Recently our ever-so-curious STLC group of students and I ventured into a discussion and activity that revolved around being aware of our habits. And taking a look at habits that serve us AND those that do NOT serve us…including habits that do not serve those around us, as well. We began by coming up with a definition that we could use together.
ha-bit: something that one does over and over, often without realizing it; something that seems a part of you because you have done it for so long; something that is hard to break, but that is NOT impossible to stop with awareness and effort.
We each thought for a few moments and then wrote down two habits that we thought did not serve us or the people around us. Then, with the willingness of everyone in our group (which humbles me and brings gratitude that our students feel safe enough with each other to do this) we passed our lists around and others added to them with habits they have noticed for that person that do not serve. I was touched by the thoughtfulness that most students put into this exercise, being realistic about what they listed for each other in the spirit of contributing awareness without criticism or harshness.
We each ended up with our lists, and most took them home so that a parent could add to it. Then we met again and began a dialogue about how to transform these “repeated acts” so that our community could merge together in even deeper ways…and so that we as individuals could move past these things that seemed SO much a part of our personalities or daily expressions of ourselves. We continued our dialogue, as we each identified and took on one habit that we felt would improve our life most by transforming it.
As I have been letting this conversation sit and wanting to offer to our brainstorming about HOW to transform some of these actions, it came to me to think about what the habit wants...what do I want or need that pushes me to a habit that either doesn’t serve those around me or even myself? So I was thinking about interrupting, which was on my personal list. It is something that I do NOT like to find myself doing, but at times I am very aware that I am doing just that. So I asked myself about the reasons that I interrupt. Sometimes it is due to a time frame, other times it is my intention to move a conversation along, or to be heard right in that moment, or even to attempt to keep someone from going down a dialogue road that I think does not serve him/her. Well, just this awareness helps me to strategize in a different way in order to meet those needs in a more effective and compassionate way. Hip, hip, hooray!
I know that the first step is being aware of the habit, and then having a sincere desire to not do that anymore because of the understanding that there is a better way. And I am thinking that IF I am aware of what I am trying to get when I interrupt (or participate in any other habit) I could be more mindful to adopt a strategy that would work for me AND the person with which I am engaging.
For example, I can see already that I could have a more effective conversation when I have time restraints by requesting at the beginning of the conversation that we take turns in our discussion, and/or share that I have just 10 minutes, or whatever, and then perhaps agreeing that we could continue at another time if one or both of us doesn’t feel heard or understood in that specific time frame. It sounds like such a simple idea, but it is a beginning.
It has been fun to see how this awareness is helping each of us to discover strategies that are serving us more effectively, and to be able to leave those that do not…behind. And once again I see the sweet and potent value of community…a group that continues to take bold steps to be open and compassionate with one another…it (Love) truly does make the world go ’round.
written by Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc.