Cultivating Mindfulness in How we React to Others

This afternoon I attended the most beautiful class on mindfulness in dealing with children. The main focus was remembering to take a moment (or two or three…) to breathe and disconnect from our own emotional triggers before responding to challenging situations. The key words there are react and respond. When we respond, we no longer let the situation control us. I definitely needed a refresher on this lesson.

Sometimes when I feel students are not listening to me, I become frustrated, angry even. I tense up and regain control through dominance instead of quiet patience. As I reflected on why I become so upset, I realized I react based on my own hunger for respect. Growing up as a small, quiet girl, people constantly underestimated me, a reality that carried over to the beginning of my teaching career as feedback often included my quiet nature.

By taking a moment to breathe and be mindful of my reaction/response, I give myself the chance to determine the best course of action for my students, instead of the emotionally obvious one. I have grown in my ability to respond with calm resolve over the past year, but those stressful moments are still there, lurking at the end of a long day. As I prepare to return to the classroom, I am mindful of how I will stop, breathe, and disconnect from emotional triggers before I respond.

I don’t expect you to answer, because these are personal questions, but maybe you could benefit from similar reflection: When do you react with emotion instead of responding in the best interest of both yourself and others? Why do these moments draw such a reaction out of you?

Just ordered this book recommended during class today-- anyone want to join me for an August book club reading?

Just ordered this book recommended during class today– anyone want to join me for an August reading?

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10 thoughts on “Cultivating Mindfulness in How we React to Others

  1. melanie says:

    Oh my goodness girl. I was just working on a post that goes right with this. I am that same quiet girl. And by default, MJ is too. And a few weeks ago we did something pretty amazing. (Stay tuned for the post). I think the thing that sets me into reaction mode is when I am 1) scared and feel like I don’t have control (like when Ian’s blood sugar is really low) and 2) when I feel disrespected (be it in the classroom, with a co-worker, or at home.) I know that the 2nd reason stems from some emotional abuse I’ve been through. I am going to look up this book later after dinner. I’m so in!

    • olivia says:

      Can’t wait to read your related post(s) and hear about your adventure with MJ! So interesting that you connect to those same feelings. My triggers are definitely those two things. Let me know if you decide to buy the book– no idea how readable it is, just liked the title and the related ideas brought up during the class 🙂

  2. says:

    Hey OlivIa, what a beautiful post. I notice myself doing the same thing when I am in the classroom, reacting and I think it is because I am not in the present moment, always thinking of the schedule, the kids’ IEP goals, transitioning, etc., and feeling things are out of my control, which sometimes they are — these are kids — and that is okay. I am also generally a quiet person and introverted, and sometimes I think people see me as passive, and I do not want people to see me that way, especially in the classroom, but I think that okay? May be? And I am learning to just breathe before I do or say something, something that helped me later in the year was thinking “what would the Dalai Lama do, and most of the time I just hugged the kids — I work with little ones. I am definitively interested in joining you for the August book club. Thanks for the suggestion and the invite!!

    • olivia says:

      Thanks– so interesting how so many teachers share such similar personality types and challenges. I agree, definitely alright to be more quiet and introverted, I just teach in a school system that is somewhat opposite, so I have overcompensated to fit in and am now navigating back to a more peaceful, natural style for myself. I love that question– What would the Dalai Lama do? Definitely puts any response into a mindful perspective. Excited you’re interested in the book, can’t wait to get my copy in the mail!

  3. I think it’s great that you’re able to recognize when your frustration level is about to overtake you and you’re able to take a step back. That’s so much better for both you and the children you work with. Wish everyone were so good at recognizing and responding to their own triggers before damage is done. Kudos to you for working on this.

    • olivia says:

      Thanks Kitt, it’s definitely a work in progress 😉 Just such an amazing difference in those moments where I’m able to make it work, not just happier kids, but happier me, too.

  4. Tanya says:

    Just the title of that book intrigues me! Just the sort of message I need right now. Can’t wait to hear how you like it!

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