Be the change, being me, reflection

When Was the Last Time You Gave Yourself a Break?

image from icanread

When my students screw up, when my children upset me, when my husband fails to say the right thing, I tend to give them a break.  Depending on the problem or the screw up we usually talk through it if need be and then we move on.  Laying to rest whatever emotions were stirred up, moving on and moving forward.

But when I screw up, when I say something others can take as hurtful, when I write something that starts negative emotions in others, I tend to beat myself up.  I think many of us do as adults.  We criticize ourselves, we play it over and over, and we never give up on our own flaws.  We are often the first ones to point them out as if someone in society keeps a tally of just how many times we have pointed out that we are not perfect, that we are not an inspiration, that we are not awesome.  Just to make sure we know our place.

It is time we forgive ourselves, it is time to give ourselves a break.  We don’t have to go around heralding our own amazement, but perhaps just stop  the constant self berating that we as teachers are so good at.  When someone compliments us, say thank you.  When someone tells us that we make a difference, agree.  When someone points out the positive, smile and carry it with you.  Lightning will not strike from a an empty sky if we take a little pride in ourselves, I promise.

We are so good at giving each other a break, why not extend the favor to ourselves?


I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this fall from PLPress.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

8 thoughts on “When Was the Last Time You Gave Yourself a Break?”

  1. This was a great post and so true. It’s exactly what I needed to hear tonight. It’s not a bad kind of pride to be respectful, kind and forgiving to ourselves as well as others. Also, we as parents and educators are models for our children, so we need to show them how to live self-respect themselves, instead of being their own worst critic. Perfectionism leads to pessimism, but encouragement can lead to taking chances and personal growth. Thanks for writing.

  2. I’m not a teacher but even so I found solice in reading your words. During a very trying time with what has been a culmintive breakdown over the past twenty months with my sister, it finally peaked today. There was an emotional explosion (albeit, a written explosion via a letter passed from her through our brother) of twenty-five years of perceived slights on one side and oblivious doh-doh-doh on the other. I’m sure, given my being drawn to your writings, you’ll figure out which category I’ve put myself in. I wish I didn’t find it so easy, so comfortable, so familiar to believe I’m completely at fault. Surely I can’t be?! But then I think, I bet the majority of murderers in prison think they’re merely misunderstood, that they’re really and truly a good person – what if that’s me? My blind eye to myself. What if I am this wretched person she accuses me of being and I’m just so fully unaware? But perhaps, you’re more right than I – maybe I need to cut myself some slack and give myself a break. Maybe not be so willing to tuck tail, to roll over submissively. Maybe others aren’t perfect, maybe I’m not alone in the screw up department. Sigh, I’ve hit an all time low – cry babying to a complete stranger and her readers.

    1. Hi Kassie,
      I hope things are settling down for you and that you are finding some peace. No matter what happened, today is a new day, and you need forgiveness and hope. Be kind to yourself. Positive change comes when we stop beating ourselves up over past failures (even perceived ones) and start afresh. As Anne of Green Gables’ teacher said, “Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it.” Love yourself as you are; this is the foundation for interior growth and happiness.

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