Shining a Light on the Shadows

Once you start positively reframing what’s around you, when you can make the conscious decision that there is always an upside, you start to notice the strengths and opportunities for growth and knowledge.
Moon Sliver

I went for a walk this morning. Okay, it was 4:00 a.m. Sometimes my brain has a mind of its own. It wanted to contemplate all my thoughts, worries, blessings, excitement and fears simultaneously. Of course, it made me think about our 2e kids, my clients, and how they struggle with their own spirograph of thoughts; spinning intricate patterns of hope and fear in their minds.

So often we struggle with getting outside of our own heads, finding the place of peace and serenity in our minds. My loyal poodle by my side, we walked until we found a place to sit where we could just listen and notice what was around us. Trying to get outside of my thoughts I noticed the leaves rustling and tripping over the road, bird songs sounding clear and true. Even traffic – people going somewhere, but where at 4:00 am? Even this observation helped me shift my perspective – someone HAS to be somewhere at this time – I CHOSE to be somewhere at this time. I felt my muscles relax a little bit.

When we began walking back home, as we turned a corner, I looked up and saw a sliver of the moon. This sliver was so bright that the rest of the moon – over three quarters of the moon – was visible only as its shadow. There were two very bright stars closely adjacent to the moon. It got me thinking (there goes that brain again), sometimes we only see the things in front of us – what’s brightest, loudest, most confusing or troubling. But that’s rarely the whole story; there’s a shadow of what we see. There’s the other side, the reflection of our experience and it just might be bigger and more important and even more accurate than what is most obvious.

Like the shadow of the moon, only noticeable when I took paused to look closely, those of us living with and working with 2e kids need to search in the shadows of what we see  – contemplate and mingle with the less obvious. Allow yourself to look beyond or behind how your child or student behaves and notice how you feel in the moment. Can you shift your perspective? Don’t take what you see at face value. So, with this in mind, what did those two bright stars mean? They were so close to the moon – I’ve never seen stars in that proximity to the moon. (I found out their names; Venus and regulus.) I realized, sometimes you’ve got to “think outside the moon.” Rather than always having to “fix” something or someone, focus on what’s right about them. Grab hold of the “upside,” I promise there always is one.

My clients frequently ask me how I see the positive. It’s a shift, for sure, but once you start positively reframing what’s around you, when you can make the conscious decision that there is always an upside, you start to notice the strengths and opportunities for growth and knowledge. At the bare minimum, underlying challenging behavior is a clash of able-to-do with unable-to-do. The child’s frustration is so much more difficult than the effects of their behavior on us. Think about that. What they are dealing with and what led them to this point of unwanted behavior? The experience is even more challenging and disappointing for them.

Here we are, mid-summer and parents, students and teachers are thinking “What’s to come?” Some clients are still unsure where their kids will go in the fall. Many parents are wondering how their child will do at school. Teachers are learning – choosing conferences and classes to address their passions and possibly to fill in their gaps in knowledge in academics or classroom management. Gifted and 2e adults may be contemplating their work life – the next move and how to remain engaged and interested in their job or their relationships.

The challenges we may see in our children, our students and ourselves – those are squarely within that bright luminescent sliver of the moon I saw. But even though that was the most obvious part of the moon in the sky that early morning, the shadow part of the moon was many times bigger. What’s in the shadows of our children’s behavior? What lies beneath and behind the obvious, what challenge, what struggle is the child grappling with? What are the blessings concurrent with our own angst?

It’s the non-obvious on which we need to shine a bright light, look through our binoculars and hone in on what lies behind or even adjacent to the things that seem to be screaming for our attention. In those shadows are where you will find how to support your child or student impactfully, how to fill yourself with renewed encouragement to move forward

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Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-confidence in their students and clients.

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