We think about mindfulness as an in-the-moment practice. But we can also be reflective about events that have already occurred in a way that brings more clarity to our continued perseveration over those events. In Mindfulness for Teachers, Tish Jennings talks about our “scripts” that we have around students, parents, and colleagues that impact how we react to them. If we cannot clearly see our own stories about the people around us, we both add layers of difficulty to our own experience and are unable to respond effectively to what is happening.
I spent Friday with a group of 40 educators, and we took some time to consider our scripts about kids/parents/colleagues and their behaviors as a way of gaining a deeper understanding of what is happening in those moments we find difficult.
As a practice, we took a recent event that was emotionally triggering with a student, parent, or colleague and teased it apart:
(1) OBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE: As best we could, describe what actually happened, without layers of judgement or conjecture.
(2) SCRIPT: What story did we have about that person and about ourselves in relationship to that person?
(3) EMOTIONS: What emotional response did that script about that event trigger?
By breaking it down, we noted that we gained some empathy for the other. We could more easily see how our thoughts played a role in the interaction as much as the event itself. We thought we could more easily go into the next interaction with that person as we would want to, open-hearted and present, with the script noted and checked.
Try taking apart a difficult interaction in this way and see if you can gain any clarity into your own narrative.