In 2020, I thought and spoke a lot about expectations vs acceptance.
I looked into the negative effects of having unrealistic expectations vs accepting where we currently are and going from there.
However, the more I look into the idea of acceptance, for me, I think it's like an iceberg. There is so much below the surface that comes along with accepting where we currently are.
Does it mean we have to be content with where we are? Does it mean we have to stay where we are? Does it mean we don't strive for more and look at other possibilities?
After deliberation on these questions and their impacts I decided there is more to acceptance and wanted to delve deeper into it.
Passive acceptance doesn't need any action other than documenting the decision.
Active acceptance is to accept your circumstances and then adjust to them by doing what you can to make them better.
While thinking about this idea, I have also been looking into Maslow's hierarchy of needs. And don't get me wrong I know that some days, weeks and even months during 2020 all we could do is look after our basic needs and survive. For many this is still a reality in 2021.
When food is low on the shelves, job security is uncertain, toilet roll is in high demand and life in general is unstable, we may find ourselves going straight into survival mode and staying there until it is safe to come out.
But what does 'staying there until it is safe to come out' do with the control we have over ourselves and those around us?
When we are looking to others for answers, when we are putting our trust in 'experts' and they may not have all the answers yet. How does that impact us when we are already feeling vulnerable?
I think that comes to why I felt the need to delve deeper into this. Acceptance for me in recent years has been accepting where I am at and where others are and then moving forward from there.
However, in recent times I have seen numerous examples of leaders on smaller scales and larger scales creating different levels of uncertainty and lack of direction for those they are leading which means we go straight down to the bottom of the hierarchy as the certainty of our basic needs are getting taken away from us.
This in turn means many people, including myself, can resort to 'passive acceptance'. Which I take to mean, accepting what we are being told with no response or critique. 'That's the way things are done around here' or 'That's just the way it is.'
Now when I was looking at the opposite of acceptance words like 'disobedience, defiance, resistance, hostility etc' came up.
But I think the term that has interested me the most during my research into this is active acceptance.
Which as I mentioned above means, accept your circumstances and then adjust to them by doing what you can to make them better.
I think this is the Goldilocks ‘just right’ term for me, right now, as I think it gives me hope that there are other options, not just passively accepting or actively defying.
I look back at one of my worst days during our move to Japan during one of the first waves of COVID last year.
It was looking like:
And I had just got off the phone from a very unhelpful person in customer service. I just broke down. Crying. We had prepared for a bumpy ride considering we were moving during a pandemic but this day it all just felt like everywhere I looked, there was a wall.
So, after a wee while of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to change where I was looking.
Instead of looking at all the bad things that were going wrong. I decided to look at where I had come from and where I wanted to go next.
I looked through photos of all the people I had met along our journeys so far. All the faces who had supported us. The Naomi who left her first teaching job in London vs the Naomi about to take the next leap. There were big changes. And I owed a lot of those changes to the people who supported me but also to all the obstacles I had faced so far and the growth I experienced because of them.
I share this story because I think gratitude, perspective taking and practical optimism can help when we are facing challenging times.
After I had taken a different perspective on my current circumstances I was able to approach it in a different way. From that day forward during our move I was able to face the obstacles with a lot more strength. I was able to understand that these obstacles were part of our process.
Yes, I still got angry when responding to unhelpful customer service reps. Yes, I still cried when I left Rob at the airport, not knowing when I was going to see him again. And yes, I did have doubts about moving alone when I was sitting in quarantine for two weeks in a country I couldn’t even say hello correctly.
But the difference was, when I felt all those things I looked at the wider picture and what I could control and taking action where I could.
I am still looking into the idea of active acceptance. I understand many of us have different circumstances occurring in our lives right now and there is no right or wrong way to approach living through a pandemic.
I just wanted to share my experience so far along with my takeaways from the journey!
So going back to my first statement in this post. 'Where do I think Empathetic Educators can have an impact?'
Going forward we will be using the Empathetic Educator's 'Tree of life' to bring together lots of different topics. As you can see we have 6 foundations that our whole vision is rooted in which I touched upon today.
Growth. Relationships. Accountability. Systems. Challenge. Perspectives.
Because we believe your power is within your G.R.A.S.C.P.
I want to help us as adults as well as the children in our care to have the power to better understand ourselves and those around us. And in turn help take action in our own lives as well as a have a positive impact on the lives of others.
I look forward to having you on board and hearing your perspectives and life experiences.
Join us live this weekend live on this link as we begin Season 3 looking at Accountability and Challenges with Evo Hannan, David Lee and Richard Gerver.
Our choices have an impact what impact are you going to have?