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  • Writer's pictureJulie Love

Opposites are Hard

One thing that we humans have a very hard time with is feeling opposing emotions at the same time.  Ask anyone grieving after losing someone to a long and painful illness – navigating the sense of loss mixed with relief is brutal.  And stressful situations trigger all our defensive cognitive distortions, like Black & White Thinking, or Catastrophization, or Personalization.

So any situation with more than one side (for which we tellingly have few alternatives to the term “conflict”), we often gravitate towards us vs them.  At which point confirmation bias helpfully steps in to magnify all the negative aspects of the other side, while pushing a rosy exaggeration of your own flawless attributes.  If we recognize that this is unbalanced, we might try to even it by owning our own shortcomings…  at which point, depending on our level of stress, it’s quite easy to overshoot the mark and resort to simply beating yourself up as completely incompetent.  Also a skewed and unhelpful view, but once you start digging, it get really hard to get out of that hole.  Before you know it, you’ve created a dark labyrinth, connecting and emphasizing your flaws in every area of your life. 

What to do?  I’m not in a great position to say right now – too busy decorating my own cave.  The original, “wow, it’s really hard to do the work of SNLP with no salary” has spread to encompass financial catastrophization, isolation, and ballooning self-doubt.  We’ve all been there – you feel stressed over your job performance, the stress impairs your concentration, resulting in worsening your job performance, and the cycle repeats.  Common phenomenon.  Understandable.  Still sucks.

Okay.  Gotta come up with some answers – it’s my job, after all.

  • Chop wood, carry water.  That means: do what is right in front of you.  Daily routine tasks.  Don’t let those go; if they’re already falling apart, start with bringing them back.

  • Smaller goals.  Have a variety of sizes of tasks, so whatever kind of day you’re having you can get through some of them.  I recommend sorting them into piles:  Major Projects (things you are just chipping away at over time), Big Jobs (you can get it done in one go, but it might take much of the day), and Things a Trained Monkey Could Do.  When you’ve done something, remember that you did that.  Don’t get sucked into “yeah, but let’s focus on everything I didn’t get done…”

  • Shorter Time Periods.  Look at your automatic completion of “I’m really having a bad ____”, then choose a shorter timeframe, and focus on just the next one.  Having a bad week?  Today could be an okay day.  Having a bad day?  Let’s do something good in the next hour.  Right now is awful?  Take a deep breath, blow it out, and give yourself a moment of calm stillness.

  • Connect with people.  The more real, the better:  in person is better than phone is better than text/email is better than reading/posting on social media with folks you know is better than reading/posting on social media with people you’ve never met.

  • Ask for help.  If you are struggling with an overwhelming task, a huge amount of the weight of it is feeling alone in the struggle.  Your friend might not be able to help you write that thesis, but if they help carry the books to your car, it helps.  After all, the books aren’t heavy, but the lonely walk to the car is.  And stopping to honestly look for any small portions of the task you could outsource is a great way to break the job into less overwhelming pieces, and often shows you that you don’t have to do it 100% all by yourself.


So, in the spirit of actually taking my own advice for a change, I really need your help.  I need connection, I need SNLP to be more active so it doesn’t feel like it’s just shriveling up and dying, and I need people to pick up the task of contacting their legislators, to get it the support to return to its previous level of service.

So please, feel free to reach out to me.  If you know me, I’d love to hear from people.  If you don’t, it would still be cool to meet you, but I understand if that’s weird.  Maybe you could come to one of the Zoom Drop in Meetings (This Friday 4/5 at 9 am, or Tuesday 4/9 at 7 pm), or the quarterly Board Meeting (Tuesday 4/9 at 6 pm).  Interested in joining the Board?  July’s Meeting is when that happens, so come to this one to check it out.  This is the link to join those meetings.

Using SNLP services is easy -- just call or email with any questions/issues. Not sure if your question is the kind to ask? Call and ask me that, and we'll sort it out together.  We have a grant for this service, so the consult is free. Tell your colleagues the program is available.  Print and post these Contact Info Cards

We’re also still offering Professional Development.  Tell your PD coordinators!  If you have any openings this spring for a webinar or (preferably) in person presentation, my schedule is flexible and I will move just about anything to fit you in.  I’m also booking for next year, and people can indicate when they schedule if it’s provisional on there being funding (if the speakers fee would be a barrier).

And as always, the way to make the PD free, get the emails unblocked, and free the Liaison from choosing between bankruptcy and keeping SNLP alive is to get us into the state budget.  If everyone who ever said they valued the program wrote to their legislators, we’d be in with no problem.  It’s just unfortunately easy for everyone to assume their letter doesn’t matter, and/or someone else will do it.  Trust me, yours does and they won’t.  So please write to your Representative, your Senator, the Chair/Vice Chairs of the Ways & Means Committees, and everyone on the Education Committee.  If you want guidance for how to do that and what to say, there’s info on the website. (When the House Budget comes out in about a week, we will have a specific Amendment number to write them about -- check back for that info!)

We all want the program back to what it was, with a newsletter and monthly Afterschool Seminars and free PDPs/CEUs and the security that when you need support, you know exactly who to call.  It’s just a question of how much you want that – hopefully enough to spend five minutes writing a letter, and encouraging others to do so as well.

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