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Inclusion Column

The Role of Social-Emotional Learning in Adverse Times

By Karina César

I am writing this article from the perspective of an inclusion advocate, and as an experienced teacher in Social-Emotional Learning inspired by the author and researcher, Brené Brown.  The thinking that I am sharing today navigates around the competencies of self-awareness, social awareness, and self-management. Throughout the reading, I invite you to reflect on your emotions, thoughts, actions, decisions, behaviors, and on your capacity to self-regulate in adverse times. Let’s take what we are living as an opportunity for growth. 

How many things have you discovered about yourself? How many of you have felt sadness, anger, happiness? Our world is facing an uncommon situation. No one has ever imagined it before, or at least none of us had thought about living in these circumstances. Our bodies are experiencing a mix of emotions, both positive and negative. They are all very valid, take the time to acknowledge, fully embrace, and talk about them. Our emotions make us who we are; they make us unique and beautiful. We own our feelings, so be authentic and real to each of them. Much of our performance and decision making come from our emotions, therefore show compassion and be kind to yourself first to be kind to others. 

Our brain is a changing and sociable organ; it continuously modifies and adapts to new situations. Besides, our brain is wired to connect with others. Connections give us meaning in our lives. These connections must create truly empathetic relationships that let you step into what others are feeling. We are all living our processes, grievings, and carrying our weight. Being empathetic, compassionate, and aware of others is vital to lead our mental health on the right path. Also, understanding and gratitude are attitudes that will not only impact others but also our well-being. As Brené Brown consistently suggests, always consider that people are doing the best they can with the resources they have. So don’t go with the crowd and be true to yourself. Don’t let the thoughts of others guide your capacity for compassion, empathy, and understanding towards others. Always keep in mind that what we say and do impact other people.    
As a final advice, remember that emotions and thoughts work together. They regulate our actions. Reflection is crucial for self-regulation; we are dealing with feelings that sometimes can be hard to control. Have the courage to be imperfect and embrace imperfection. We all have the adaptability of change. Be aware of the importance of being generous, compassionate, and empathetic in these difficult times. Personally, the reflection of these last values has been the most significant meditation I have had during my quarantine. So show up and be seen, stay brave, stay uncomfortable, stay human.