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December 3, 2020

Perspective is Key: Stronger Me, Stronger We — Team Calm

One of the seven essential life skills in Mind in the Making is “Perspective-Taking.” Mind in the Making says Perspective-taking goes beyond empathy. It considers the thoughts and feelings of others and involves seeing things as others would see them: their likes, dislikes, feelings, and thoughts.

Facilitators, including myself, know about these skills, explain them, and share examples about them. However, it wasn’t until our cohort, Team Calm, in Stronger Me, Stronger We, that I fully experienced the power and importance of perspective-taking.

In one of our sessions, some of the participants discussed the challenges they face during COVID—working full-time jobs and overseeing school at home for their young children and teenagers. Not only are parents juggling multiple work responsibilities and helping their children learn classroom material, but they also have to contend with the emotional struggles the children confront as well as social isolation from friends.

To put it simply, it’s a lot of stress. I don’t have children, so before my participation in these workshops, I wasn’t able to see those challenges clearly. Sure, I’ve read newspaper articles and viewed social media posts about schooling from home and the lack of social connection for children learning remotely, but it wasn’t until I heard these concerns directly from parents that I could begin to understand their perspective.

These realizations occurred during a 1-hour session on a different life skill, Focus and Self-Control.

We discussed how difficult it has been for all of us to focus during the pandemic. If adults cannot concentrate, how can we expect our children to?  Their brains are still developing and they may not fully understand why things are the way they are.

A rhetorical question perhaps, but one that forced me to recognize that even though I face challenges in my own life, it’s vital to continually realize that others face different and potentially more difficult ones. So how can I help people with a myriad of challenges?

Participating in these Mind in the Making workshops helped me to develop stronger skills in perspective-taking. These sessions offer participants a way to learn material about the importance of brain development while adding new skills to their own toolboxes which can be transferred to the children in their lives. These workshops also offer the space to build connections. It’s not only a safe space to share, but as my colleague, John Ferguson states, “a brave space to learn, share, and grow”.

Are you struggling with trying to teach your children at home while working full-time? Someone else in this region is too. Did you lose your job and are looking for work while also trying to help your children? Others are too. Through Mind in the Making and the other Stronger Me, Stronger We workshops, you will learn important content to help build your knowledge and skills while building connections with others.

As I learned, it’s important not only to understand and share our own struggles, but to have the space to do so with others. We can all learn something new, be better people, raise better humans, and make the world a better place.

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