I began holding conversations with myself as an exercise to hear back exactly what I needed and wanted to hear. Contrary to popular joke that you're going crazy when you start answering yourself, it was grand to hear unabashed praise, affection and tenderness.
They were the precise words I craved to hear, and they instantly cheered me. It was like never being alone and having a constantly positive companion who adored me.
I noticed that my eyes flicked from side-to-side as the two conversed. The left always initiated the talking and was the upset one. The voice looking right, however, spoke very little but was always positive. More surprisingly, it was only in the present. In huge contrast, the voice looking left worried incessantly about the past and the future.
My eyes flicked naturally from 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock (as if looking at a clock). I tried other combinations but found them too hard to hold. At times when it was not possible to look askance such as when driving, I experimented just thinking 2 o'clock and repeated saying "2 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 2 o'clock" and noticed that it was immediately calming.
Of course, just breaking negative thinking makes one feel better, but this gave a structure, something to actually do, that gave instant relief. Too often, negative thinking spins like a hamster-wheel that won't stop, and if unchecked, can lead to a panic attack.
Having a quick ace to pull out anytime I found myself sinking into a quagmire of negative thoughts was like a buoy of salvation. It brought me back to the surface to deal with the present.
Having one person completely understand you and still like you is like manna from heaven. I began to like myself better, too, for I'd accessed that part of me that wasn't judgmental, caustic, easily offended or fearful. After a month of doing this exercise, just thinking "2 o'clock" makes me smile. It has become my new best friend.
Chinese high school students study from 7:00am to 10:30pm with an hour nap mid-day. They are doing all their classes in English, the same curriculum as a Nova Scotia high school student. However, in addition they have to study IELTS to show their English is high enough to get into most western universities. They also study Chinese philosophy in Chinese. So they get two high school diplomas, one from China and one from Canada.
Thus, they study with a dedication rarely seen in America or Canada. Studying is their job, the foundation to their dream to go to a good school abroad. Falling in love is prohibited by most parents as they fear it will be a distraction. They are so obsessed with improving their English that they attend supplemental classes on weekends, holidays and over the summer.
To them, a weekend not studying is boring. Watching movies and playing computer games is seen as a waste of time for which they feel so guilty, they don't seem to find them relaxing. Since most are single children, they miss their friends at school.
It is a joy to teach these students. Behavioral problems are not an issue. The worst is they fall asleep in class. But then many stay up until midnight or later finishing their homework. However, smart phones have caused many to lose sleep, playing computer games or chatting with friends on QQ (Chinese version of Facebook).
Overall, they are attentive, dedicated and appreciative of our Sino-Canadian program. Used to classes of 60-80 students with one teacher and rote learning by memorization and recitation, it is a joy for them to have classes of only 35 where the teachers make jokes and are friendly. To be expected to share and write their opinions is a new experience and sometimes has to be taught.
Since the kids pick an English name, it seemed fun to have a Chinese name, and years ago friends picked Shan Shan for me. It means cute, pretty girl.
Try it! You'll like it!