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Pausing to Return To School

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor E. Frankl

Why am I back at graduate school for a certificate in Transformational Leadership & Coaching from the Wright Graduate University?

There's a few reasons.

First, I want to better understand the developmental process in everyone, not just myself. I want to integrate the scholars of our time into my own inner-voice.

I also want to know how psychology theories and disciplines are different, how these show up for others and myself, and learn techniques to help others learn more about this.

It's all part of my nine-month grad school cirriculum, focused on Emotional Intelligence and Human Development at an academic and experiential level. I think of going back to school part-time as a shift in my intentional behavior – a Pause – that is allowing me to see and experience new ways of being and living that I wouldn’t otherwise have had if I hadn’t made the shift. I am pausing to learn, study, and better understand why we do what we do in ourselves and with each other. I find it fascinating.

The idea of studying at the graduate level is daunting. It scares me. Yet I feel exhilarated. I’m a student again. I’m learning about myself. I’m learning a lot of other cool stuff, but at the core it always comes back to me. I'm going to have to take a hard look at myself, and objectively see how things like EI plays out in my life (or doesn't). That means I get to practice being more vulnerable. Historically, I resist vulnerability on many levels.

I also know that going to school is demanding. Because of these high demands, it's vital that I get nourished in body, mind and spirit.

What does nourishment mean exactly?

To me, nourishment is when I follow my yearnings, which is something that I crave at a deep level. As Dr. Judith Wright shares [1], "Each of us have yearnings, and it's part of the human condition: to matter, to be loved, to be seen."

What's one of my yearnings today? I want to matter!

When I follow my yearning to matter, I connect with others, through eye contact, or an engaged conversation, and I feel nourished.

When I meet these yearnings, I get something out of it. I feel "nourished"when I meet my yearning. Yearnings happen moment by moment, and can vary depending on many factors like how you feel, what your environment is, or who you are with.

Meeting yearnings are a great tool for self-care.

Being back in academia is nourishing and stimulating. It meets a few yearnings I have: to matter, to make a difference, and to learn. Like any activity I can partake in, school can easily be draining - staying up researching, documenting, and adding more things to my to-do list. It can also be nourishing, or rewarding, where I feel like I relate and connect with classmates, feel good about a new nugget of knowledge I absorbed, or write a killer paper. Both are possible outcomes, but it's my choice in how I chose to be in that activity, that determines if I feel nourished!

I can decide if any activity will be nourishing, or draining. This is the choice we all make, in any activity.

I can always choose to nourish myself. It may be difficult, and it may involve me being vulnerable. I can notice when I am a victim (my favorite drama triangle role) or be overly critical of my mistakes. I can even celebrate this resistance (oh there I go again, pout pout). Or, I can choose to express what I'm feeling and get nourished. Emotions express themselves as a sudden discharge, and like character traits, they have a definite goal and direction [2].

Expressing is all part of being authentic. Authenticity is defined as “the self that I am capable of becoming [1].” Looking at how this relates to me, my authentic self knows that all of my emotions are part of my self-care system and that I need to honor them. I know all my emotions are ok. I learned that nourishment can only happen in the here and now, and the more I avoid any emotions, not only am I not present, but I’m missing out on all the feelings that my authentic self craves to experience.

As I learn more and more from those whose shoulder’s I stand on in the six disciplines, I realize that all of them had their own insights as it relates to development and helping others reach their potential. I am digging into what I’m learning. It’s fascinating stuff, and I’ve only just begun.


[1] Wright, Judith, and Bob Wright. Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living. Nashville: Turner Publishing, 2012.

[2]. Adler, Alfred. Understanding Human Nature. New York: Greenberg, 1927.

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