning of our brains towards more frequently bonding connections with positive interactions rather than negative or harshly judging ones?
Could it be that a pause to be intentionally kind, as suggested by the above quote, is one way to release the grasp of those pesky negative movie reels? If we all just take an extra breath before we react, and we pause for those extra few seconds to see glimpses of the humanity that surrounds us? To see that we’re not the only ones who are going through struggles? To see that the person standing in front of us may also feel like they’re being dragged through the shit piles (don’t worry – I didn’t use that example with my second graders) of their day, their week, their year?
What else can we do to flip that movie script? How can we be more gentle to ourselves, build our resilience, and grow our levels of compassion as we navigate this nutso world?
Here are some suggestions from seven-year-olds:
- look the other person in the eye
- listen with your heart
- remember that you can try something differently the next time
- smile when you see people
- ask them to read with you
- just remember that tomorrow’s a brand new day