I recently came across a post on Instagram that said, “If it’s not a yes, it’s a no.” It reminded me of a concept I love called “the full-bodied yes.”
As teachers, we say “yes” a lot. We say “yes” to students who need extra help after school. We say “yes” to our colleagues who need extra support during our prep period. We say “yes” to chaperoning prom, to after-school parent conferences, to grading papers over the weekend, to writing new curriculum, and the list goes on (you know what I mean, teachers!)
But, how often do we say “yes” when we really mean, “I’m not sure,” or “no” ? Or, how often do we say “yes” when what we mean is, “I really can’t fathom adding anther thing to my plate, but I know you need it and you expect me to give it and I don’t want to deal with disappointed you or making you upset.”
More often that not, I imagine. (My job is to support teachers is not doing this, and yes, I still do it, too).
So, the concept of the full-bodied yes. Part of what we do at The Teaching Well is help teachers get in touch with their bodies. We support nutrition, mindfulness, self-reflection and self-awareness for many reasons. But one of the reasons we do that is because we need to be able to feel our bodies say “yes” and “no.” Our bodies are actually very intelligent life forms, and they give us an incredible amount of information if we allow them to.
When someone asks you to do something, see how your body feels when you say “yes.” Does it feel excited, giddy, purposeful, joyful, full, peaceful, energized, calm? Or, does it feel anxious, tired, tight, fearful, heavy, resentful and weighed down?
Though we may feel that it’s always best to say yes, it really isn’t. If we say yes when we mean no, we set ourselves up for resentment, exhaustion and burn-out.
Next time you get the opportunity to say “yes” or “no,” at school or at home, try to pause and check in with your body first. Listen to the message it’s giving you. Then, take a deep breath and answer with either a full-bodied “yes”, or another truthful statement like “no” or “I’m not sure.”
It’s not easy at first, but healthy self-awareness and honest communication are essential to sustainable school sites. Try it—just once, and see what happens. Start to tap your well within, and watch how life at school changes.
(Director of the Los Angeles region)