“Mindful May” Strategies for School Psychologists – Acceptance

Hi school psych friends! It’s the “100 Days of May” -where we have 100 days of work to do and only 31 in which to do it– and this is the second video in my “Mindful May” series on how to apply the science of happiness in our day-to-day life as school psychologists to get through challenging times. Watch this 4 minute video (and meet a furry friend of mine too!). Transcript of my chat with y’all is below, if you enjoy reading. 🙂

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Hey, everybody! It’s Rebecca again. How are you? It’s the weekend, and no I’m not inside writing a report! I’m out on a walk with my dog, Misty. So, I was walking around, and I had this epiphany that I really wanted to share with you about our profession as school psychologists.

So as many of you know, I’ve been researching the science of happiness, and one of the tenets, things that makes us happier, is acceptance, right? And so acceptance is just acknowledging your emotions. So, when you’re frustrated, saying, “I’m frustrated,” and when I’m upset, saying, “Gosh, I’m upset.” And we know this, when we’re working with kids, right? We say it all the time—you need to acknowledge your feelings. And the reason for that is because it taps into your frontal lobe and reduces the amygdala reaction of whatever it is that’s stressing you out. So it’s super important, right?

But here’s the thing: I had an aha moment when I was walking with my dog Misty here, and that is that there’s a difference between acceptance, which is, “I have a million cases, and I’m stressed about this,” and acknowledging that, versus resignation, “This is how it’s always going to be. This district is horrible, I’m only going to be able to test and have an IEP and repeat my whole life.”

So here’s where I think it’s really fascinating: You don’t have to accept that! And the reason I know that is because I’ve been working with over a hundred school psychologists this past year, and in my work with them I have found people to find ways to change their situation, right? Even in “dysfunctional districts” they’re able to make these amazing changes because they accept that they’re stressed right now, but they don’t resign themselves that this is how it’s totally going to be all the time.

And so I’ve seen the school psychologists I’ve worked with cut their caseloads in half, and I’ve seen school psychologists finally do that counseling program they’ve been tabling for years, and it’s so inspiring, because I know that you guys have the power to change. Now, here’s the thing, and I’ve been reading a lot about like the law of attraction, which a lot of it I think can sort of feel weird, like The Secret [book], like, “Oh, if I just think it, it’ll happen.” And that’s not exactly how the law of attraction works for school psychologists. It’s not like, “Oh, I just think I’m not going to have a 60-day deadline and I won’t,” right? It’s not that.

It’s about putting yourself out there and noticing and setting an intention and saying it out loud that opens up your eyes to opportunities. So it’s sort of like the universe didn’t send me a new car, but once I got this particular car, I started noticing it everywhere. I’m like, “Oh, they have one, and they have one,” right? So I start noticing things I normally wouldn’t notice, and so when you send an intention out there, “I am going to start an MTSS program that’s going to reduce my referrals; I am going to create a counseling program that’s going to keep students from blowing out of the classroom,” your mind starts opening up to the possibility of, “Oh, how do I make that happen?” And then when opportunities come your way, there you are, and your brain’s ready to absorb it.

So anyway, these are my weekend musings! You guys are always on my mind! Let’s think about that this week. Let’s think about as we are wrapping up the end of this school year and starting next year, what can we do?

There’s a difference between accepting “I’m stressed right now,” acknowledging it, and that controls our amygdala reaction and activates problem-solving in the frontal lobe, and that’s all great for the science of happiness, but also are we resigning ourselves to thinking, “This is how it’s always going to be”?

And I just want to put it out there to you guys, is there anything you thought was never going to change in your district and then all of a sudden, “Oh, my gosh, I put it out there, and it happened for me”? Or you witnessed a colleague do this? I would love for you guys to share that with us because it would be so inspiring.

So me and my girl Misty are going to take another lap! All right you guys, I’ll check in with you later. Bye, guys!

Rebecca Branstetter is a school psychologist and the creator of the Thriving School Psychologist Collective™, a professional development learning community for school psychologists. To learn how to have your weekends free from report-writing (and earn NASP-approved CPD credits doing it!) visit www.thrivingschoolpsych.com/mentor.

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