In my classroom, we regularly discuss the importance of understanding that our impact is more important than our intentions. In a drama classroom, students need to feel safe. We have hard discussion and the students tend to explore challenging topics through their work. In a classroom of 26 the diversity of opinions and backgrounds can be overwhelming and we spend time at the beginning of the semester reviewing positive communication skills and the importance of taking responsibility for our actions by simply apologizing if someone lets you know that are negatively impacted. We have a great deal to learn from each other and recognize that something we did without negative intentions hurt someone is such a valuable way to learn about each other. Often times this learning comes through restorative circles and discussions, either one on one or as a class (depending on the behaviour).
As an adult with a life that is complicated like everyone else, sometimes these lessons are easier said than done when it comes to the people we love most. We get hurt, we react, they get hurt, they react and it feels so much harder because there is love and attachment and expectations intermingling with all of the hurt feelings. Our choices have consequences, good and bad. The complicated piece is that we are experiencing the world through our own thoughts, experiences and feelings. We are reacting to situations that we coat with similar experiences. It’s meant to help us avoid danger, but the coding is terrible and the algorithm isn’t doing a great job in my opinion.
This is something I am working on right now. Recognizing the reaction, listening to the thoughts, experiencing the feelings but not letting any of them “drive the bus”, if you will. Sometimes people do crappy things. Sometimes people do things that remind us of crappy things that happened. For me, the feelings and reaction to these situations are intense. Sometimes we need to get mad, we definitely need to cry when something makes us sad. I am working on not letting those pieces continue to impact me and turn into endless days of anxiety and worry. I am also working on recognizing that I can do crappy things, or the things I do can spark reactions in people because of their own past crappy things. None of this makes me undeserving or worthless, rather it makes me human. Recognizing how the other person feels and validating their feelings or apologizing for my part in it, is also something I am capable of and responsible for. Do onto others right?
Do find taking responsibility for your impact challenging? If so, what are your thoughts on why. If not, what advice can you offer others about how you navigate conflict.