Do you ever talk to yourself? Not out loud, of course, but in your mind, throughout your day?
We all do. What we do not realize is just how powerful those thoughts and conversations are to our well-being.
The Oxford Dictionary defines cognition as: the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. Basically, thinking. As a school counselor, I have seen students struggling with self-confidence, test anxiety, social relationships and much more. Through our conversations we explore the messages they tell themselves and the ones they are told by those around them. For example, test anxiety is rarely just about the test. It is often rooted or connected to other issues.
Acceptance: Will my friends find out that I am struggling in this class?
Love: Will my parents still love me if I fail this test? Am I a disappointment?
Self-Confidence: If I fail, it means I am stupid.
Are these thoughts irrational? Sometimes. But sometimes there are questions that our children have and feelings that are left unsaid, leaving them to fill in the blanks themselves. Do they know that they are loved regardless of their grade in a class? Do they know that they are seen by their teachers? Allowing others to fill in the blanks can lead to the development of irrational thinking patterns and affect all of us, young and old.
Most of my students know that my favorite saying is “communication is the key.” There is a great deal of eye rolling in those conversations but, the value of communication remains. If someone is struggling, simply asking “why” can go a long way. The silent treatment is not solution focused. Communication is not always easy, but, it is imperative to living a healthy, authentic life.
Amanda Bumgarner has been a teacher and school counselor in independent, public and charter schools in Central Florida since 2008. Before joining O’Neal in 2018, Amanda was the K-12 school counselor at a STEM charter school in Orlando. Previously, she taught Psychology, Sociology and World History for eight years. She holds a B.A. in Sociology, a M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership and an Ed.S. in School Counseling with a graduate certificate in Career Counseling.