Releasing control is at the forefront of my personal joy work, so I will be sharing a little of my journey over the next few weeks. Check out Part 1 of this series.
Now let me tell you this. There is a big difference between releasing and retreating. I would tend to retreat when dealing with negative emotions. For me that meant shutting people and things out of my life as if they had never even existed. After years and years of retreating, I realized how truly lonely I was without genuine lasting connections. Retreating put me in isolation emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
In Part I of this series, I talked about how I use strategies to intentionally work on releasing control. Well, what I didn’t mention was that I did not intentionally choose this particular journey, I had no choice. It’s not like I woke up one day and said, Oh I gotta start releasing control. See a few years ago, I became an assistant principal and I was so excited about entering my first year. I decided to take my two children to my new school with me and thought it would be a great moment in time for all of us. Mostly, I thought it would help my son with his behavior in school, knowing that his momma was right in the building. Well things didn’t go as planned…as I had so perfectly played out in my mind. My son’s behavior escalated to the point where he could barely stay in his classroom for an entire day. This unfolded in front of the entire school in the most dramatic of ways…and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it. I was hurt, embarrassed, scared, and well angry. In my mind, I had this perfect plan that was going to fix everything…if everyone had only just stepped in line with the plan that I had sacrificed so much to make happen. The situation left me wide open. I couldn’t retreat.
Through this experience I learned that releasing control meant being more vulnerable than I ever imagined I could be. It wasn’t so much about accepting everything around me as it was about being able to accept myself- my heart, my mind, my emotions, my challenges, my strengths, my fears and on and on. Being able to accept myself means I don’t have to hide through my negative emotions. Sometimes, it’s just going to play out all messy and not in the most ideal circumstances. Learning to accept my own mess allows me to see others in a different light and makes me work harder to sustain my relationships and just stay… well…in life. I want to also share with you that releasing control will allow you to use your experiences, even the most hurtful ones, to help yourself and others. My experiences that year encouraged me to publish my first children’s book, Back to Zero, which focuses on helping kids handle BIG emotions while they are at school. This topic has become a passion of mine, has shifted my thinking on responding to challenging behavior, and has allowed me to connect with hundreds and hundreds of teachers, parents, and students, as we all strive to better navigate challenges.
Well, even in the process of learning to accept ourselves and others there are still those ideals that we have that make it difficult to stray from how we think people and things ought to be in our world and the world around us. When we hold on too tightly to these ideas in our professional lives as educators as well as in our personal lives it can be difficult to sustain joy…at least for me it is. I’ll talk more about this next week.
Love, Dr. Joy