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10 Remarkable Lessons From an Unconventional School Teacher

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Image Credit: Erin Gruwell

Erin Gruwell is the founder of The Freedom Writers Foundation, created to inspire and show young people a better way of life. An educator by profession, she has worked with high school students and inspired change through her unique teaching methods.

The movie Freedom Writers is based on her teaching experience that led to the creation of the Freedom Writers Foundation. It’s an inspirational movie about how 150 students turned their lives around, who today are inspiring others to do the same.

Here are 10 practical lessons from the movie that can change your own life:

1. Be relevant

The education system worldwide is a broken one and most of what is taught doesn’t add value to students’ lives. In some ways, it’s designed to create slaves of its recipients that never learn to think for themselves. Only when Erin Gruwell connected with her students at Woodrow Wilson at a deeper level, was she able to make a difference. 

By altering her curriculum and teaching what they could relate to, she finally got their attention and made an impact. Her students came alive and started to view their lives and situations in a more positive light.

2. Writing is therapeutic

The common factors among Erin’s students were emotional pain and insecurity that was often expressed through violence and hatred. Gang violence was a way of life in Long Beach California during those times between different races. Such a life felt hopeless for the young people who saw no bright future for themselves.

This was compounded by seeing their friends getting killed through gang violence. Erin came up with an idea for her students to journal whatever they were feeling. She got them journals and as they wrote, it became a healing experience that helped them see things differently.

“I realized if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities, you can change the world.” – Erin Gruwell

3. Life isn’t just about money

It’s a deception that success in life is mainly about making a lot of money and living a flashy lifestyle. Most people spend most of their lives chasing after that dream but find it doesn’t bring lasting happiness. Erin’s dad had wanted her to take up a better-paying career instead of teaching which he felt was too menial for her.

Real success has to do with adding value and making a difference in other people’s lives. If you do it right and consistently, avenues to make money and have a better lifestyle will open up. Today Erin runs The Freedom Writers Foundation which empowers other teachers to make a difference in their students’ lives. Her track record has awarded her various opportunities to share her story through various platforms.

4. Balance is important

Given the impact she has made all these years, it’s easy to tell that she loves teaching. The sad part about her story is that her success came at the expense of her marriage. Her husband often felt neglected because Erin spent most of her time with her students, forgetting to make time for him too.

Success isn’t worth it if you can’t share it with those closest to you. It’s often a challenge for highly motivated people to strike a balance but it must be done intentionally nonetheless. They may not have been a good match but divorce, however, is never pretty. Maybe she could have struck a balance between her husband and work and still be married today.

5. Believe in your dream

The most powerful dreams often don’t make sense before they become a reality. Erin’s motivation for taking up the teaching job at Woodrow Wilson High School was the integration program. Most of the teachers felt it was a lie and impossible to achieve due to all the gang violence.

Erin went the extra mile many times to break new ground and show her students what was possible. Your God-given dreams only make sense to you until you show others that they can be real. You therefore shouldn’t get discouraged if people misunderstand you.

6. Turn negatives into positives

The painful experiences of Erin’s students culminated in them publishing The Freedom Writers Diary, a compilation of their journals. Having read the book myself, it was painful just reading about what they went through as young people. On the bright side, myself and others who read it, got inspired to overcome the obstacles in our own lives.

The sales from their book were channeled towards funding their college education after graduating high school. It goes to show that even your mistakes can be used for something positive. Those same students went on to work with Erin in the Freedom Writers Foundation to share their message with students around the country.

7. Lack of experience doesn’t have to stop you

Erin’s designation at Woodrow Wilson was her first teaching job and she only spent four years there. She accomplished a lot more than other teachers who had been there for decades. Experience certainly helps but doesn’t have to be the only thing that qualifies you to take on big assignments.

Learn from those in your field but don’t use their success as a measure for what you can accomplish. You’re unique and that means you can do certain things in ways that others can’t. Bring your flavor to the table and see the beautiful things that you can create.

8. There’s more that unites us than divides us

Despite their cultural differences, Erin’s students came to realize that they were the same at the core. The hatred they had towards each other blinded them to this truth for a long time until they let it go. It took Erin’s guidance to help them see that and foster a sense of unity among them.

The more united people become, the more they can accomplish together. On a personal level, think about the people you somewhat despise and choose to see their positive side. The differences serve to help you see things from a different perspective while working towards a common goal.

“Be the kind of people that have enough passion to change the world. If we let ourselves be fire, thunder, or lightning, we could alter everything.” – Erin Gruwell

9. Potential is immeasurable

I doubt that Erin could have imagined what she would accomplish with her students that society had written off. For a long time, it was always expected that most students would never graduate; either because they’d give up or die through gang violence. All of Erin’s students went on to graduate from high school which was a tremendous achievement. In the same way, you can’t predict what you can accomplish until you step out in faith and pursue your God-given dreams. 

10. Be true to yourself

At the end of the day, Erin Gruwell lives a fulfilling life because she’s pursued what she was created for. God has a great plan for your life and even if it doesn’t always make sense, believe in it. You sell yourself short when you allow other people to create your life for you, and it brings regrets.

Sija Mafu is an Online Enthusiast and Personal Development Fan. His vision is to see young people take responsibility for their lives and create bright futures for themselves, their families and society at large. He runs the Motivated2Inspire blog to inspire young people to pursue their life purpose. Also check out his free training courses to set you up for a life of success.

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Life

Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.

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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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Life

5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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Life

3 Simple Steps to Cultivate Courage and Create a Life of Meaning

we cultivate meaning in our lives when we pursue our calling

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Our deepest human desire is to cultivate meaning in our lives. Our deepest human need is to survive. (more…)

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Life

Grit: The Key to Your Ultimate Greatness

Grit is an overlooked aspect of success, but it plays a critical role.

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A grit mindset is an essential key to your greatness. It’s what separates those who achieve their goals from those who give up and never reach their potential. It’s also the difference between success and failure, happiness and misery. If you want to be great and achieve your dreams, then you need grit. Luckily, it’s something that can be learned. Please keep reading to learn more about grit and discover four ways to develop it. (more…)

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