The way I froze in anticipation of my project decision was not unfamiliar to others in the cohort. I heard the following theories and thoughts as we problem-solved and tried to name what we were experiencing.
Karen and Julie, some of my Lakewood High fellows, recalled Carol Dweck’s Mindset theory as Morgan, our special ed colleague, tried to describe her current discomfort with the project and its place in her life. Morgan owned the fixed mindset, identifying with her inability to get outside of a box that told her she just can’t do this. Though I am familiar with Dweck’s theory, they articulated the growth mindset in language that helped me as well. The growth mindset is outside of the dichotomy of being good or bad at something. We are just practiced or unpracticed. Time spent in practice improves our competency.
I recalled my experiences as a parent of my son Jonah. He is seven, a second-grader, early in the human stages of having to get over “inertia” to grow, making a choice to engage with something despite strong oppositional feelings. It is very difficult for him to try something new if he isn’t sure that he will get it right and be good at it. Risk-taking is a challenge for him. Frustration runs high once he does engage and makes what he perceives to be a mistake.
I learned recently that we can tend to approach all of our decisions in one of three ways: flight, fight, or freeze. My mother-in-law, a healer by gift, has been treating us with an energy work recently that the whole family has found beneficial. It’s called Jin Shin. I offered one of the techniques to the group. If you hold your pointer finger as firmly as you can with the opposite hand, the nerves in that finger are triggered to send signals to your brain to calm your fears or resistance to do something. If you do the same to your thumb, it calms worry.
What struck me is our shared frozen (perhaps with a sprinkle of flight) impulses. And then shared language brought new meaning and understanding of the situation. I’m not sure anyone else took something away from my “energy” story, but I used that technique while Pete instructed us on the properties of wood. Did my tightly held finger help to free my willingness to participate and thereby inspire my creativity? It was not long after that I felt that this project was in fact something I could tackle. It begs alternate considerations of the “whole child” doesn’t it... body and mindfulness included?