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Blog: Explorations and Reflections

on awakening the True Self.

  • Writer's pictureMick Scott

I began composing my last post, The Question that Always Delivers, on Friday of last week. I put myself as best I could into my mindset from nearly 15 years earlier, from before and after asking myself that profoundly insightful question: “What am I avoiding being responsible for?” In asking that question, even in memory, the question started to work on me again…

I’ve been struggling in my relationship with a colleague over the last couple years in ways that I’ve never struggled with a colleague before. It’s really felt like I’ve been doing the right thing, putting in my best effort, and making the best of the situation. Yet I’ve continued to feel alone, untrusted, and harassed in this relationship.

Initially I was in a state of self-doubt about it: what am I doing wrong here? But over time, after conversations with this person that didn’t seem to make a difference, and from talking with people I trust, the more clear it had become to me that again, the problem is over there with them. I still mostly did my best to foster a positive relationship, but I’ve certainly felt that something is still missing. Missing, that is, until last Friday.

Closing off authentic communication really made sense. When my shields went up to protect me from being vulnerable, my mouth closed and I separated myself. I wasn't talking directly with them about my experience. I wasn't expressing myself clearly, completely, or often at all.

Yes, my reasons were good, and my guardedness was 100% justified.

Yet the parallel was embarrassingly obvious: just as I had so naturally, easily, and justifiably blamed those 14-year-olds for my experience as a teacher, I was sure that I had done everything I could with this colleague and that they were so obviously at fault here. Just like with my freshmen, in this case I also had the opinions and perspectives of other people to support me.

And yet on Friday, the magic started working on me in this relationship. Surprisingly, the words just fell out of my mouth and it felt really good to say them: “I’m sorry. This isn’t your fault. This problem isn’t over there on you. It’s just taken me a while to find my grounding, find my voice, and find the willingness to start speaking honestly in every single conversation with you. And now that I’m doing that, here’s what my experience has been like.”

I didn’t even plan to go there in my conversation with my colleague on Friday. All I had done in preparation for the conversation was listed out on a sticky note in front of me a few words that I intended to have guide me in the conversation:

I didn't have to use the power of the question that always delivers in this situation. Instead, it used me. And it felt good to be used by something so insightful, freeing, and grounding.

It starts with a willingness to be responsible.

Thanks for reading ❤️.


Thanks for joining me on this exploration/reflection! If you'd like to receive blog updates via email twice weekly, be sure to subscribe here.

  • Writer's pictureMick Scott

Class had just begun, and I was standing in the center of our large engineering lab. It was my first year teaching, and this class had 32 fourteen-year-olds in it. I had been working my tail off with colleagues to create a 9th grade curriculum that would be fun, engaging, and effective in getting the content across, but I had begun to dread seeing this particular group of kids.

I’d think about them while falling asleep at night, and I’d think about them as soon as I woke up. If I woke up in the middle of the night, it was this class that I’d see as I tossed and turned myself back to sleep.

I knew that the problem was over there with them, and I found myself getting more irritated and punitive as the weeks progressed. This class was weighing on me.

So I stood in the center of class and took attendance. Then I scanned the room, looking each of them in the eyes. And then I apologized.

I apologized for blaming them for my feeling frustrated and stressed, ineffective and lame. I apologized for believing that they needed to conform to my ideas of good behavior in order for me to be successful as a teacher. I apologized for trying to get them to fit some mold instead of respecting where they are and working together from there.

I told them that regardless of how I may dislike their behavior, they are not responsible for my experience. My frustration isn’t for them to resolve. My feelings of ineffectiveness or insufficiency or inferiority aren’t for them to handle. My fears and disappointments don’t belong on their backs to carry.

Yes, they’ve got to bring more to the table too. They’ve got to get more focused in class if they’re going to work through and learn the material. But no, I will not blame them for my feeling like I’m not getting the job done.

To get to that point I had to ask myself the most powerful and transformative question I’d ever learned to ask. Whenever I’m feeling frustrated, angry, small, ineffective, or a victim, the one question that has never failed to deliver insight: "What am I avoiding being responsible for?"

I was avoiding being responsible for my own experience. My feelings of ease, enjoyment, success, and passion were dependent on my students. I had been pretending that my satisfaction and self-worth was conditional on how my students behaved.

I was avoiding being responsible as the educator in the room, for seeing the beautiful and unbreakable core of each of my students regardless of their behavior, for working with them fully to develop understanding. My love, compassion, and even my engagement was conditional on their behavior.

Taking responsibility is the most powerful tool we have. It’s not finding fault or blame, and it’s not meant to induce shame or guilt.

Blame is easy. Blame helped me avoid the discomfort of vulnerably looking at the true source of my emotions, the thoughts and judgments and limiting beliefs about myself. Blame allowed me to avoid considering who I might have to be to live more powerfully and free in my role as educator. By blaming my students for my experience, I was actually handing away all of my power and ability to actually thrive in my classroom.

Yes, we can hold each other accountable when it’s due, but holding another accountable is not the same thing as blaming them.

I told my class that I wouldn't be blaming them anymore.

Thanks for reading ❤️.


Thanks for joining me on this exploration/reflection! If you'd like to receive blog updates via email twice weekly, be sure to subscribe here.

  • Writer's pictureMick Scott

A student of mine had been writing a lot to get through a challenging experience. She had a tough time sleeping for all the thoughts (memories, coulda-done’s, how-could-they’s) and feelings (fear, hurt, trapped, angry). So she would journal. And it was getting a little better, but it often didn’t feel too much like it.

So she considered this question: what if she wrote it all out, everything, and then scratched off anything that wasn’t happening right now - what would be left?

Something clicked. She discovered that the experience she went through isn’t something she needs to dissect, analyze, figure out, or keep alive. She actually has the power to finish that chapter, close the notebook, and stick it on her shelf.

We can always look at our memories of experiences and see new things if there are new things to be seen; we'll always have them as a lesson to learn from, an experience to inform us. The memories may always be there, but we don't have to live within those memories, as if there’s no other option. Our being needn’t be constrained by those memories. We can be free.

The first time I went through that exercise, it was in a Landmark Worldwide course. I had pages of thoughts written down, but when I scratched off everything that wasn’t happening right in that moment, there was only a single sentence remaining.

It was as if the dark isolation of my struggle was suddenly brightened by a rapidly widening ray of sunlight. Nothing that happened had been negated, but neither is it happening right now.

Most of the time we’re living in our thought-world of memory, fantasy, fear, and opinion. Even when we don’t think that we’re living in our thoughts, we often are. We mostly interact with our own ideas, interpretations, labels, and categorizations, not with the objects and beings of our life as they are.

So many of us adults and teachers have also lost track of what’s actually happening, right now. We live in concept-plastered worlds and think we’re interacting with things as they are.

Of course, most of us know this. Many of us even think that we could get more present in our lives, to live “in the moment” and not in the fantasy or nostalgia of our thinking.

But we actually can’t get any more present than we already are: we are only ever present.

The practice, or trick perhaps, is to stay aware of more than just our enticing world of Thought in all its obvious and subtle, visual and language forms. It’s a practice of lifting the veil, and we can practice experiencing this moment more fully by first seeing and then seeing through our abundant and limiting filters and thinking.

This moment: the only place that love, compassion, joy, connection, passion, hope, and ease can actually live.

That’s what we want for our young people too: to live in this moment, unconstrained in their ability to connect with themselves, with others, and with the universe.

Thanks for reading ❤️.


Thanks for joining me on this exploration/reflection! If you'd like to receive blog updates via email twice weekly, be sure to subscribe here.

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