0
8 Feb 2022

Because I Felt Like It!

Ever wondered, ‘Why is my child/student acting this way? Why are they being rude, disrespectful or hurtful? That’s not like them.’

Ever asked, ‘Why did you do/say that?’

Here’s why: Emotions.

I’m sure you have heard this response to the above questions… ‘because I felt like it!’… and it’s probably true.

A circumstance happened that caused them to feel frustrated, worried, upset, angry or stressed. However, the circumstance wasn’t the only reason for the behaviour, the circumstance triggered an emotion and the child reacted out of that emotion causing a behaviour.

Since emotions are super easy to react out of, they can easily impact choices leading your child/student’s to behave in a way that is not their character.

The next time they have a behaviour that doesn’t reflect who you know they are, instead of asking ‘why did you do that?’

ASK: ‘What emotion were you feeling when you did or said that?’

Watch my video to learn more about my take on behaviour & emotions.

Until next time…

11 Dec 2021

Your Mindset: Friend or Foe?

Your mindset can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

This what I know: Your mindset matters! It determines what you are willing to experience, ideas you are open to and who you see when you look in the mirror. Changing your mindset doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by choice.

Here are 4 simple effective ways to train your mindset to be your friend:

1) Add the word YET at the end of a thought to give Hope and Growth. Ex: ‘I’m not good at that … yet.’ The simple word YET reminds you that your efforts will pay off and that there is room to learn and grow.

2) Mind over Matter. Instead of choosing to focus on the obstacles that are in your way – focus on what you want to achieve. Acknowledge the obstacles and then choose to focus on your desired end result to keep you motivated.

3) Affirmations. What you tell yourself and repeat, over time will be what you believe. Choose your thoughts wisely. ‘I’m not enough’ will create a very different feeling than repeating ‘I am enough’. Only you have the power to choose what you tell yourself.

4) Gratitude. Choosing to focus on something you are grateful for is a powerful mindset shift that boosts happiness and helps you bounce back from challenging times and move though tough emotions. Since your brain can only focus on one thought at a time – choosing to look at what you are grateful for (especially during difficult times and mistakes made) is a powerful practice that strengthens resilience.

Until next time…

sara westbrook signature
14 Apr 2021

You Can Do This!

With the current announcement of students not going back to in-person learning after the April Break and with everything else going on in our world, there are many emotions being felt.

Allow yourself to feel.

Keep reaching out – sharing – talking with respect for self & others.

Let’s keep supporting one another.

Resilience isn’t a solo event – it takes a community.

Your feelings may be BIG but our Strength together is BIGGER and Stronger!

Until next time…

30 Nov 2020

Guess What We All have in Common?

‘What emotion are you feeling?’

When you think about truly sharing your emotions, would you prefer to leave the conversation or conveniently find something else to talk about? Maybe it’s because you don’t know how you are feeling or maybe you want to shout ‘none of your business!’ Or is it because you think sharing emotions makes you look weak?

EXPRESSING EMOTIONS CAN BE TOUGH.

As human beings we enjoy feeling comfortable – ever heard a mattress commercial? All the marketing company has to do is focus on how comfortable the mattress is – SOLD!  We LOVE comfortable. Emotions are not always comfortable. They are messy, awkward and can feel down-right painful both mentally and physically.

You may be able to fool yourself into believing that by ignoring or suppressing emotions you won’t have to face them. Wrong. Not acknowledging your emotions causes burnout, health challenges, anxiety, and strained relationships

EMOTIONS AREN’T YOUR ENEMY.

Emotions are a natural and normal part of the human experience. Emotions are the one thing we all have in common. We may not have experienced the same circumstances – but we have all felt angry, sad, anxious, frustrated, disappointed and overwhelmed. Isn’t it comforting to know you’re not alone?

SURPRISE! EXPRESSING YOUR EMOTIONS HELPS:

  • boost happiness
  • reduce stress & anxiety
  • build resilience
  • improve communication
  • establish stronger relationships
  • create empathy
  • bring harmony and well-being to your mental and physical state

Instead of suppressing your emotions, use these 3 ways to help you move with and through your emotions:

1. NAME YOUR EMOTIONS 

There is a release that happens just in saying your emotion out loud, ‘I’m feeling sad.’ It makes it feel less intense. Acknowledge your emotions, instead of making yourself feel bad, wrong or weak for feeling. Next time someone asks, ‘how are you feeling?’ tell them. You are allowed to feel. You are supposed to feel. You will also be giving permission to others to speak up about their emotions.

2. RELEASE EMOTIONS IN A HEALTHY WAY

Create a list of healthy ways to move through your emotions. This will help you get clear about strategies that are helpful. Post it somewhere that will serve as a reminder. When you are experiencing an uncomfortable emotion you can easily forget what helps you move through.

3. FIND YOUR CALM

Being able to calm yourself in the moment from tough emotions and overwhelming circumstances is often easier said than done. Knowing ways to help you relax and decrease stress will calm your mind and body quickly. If one way doesn’t work for you, try another one. Some of my favourites are paying attention to my breath, relaxing with a cup of tea or coffee, humming or singing and watering my plants.

You would never take dead batteries, place them in a flashlight and expect it to shine – yet there are times you will drain yourself emotionally and stick yourself into work, relationships and conversations and expect to shine.

Reach out, ask for help and accept support. You Matter!

Until next time…

sara westbrook signature
18 Nov 2020

Start Each Day with an Intention

‘You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump. And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.’ Dr. Seuss ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’

When we went into lockdown last March I definitely came down the ‘Lurch’ with an unpleasant bump. All my presentations were cancelled. It was a scary time for me. How was I going to ‘un-slump’ so that I could move forward and not stay scared and worried?

The answer…I started creating a daily intention.

Intentions are like a GPS. They give your brain direction – a focus that creates a structure for your daily choices. It doesn’t mean you won’t have any challenges or uncomfortable emotions throughout your day – it means you now have a compass that:

  • Clarifies your choices.
  • Keeps you focused throughout the day.
  • Boosts your happiness and peacefulness.
  • Helps you live in the moment.

Daily intentions give you hope, accountability and keep you moving forward. And that is exactly what my intentions of ‘I choose to be courageous to reach out and ask for help’ and ‘I choose to be open to new possibilities’ did. They helped me ‘un- slump’

It was slow moving at first. I had moments of frustration, disappointment and even sadness. I did a lot of deep breathing, mindful meditation and writing in my journal. In choosing to keep moving forward, guided by my intentions, I was able to create my new virtual presentations for teachers, students, parents and businesses. And I have to say – I am loving it!

Until next time…

10 Jun 2020

Listen. Learn. Grow

There has been so much for us to think about in the past few weeks and months. So much is changing and will continue to change.

Through all the changes, we want the best for our children and students. We want them to act in a way that will promote respect, kindness and compassion. 

Children learn best by watching us. They see us as the example of what to do and what not to do. Observing how we approach challenges, how we talk about others, and how we handle tough emotions influences their choices and their beliefs. Our actions will always speak louder than our words.

We can’t expect children to be different from what they see us do, despite what we may tell them.

Being a role model isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being aware of the times you mess up, admitting it and learning from it, so that children learn to do the same. Being mindful of the choices you are making and the messages you are communicating takes practice and listening.

It’s important that you listen to children’s worries, the questions they ask, the fears they may be experiencing and most importantly the emotions they are feeling. Listening to them without judgment – listening – even if you think their concerns and emotions are unfounded.

Listening from a place of love, respect and compassion will create a strong connection and build a trust that will let children know, ‘They Matter. They are Important. They are Enough.’ – even in the most challenging times.

Until next time…

sara westbrook signature
1 Apr 2020

My Grandpa’s Secret

My grandpa died a few months ago of natural causes. He was 102… ONE HUNDRED AND TWO.

Isn’t that amazing? I think he had a secret to his longevity.

My grandpa always told me something I thought was very special which I often remind myself of: “If you can’t clown around in the world, you will never get around.”

You could take everything personally, focus on the negative, feel down and discouraged or you could adopt some of my grandpa’s positivity and choose to clown around. Imagine what would happen if you added humour to your days? What if you played more? Wouldn’t that be fun? That’s my grandpa’s secret. He chose humour.

I know it’s not always easy…

“But Sara, what if certain things just feel hard?” I hear you.

The truth is … it’s sometimes hard for all of us. My grandpa’s life wasn’t all fun and games. He struggled at times and in more ways than most—I bet it wasn’t easy for him to find humour every day. He was blind by the time he was a teenager and when the other kids learned how to drive, he longed for the day that never came. I saw his struggle first hand when he’d whisper in my ear his simple wish for sight.

When my grandpa was growing up, if you were blind, you were sent to boarding school. It could have felt terrible for him to live away from his friends and family, but he found a loved one there… my grandma. She was also blind.

He tuned pianos for a living because what he lacked in sight he made up for in sound and together, they raised three children with bells on their shoes—a little trick to keep track of their footsteps around the house. Isn’t that fun?!

I think the moral of this story is that with humour, you build resilience. Of course, there will be difficult times, but it’s important to always search for joy, silver linings, and silliness in times that feel hard. I think laughter is healing and humour goes a long way to helping you move through challenging circumstances and tough emotions.

How to add humour to your day

My fondest memories of my grandpa are filled with laughter. Joking together! I want to thank him a thousand times over for his wise words, but all I can do is share them with you.

It’s a childlike quality that we can carry into adulthood. I think of my son sometimes when I need a reminder. When our babies are born, we do everything we can to make them laugh. Now, he laughs at the oddest jokes that he thinks are really funny. It makes me happy to see him so happy and we snowball from there. Don’t you think that’s proof enough of the positive impact humour has on our wellbeing? I sure do!

Here’s a few ways to find your ‘inner clown’ even if you think it’s silly:

  • Make funny faces in the mirror – sounds weird but it works.
  • Sing really loud using a funny voice.
  • Watch a funny movie and laugh until your face feels like it’s cracking.
  • Dance like no one is watching.
  • Play dress up with your kids or friends.

Laughter and humour will give you the space to cope with a situation with a more relaxed view and help give you a different perspective so you can bounce back with more ease.

Until next time…

sara westbrook signature
12 Feb 2020

Why is the Thought of Asking So Scary?

‘You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.’ Oprah Winfrey

Think about a time you wanted to ask a question and didn’t. 

Have you ever avoided asking because you were scared you would hear that one word … it’s not yes … it’s No! 

Has the fear of ‘NO’ stopped you from pursuing a dream, taking a stand or getting an answer to something you really want to know?

Think of all you are missing because you are allowing fear to stop you … all the unanswered questions … all the missed opportunities.

Young people tell me that when they are feeling shy, nervous, embarrassed, sad or anxious – it’s harder to ask. I agree! 

It’s natural to feel these emotions. The key is not to allow these emotions to stop you.

Choices from these emotions easily steer you not to ask. Choices from courage allow you to feel the emotions and ask anyway. 

Where will you choose to make your choices from? Fear? or Courage?

Choose Courage.

Go on… Ask!

Until next time…

sara westbrook signature

23 Oct 2019

3 Sure Fire Ways to Be Resilient

“Resilience: noun

  1. The ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change: toughness
  2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

What does it mean to be tough? Or to be elastic as a person?

Maybe we bend, but never break. Maybe we bruise, but are not broken. We survive hardships and heartbreaks and come out stronger on the other side when resilience guides us through.

It’s important to note that resilience isn’t a mysterious exterior force some of us are gifted with (even though it may feel that way sometimes), but a choice we make in the face of a challenge. It’s how quick we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and choose to take another step forward. It can be a difficult skill to learn, but one that will carry us through tough times and uncomfortable emotions in a way that reacting negatively never can. But how do you learn resilience?

That’s right—it’s learned, like any other skill. Here are 3 sure-fire ways to developing the skill of resilience:

1. Character

Challenges bring up tough, overwhelming emotions like: sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration—emotions that make it difficult to make choices that show our character. Instead of reacting out of emotions during challenging circumstances, can you acknowledge your emotions, identify them, and move through them in a healthy way?

It takes courage to acknowledge emotions and find the determination and confidence to keep moving forward.

You are more than the adversity you face and building a strong character will be your pathway to accept and overcome the obstacles that may stand in your way.

2. Support

Try as some of us might, we can’t go very far without support from others. A strong support system is crucial to bouncing back from challenging times.

When you are facing a challenge, reach out to others and ask for help even though you may feel embarrassed, nervous or scared. People who care for and love you will help you move forward. They will give you the hope you need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel that seems winding and endless.

3. Perception

Remember this: Challenges are chapters in your life not your whole story. I say it often because it’s true and realizing this will change your perception of every roadblock.

Resilience is very much based on perception. How do you see what you’re going through? Do you look at it as ‘this is what my life will look and feel like forever’ or do you perceive challenges as ways to learn and grow? Altering your perception alters whether you stay down or bounce back.

We all want to keep stepping one foot in front of the other with the belief that challenges have an end point. We all need to believe that there is some purpose in what happened.

Resilience in Practice

Does it seem difficult to learn resilience? Sometimes it definitely does. Here’s an exercise my mum taught me that I use to this day to help me bounce back.

When I was 15, I hit the wrong note during a big singing performance. After listening to me express my embarrassment, frustration, and disappointment, my mum asked me one question: “What is the gift?”

Me: What do you mean? It was so embarrassing! There is no gift.

My mum: What’s the gift? What did you learn?

Me: Nothing. (I was still so upset with myself)

My mum: Write 3 positive things you received from this challenge.

With a calm brain, I reflected on the gifts.

What did I learn that helped me build my resilience?

The breakdown: I chose to act based on my character of respect for myself, others and my dreams. I chose to stay determined to keep singing. I had the support of my mum and I realized that changing my perception from what happened to what I learned helped me bounce back.

This exercise helped train my brain to look for gratitude even in the darkest moments.

Can you practice the same? Can you think of 3 gifts you have received from a challenging time?

Until next time,

sara westbrook signature