We’re in the same boat: Hana Tichá

One of the joys of gathering stories for the Teachers Talking About Self-compassion series includes the opportunity to look back on how I met the teachers who accept my request or volunteer to answer the three questions. To date, I have only physically met one teacher, and “meet” with the other two (found here and here) regularly via our favourite social networks.

This is how I met Hana Tichá: through one of our favourite online venues, blogging. Her blog, “How I see it now” came to my attention when we both decided to join the Reflective Practice Blog Challenge set out by John Pfordresher. I quickly learned that Hana brings care, mindfulness, and love to each word she types. I’ve also learned that many people, including me, are very appreciative of these words. They expand our heart and mind, and make our days a bit brighter.

Keep reading. You’ll understand what I mean.

Hana with redthumbforlove and heart

Hana’s #RedThumbForLove

Note: This is Hana’s second #RedThumbForLove snapshot. You can find her first one here.

In what country or countries do you currently teach or in what countries have you taught?  What subject or skills do you teach or have you taught? 

To the online world, I like to introduce myself as an English as a foreign language teacher, but here in the Czech Republic I consider myself to be a subject teacher of English at a secondary school.

In the past, I worked freelance and had classes of very small kids as well as adults of all ages and occupations. Currently, I’m working in the state sector of education and teach children aged 11-19. I’m a homeroom teacher to a class of 14-year olds, which I’m extremely proud of. I’m also the head of the English Department at our institution, which, on the other hand, yields more responsibility than pleasure.

What strategies do you use to practice self-compassion/self-care? 

When I’m emotionally shattered or worried about work, the first thing I do is go and talk to my friends and colleagues. As a rule, they are usually more compassionate than I am self-compassionate.

Reading blogs of like-minded educators has a particularly soothing effect, too. People like Zhenya PolosatovaAnne HendlerKevin SteinAnna LosevaRose Bard, you, Josette, and many more always lift my spirits when I feel I’m getting off the right track. Also, writing my own blog helps me see things from a different perspective. I’m particularly grateful for the comments I get from fellow bloggers, especially for their message: Don’t worry; we’re in the same boat.

But sometimes I just grab a book that is not education-related: a novel, even something esoteric. There’s a copy of Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness sitting on my bedside table and I read it whenever I need to take a break from the stressful, material world or when I need to remind myself of the importance of compassion and love in a human’s life.

Why is self-compassion/self-care important to you in terms of the work you do as a teacher?

Although they look similar on paper, compassion and self-compassion produce very different emotions which don’t have the same healing effect. When my colleague expresses a deep feeling for my suffering and misfortune, it helps a lot, but only temporarily. Self-compassion, on the other hand, has a permanent remedial effect. I believe that self-compassion changes you gradually and completely while constant compassionate comments from your colleagues may sometimes result in your stagnation.

To be honest, I’m not a naturally self-compassionate person; I tend to mercilessly judge and criticize myself and then I like to revel in self-pity for a while. This is not very helpful if you are a full-time teacher. A lot happens during the day at school and especially the emotional part of it can be overwhelming. In such conditions, a minor incident easily becomes a terrible disaster in your eyes and it affects your mood and sense of self-worth for a couple of days.

To conclude, I would say that the hardest part of any reflection process, which, to me, is synonymous with self-care, is forgiving. I believe that we constantly need to learn to forgive ourselves for being imperfect. Actually, why should we strive for perfection at all given that perfection kills, but wisdom makes a mistake every day?

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4 thoughts on “We’re in the same boat: Hana Tichá

  1. Dear Hana,

    Thank you so much for adding your story here. They brought up points I connected to and also wanted to explore a bit more.

    You wrote about your friends and colleagues, “As a rule, they are usually more compassionate than I am self-compassionate.” Isn’t this the curious (and sad) thing about being human? We are so hard on ourselves but it’s hard to imagine being that harsh with others. I wonder why this is. I have to think about this more.

    And I wanted to ask more about this “…while constant compassionate comments from your colleagues may sometimes result in your stagnation.” Why do you think that is? Do you have any examples of this that you are willing to share? I’ve never really thought of this, and would love to explore it a bit.

    In gratitude,
    Josette

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hana Tichá says:

      Hi Josette,

      Thanks for your comment and an interesting question. Let me give you an example of what I meant when I talked about stagnation. When something unpleasant happens at work, we usually seek words of comfort from our colleagues or closest friends. As friends usually try to be nice to us, they tend to say something overly encouraging, like: “Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Student X is a terrible troublemaker anyway”. This helps at the given moment, but if you don’t reflect further on what happened, you may end up feeling that you’re the victim and X is to blame. If X happens to be unpopular with most of your colleagues and more of them step in to comfort you, this inevitably clouds the truth. So, compassion is great, but too much of it can be counter-productive for your growth.

      Hana

      P.S.: I’m sorry it took me so long to reply; I didn’t get any notification and I only remembered that you said you’d move the discussion onto the blog.

      Like

      • Dear Hana,

        Please never apologize for replying late. :) I am the queen of late replies, as you can see here. There are so many wonderful conversations to keep up with that it’s hard to keep track!

        What I understood from your reply is that when share your struggles with your colleagues, sometimes you end up feeling worse than you did before. This “clouding” may compound the issue rather than relieve any stress. I completely connect to this. I have come to learn I can’t share my struggles with certain people because this is the response I’ll get. It’s more tiring than uplifting, and I don’t need that.

        What your reply also made me think about is the definition of compassion. What you seem to describe sounds to me to be more like sympathy. I think that if an interaction is truly compassionate (or empathetic), there wouldn’t be any blaming involved (in this case the student you mentioned). Although it may feel good for the person saying it, the intention in saying it is less about you, and more about them. It reminds me of this short fantastic Brene Brown video https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw?list=PL-6Lyuc1-dBUnLOtwvK3qhNf_R3BpeIck Have you seen it?

        I hope my exploration into semantics doesn’t take away from your experience. I struggle with terms because I see myself in both. For example, I really want to be compassionate, but I can clearly point to times in the near past I’ve been sympathetic. I can also see how it wasn’t helpful. I can ALSO see how hard it was to say something different. I just need practice. I guess that’s why I’ve created this space for us. :)

        I really value this exploration with you. I am learning a lot. Thank you so much for putting your heart out there my dear.

        In gratitude,
        Josette

        Like

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