Paige: The Choice in Every Moment

July 7, 2022

I’ve been a social worker for 25 years, working with kids and families at a school for the deaf. All the kids rely on sign language, and most of the families don’t sign, and they have problems: all the problems kids have with school and other kids, and also the fact that they don’t share a language with their families. There aren’t many resources to help them, and the systems are broken and aren’t functioning well.

There’s so much burnout in my profession, because you start feeling limited in how you can help, up against so many obstacles. It can feel overwhelming and discouraging.

But I’ve also been practicing Dharma for over 20 years. So, year after year, I’m able to recalculate, like a GPS in a car, so I know I’m always heading in a good direction. To ask, what is my strategy? How am I going to look at the situation differently and help my students look at their situations differently, in order to bring about peace and in order for them to achieve their goals?

I know that there are always choices – we can always change our minds. And that’s what I bring to my students. That they can always change their minds and create a different outcome, from their side alone. You, from your own side, from changing your own mind, can change the situation, and cause other people to change, too.

I never lose hope. I have a different vision, and it’s much longer term. I understand that I’m helping to plant seeds for others, and maybe I won’t see the good effect right now, but I really believe that I’m helping to change a mind. So, no matter how much distress a student is in, or how many obstacles there are appearing in their life, I never feel like it’s a hopeless situation or that they are doomed. I’m able to sit with a student and look at them, week after week, with faith in their ability to have a good and a happy life, because there are always options, and at any time – that’s what I’ve learned through these teachings — we can make changes that will solve problems. Even with students who are suffering from depression and anxiety, I can teach them that their mind is so much bigger — that there’s still a place that they can go inside that’s safe.

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