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15 Things This Teacher Didn’t Learn in High School but Wants You to Know



things you won't learn in high school
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I have been a high school teacher for 21 years. I have taught math, social studies, reading, physical education, and more. A few years back, I gave a similar list like the one below to my graduating seniors as a “gift.” It was entitled “15 Things I Did Not Learn in High School, but I wish I did.” I was especially fond of this group. They were all good kids and had a good work ethic.

So when I was making up their final exam, I reflected back to when I was a senior and close to graduation. I thought about all I learned as an adult that I wish I knew as a “kid.” Things no one ever discussed or if they did, it wasn’t important enough for me to remember. Most likely, both are equally true.

There is a saying when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I know at the time I wasn’t ready for the list below. I don’t think most 18-year-olds are ready for the list below. However, you would be surprised how many kids I taught come back and say, “do you remember when you said this ………?” They hear you, but sometimes they don’t listen to you until they are ready.

As a teacher, here are 15 things I didn’t learn when I was in school that you need to know:

1. Give a good handshake

A proper handshake is essential. Not only does it make a good first impression with someone you meet, but it also gives an air of confidence in yourself. You will shake thousands of hands in your life, and you will leave thousands of first impressions. Have a good handshake and an alert presence when greeting a new person or an old friend or colleague.

2. Be an Overachiever

Giving less than your best is lame. It gets you nowhere in life and will only hold you back. Strive in all you do. Be a person that aims high. You may not always reach your highest goals, but you will be a lot closer than someone who just “gets by.”

3. Don’t be a resumé thrower

I have never met someone who I enjoy being around for an extended amount of time who feels it is necessary to let me know his credentials. Save the resumé for job applications and interviewers. No one likes someone who has to tell you where they went to college, what sport they excelled at, or what people they know. If you ask, great, but don’t voluntarily throw out your proudest moments to look or feel more important.

4. Don’t whine or complain

I ask this question each semester with the new students I teach. “Does anyone like someone who whines or complains.” I never have one hand go up. We all know this, but we have a hard time following through with it. Whiners and complainers kill your mojo. Stay away from them and make it a point not to be one. Save the complaining for that one close friend or spouse. Not everyone you talk to wants to hear what’s going wrong with your day.

5. Enthusiasm is for real

It might seem “cliché,” but it’s the truth. Enthusiasm can change a challenging situation into a rewarding one. Have energy in your work, with your children, or in your hobbies. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are enthusiastic, other people will have enthusiasm as well. Don’t be a Debbie Downer. People feed off both positive and negative behavior.

6. Find a mentor

We can learn so much from other people. Whether it is in our profession, hobbies, health, and wellness, spending time with people who are “better” than us and whom we can learn from will accelerate our progress. Why reinvent the wheel when someone already has?

7. Be a copycat

Along with finding a mentor, start observing those we admire. If you want confidence, watch confident people. How do they move their bodies? What do they say? Modeling others’ behavior and mannerisms are quick and easy and don’t require any money or resources. The internet offers us a wealth of free material. We can utilize it to our advantage for more than “surfing” the web. If you want confidence, watch a video of someone famous who portrays confidence. Copy what they do. Your mind will follow your body.

8. Be humble

One of the best character traits of an individual is someone who does extraordinary things and doesn’t feel the need to brag, boast, or tell others. Today’s social media-frenzied society has lost track of this outstanding personal quality. We all love the humble person, although we know they are a “badass” at life.

9. Do things that scare you often

Each time we do something challenging, stressful, scary, or uncomfortable, we get a stronger mentality. Like a rubber band, you stretch it once, it recoils. You stretch it, again and again; eventually, it doesn’t recoil back to its original shape. Doing things that scare you is similar to the rubber band. The more times we do things outside of our comfort zone, the more we shed our old mentality of what is challenging and the stronger we become.

10. Exercise

Exercise makes you feel better, hhelps you sleep better and  enables you to think better. It is good for you, and it doesn’t need to be some elaborate routine at a gym. Go for a hike, a walk, do some burpees or sit-ups. Anything is better than nothing, and you will elevate your mood. It is no secret that people with anxiety and depression are prescribed exercise to help them alleviate symptoms.

11. Smile a lot

A couple things about smiling. When you smile, your mood changes almost automatically. Not a fake smile, a genuine big smile will make you feel better. Smiling also puts others at ease. It makes you welcoming, and people will want to be with you. It is hard to be angry when you are genuinely smiling.

12. Watch your language

I am not talking about using or not using profanity, I am talking about changing our definition of words to empower us. I use the word “Fun” to describe activities that make us better. A hard work out is “fun.” Reading a challenging book is “fun.” If you equate difficult tasks with opportunities for improvement as “fun,” they will be much more enjoyable and less arduous. Is it “challenging” or “hard”? Simply changing the definition of our words or changing a word from something like ”hard” to “challenging”, changes your perception of the task at hand.

13. Be grateful

There is so much to be thankful for in life. Yes, sometimes it’s tough to feel grateful. A loved one is struggling. Your bills are due. We all have our stuff that makes life tough at times. Like a snowball that gets rolled in wet snow, what we focus on will grow. Focus on the good things, and you will see more good things in your life.

14. Give compliments

It’s common sense, but people like to hear good things about themselves. Make people feel good. It not only helps them feel better but makes you feel better as well. Tell someone you like their hair. They have a great smile. You love their shoes. With so much negativity around, a little positive energy is always welcomed and good. The more compliments you give, the more you get back in return. I do not know how it works, but it happens.

15. Take full responsibility for everything in your life

I saved this for last because to me it is the most significant piece of advice I think someone could benefit from. You could also rephrase it to say, I will not make excuses and not allow other people to make excuses for me. When you take full responsibility in all you do, your life will change, and it will change for the better. No more blame. No more apathy. Decide to take responsibility and hold yourself accountable for everything. When you do that, the world and the people around you change. You no longer are at the mercy of others or circumstances. You become an active participant with a choice to make things better or worse.

My name is John Klessinger. I am a 44-year-old physical education teacher, high school wrestling coach, and fitness trainer. I have been a public high school teacher and wrestling coach for the past 21 years. I have worked in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and group fitness instructor for the past fifteen years. I have been married nearly 18 years to my wife, Kristel and we have two teenagers, Ellie, who is 15 and Mason, almost 13. You can check out my other blog posts at and eBook "Strong Mind Strong Body" on Amazon Kindle. 

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.



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Balance…it requires an equal distribution of value between two or more subjects to maintain steady composure and equitable proportionality. (more…)

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How to Find the Courage to Start New

Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.



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It’s 2023, a new year, new you, right? But how do we start over? How do we make the changes in our lives that we crave so much to see?  (more…)

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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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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma



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 and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
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