For the last few days I’ve been wanting to write something profound ahead of Bell Let’s Talk Day.
I’m a writer or a want to be writer so I felt compelled to write, but the words just weren’t there until 11:30 last night.
We talk about mental health and we make a point to discuss it frequently in class which is truly empowering, and quite honestly the most provocative and rewarding topics that I cover in PDCP (Personal Development and Career Planning), but part of me now more than ever is very hesitate using the word resilient.
As parents, teachers and coaches we use that word all the time. We throw it around, we use it to empower and inspire, but I really hope it doesn’t mask our students or players true feelings and emotions.
In my darkest days, I learned how to be resilient, but I still needed to talk to someone. I still needed to know someone was there. I still needed to know someone would listen. It’s ok to be resilient, but it’s always ok to talk.
Sometimes I feel unappreciated. Sometimes I feel down. Sometimes my mind races with negative thoughts. Negativity, is that how it all starts?
Wait you have to be resilient. You have to be strong.
Sometimes I feel weak or vulnerable, and if I’ve learned anything standing in front of a class for the past 18 years, or behind the bench that it is perfectly fine, to feel vulnerable, because students and players have an uncanny ability to see the human side of the teacher or coach in that moment.
They see the pain, they see how you are feeling, they see the struggle. Hopefully we as the teachers or coaches have taught them those skills.
To recognize, identify and check in, if they sense a friend or family member or anyone for that matter isn’t well that’s the most important skill we can ever teach them.
I make sure to tell my students often that they will never know what the person beside us on the bus or in the hallway or the classroom are going through.
We may never know their story, but we have to acknowledge peoples’ existence. Ok, I stole that line from Craig Kielburger, but it’s so true.
Do players or students these days truly feel appreciated? Do they feel anything at all? Do they feel connected? Do they feel a sense of belonging or do they always feel unappreciated?
Do we tell our students or players what they mean to us enough?
Do we acknowledge their existence or do we just go on and teach the curriculum or coach the press break or the break out or the power play without really checking on them or ourselves enough?
In the back of our minds do we feel that we are teaching them resiliency by showing how strong we are?
We all struggle, we all have negative thoughts that seep in, but do we really talk enough about those feelings or emotions?
Do we really talk at all?
I try to tell every class every semester almost on a biweekly basis to make sure they are open to see or sense that a person may not being doing well mentally.
Sure I teach the value of being resilient, but I also tell them that greatest strength that we have in this day and age is the ability to ask for help. In my opinion, asking for help is the greatest sign of courage.
We talk about resiliency and it may very well be the new buzz word in sport or education or in our society for that matter, but what happens to the player or student that walks into the dressing room or classroom where just showing up in many cases is the most resilient thing that person can do. As a teacher and former coach, I believe that to be one of the most unappreciated aspects of resiliency, we have to embrace every student and player we need to be open, we need to create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable approaching us. We need to change the question from why to what? What has happened to them rather than why are they acting this way?
We all know the value of resiliency, we all know we have to empower our students and players, but we all need to keep talking and sharing. We know the importance of creating awareness and a safe comfortable environment in which to discuss mental health.
BUT, we should never lose sight of the importance of asking for help. That might be the most unappreciated skill of them all.
Everyone needs someone to talk to , everyone needs someone to listen, everyone needs to some check in.
The simplest question may in fact create a life altering discussion.