Mindfully Healing from Hurt and Feelings of Revenge: What it is at Heart and What is on the Surface Can Be Very Different
Teachers know just how traumatized both adults and children have felt this past year, with all of the political tension and ongoing COVID crisis. As we hope for a more positive year ahead, mindfulness can be the first step in letting go of pain, but it has to be used in a trusting space, with awareness of what we as teachers and our students might be facing.
In his book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, David Treleaven makes clear that this exposure can come in many ways, from directly experiencing or witnessing a trauma or from learning about what happened to a relative, loved one or close friend. Children are especially vulnerable. One in four children in the U. S. have experienced physical abuse, one in five sexual. Then we add a pandemic, political instability, and oppression, whether it be sexism or violence directed at one’s gender identity, race or religion, etc. and we have a huge number of people who have suffered from trauma. We have not just a coronavirus pandemic but a pandemic of extreme emotions like hate and a craving for revenge….
The desire for revenge can exert a powerful and complex influence on our state of mind. It is especially compelling today, due to the pandemic and the divisiveness, anger, pain, and raw feeling engulfing so many of us. It can lock our thinking firmly on a target and send our energy speeding towards it, as if that target were the source of all our ills.
And like many emotions, what it is at its heart and what at the surface can be very different. If we don’t understand what’s at the heart, then whatever action we take in response will at best fall short; at worst, it will make our life even worse.
So, we must ask⎼ what is most important for us? To make the person who hurt us hurt in return, or to feel stronger in ourselves? Remember, the consequences of whatever we do might be totally different from what we imagine they will be.
By carefully and compassionately considering the intentions of others as well as our own actions, and truthfully examining our motivations, we have already become stronger, more aware, and increased the chances that whatever actions we take will be of benefit not only to ourselves but others.
And by easing student anxiety we decrease our own and make instruction easier on all concerned. We need to be kind to ourselves, share with other teachers, and keep in mind how important our work is.
**Published by MindfulTeachers.org.