I read a book a couple of years ago and it's a short amazing little book. It's called 'the four agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you haven't read it I would suggest you do, it’s a quick read with some very insightful points and basically 4 "rules" you should (or could) put into everyday practice. Without elaborating too much the basic 4 agreements are; 1- be impeccable with you word, 2- don't make assumptions, 3- don't take anything personally, 4- always do your best. The fourth one is the one I want to focus on today.
So I am an English teacher in Thailand and it can be a lot of fun but also challenging. You are trying to teach kids that, as we all remember when we were kids at school, don't always want to learn the subject and they are just there because their parents pay for them to be there or school is a place for them to break away from their life at home. For whatever reason some kids are just loud, busy, and disruptive and have a very short attention span. I try to make my classes fun and very interactive which does lend itself to getting a bit out of control sometimes. But majority of my classes, when I ask them to be quiet most of them are and when I ask them to listen most of them do. In one of my classes the kids just kept on talking especially the boys. I asked nicely be quiet, I shouted be quiet, I whispered be quiet and nothing worked. After about 20 min of shouting I was getting annoyed, my throat was getting sore and I was hot and bothered. I was really trying my best at the time. But then I lost it, I went to the one boy that was one of the instigators, slammed my hands on his desk and shouted be quiet. He kept on talking, with me being in his face, all in Thai of course. I then shouted and said that I'm trying to make the class fun but they have no respect. He then started laughing in my face. There and then I decided to walk out. I grabbed my bag and walked out. As I walked out the majority of them roared "yeah" and some of them grabbed their bags and started leaving the class. Then I lost it even more.....if that was possible at that stage. I shouted at them to get back in the class room, sit down and shut up. The Thai teacher next door obviously saw me storming out and came to ask what was wrong. I burst into tears and explained what happened. Needless to say the kids got a small punishment and they all had to apologize to me.
In hindsight I should have handled it differently but at that stage I thought I was doing my best, but it wasn't good enough. I have had that class since and they were a bit better but still noisy and disrespectful. I realized that you can only control your own thoughts, words and actions and not anyone else's! And actually all the agreements in the book was appropriate for my situation. It is good to know and understand certain principles, but it’s when you put them into your daily life and actively practice them that they become a part of you.
Challenge yourself and take one agreement, let’s say the first one, “be impeccable with your word” (that is towards yourself first and foremost then towards everyone else). For one day only focus on this agreement and when you find yourself talking negatively about yourself or someone else STOP. When you find yourself gossiping STOP.
When you find yourself judging yourself or someone else STOP.
When you find yourself having negative thoughts about yourself or someone else STOP.
S-still T-think O-observe P-positive
This sounds easy enough but once you start becoming conscious of the way you think and speak you will soon realize that we do a lot of negative self-talk and this affects our mood and our life.
Take this one day challenge and it might just encourage you to do a week or a month only focusing on this one agreement but it will certainly change your life forever.