There's an old parable about a person walking down a street. They don't see a big hole in front of them and they fall in it. They're confused, they're hurt and they feel a bit stupid. It takes them a while but eventually they climb out, brusied and battered, thinking to themselves that they never want to fall in that hole again.
The next day they walk down the same street. They see the big hole this time but they try and ignore that it's there. Well, they fall in. It hurts, they feel stupid but they don't think it's their fault. "Who put that bloody great big hole there?!" they shout to themselves. It takes a bit less time to climb out this time and they go on their way, limping a bit.
The next day they walk down the same street and they see the hole. They don't ignore it this time but they still fall in. It's become a bit of a habit you see. But they acknowledge where they are and that yes, it was their fault for falling it. It feels familiar now so they don't feel so stupid and they're not as badly hurt. They climb out fairly easily and carry on their way.
The next day, they walk down the same street. They see the hole. It's right there in front of them. They carefully manouvere around the hole, it takes a lot of effort not to fall in, and they carry on with their journey, feeling quite proud of themselves but tired from the exertion of avoiding falling in the hole.
The next day, they walk down a different street.
What I love about this story is the gradual progress the person makes. As a reader we can clearly see their mistakes but it's sometimes harder to see the hole when you're the protagonist, preoccupied with things on your mind. I like the gradual increasing in awareness and the acceptance of responsibility for the person's mistakes - it's so easy to blame others when we make mistakes or get hurt. And I love the fact that we have more choice and control over which street we walk down and that we can avoid those holes altogether if we're mindful enough.
You see wellbeing is a constant work-in-progress. We never master it. We never 'get there'. Each day we have a myriad of different streets to walk down and it's not just holes we need to look out for but traffic, pedestrians, dogs mess.. you name it! But when we make a conscious effort to live our lives with greater awareness and care for ourselves and others, we start to realise when our old habits are letting us down and that there might just be a better street for us to walk down. Or we might even realise we can take a shortcut through a park and avoid the busy streets altogether!
Adrian Bethune is a part-time teacher and has created a brand-new short course with Dr Emma Kell called - Wellbeing and Self-Care in Schools (details below)