The Importance of Practicing What You Preach

practice-what-you-preach-walk-the-talk-clear-task3By Sabrina Bong — This past week, my cohort and I traveled to Madison for the Wisconsin School Counselor Association (WSCA) conference.

It was an incredible experience being able to spend three days with my (possibly future) colleagues. To me, the best part about the conference was seeing and hearing the journeys that everyone took: the elementary school counselor who has been with the same school district for over 35 years; the brand-new counselor who is working to improve attendance rates at her school; the college coordinator who inspired students to pursue a college education.

For me, it was like catching a glimpse of who I am now and who I ultimately want to be like.

On Wednesday morning, all of us were fortunate enough to hear a keynote address from Dr. Lawana Gladney, an emotional wellness doctor. Her address was entitled “Ten Things You Absolutely Need to Know to Maintain Your Sanity while Working with People.” When she explained the title of her presentation, all of us chuckled. After all, maintaining your sanity can be difficult in some situations!

She went over ten tips that we as counselors could do to maintain our sanity. As she described each point in detail, I found myself thinking about how important these ideas were.

Out of the ten tips, my favorite one was Number Seven: Practice What You Teach.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have given students advice about relationships, whether romantic ones or family ones. At the middle and high school levels, I do believe the majority of personal/social issues that students deal with involve their relationships. When I was at my middle school internship site on Friday, a student came in and was talking to me about how she is struggling with one of her friends. The friend always points out her flaws and is not very supportive.

“Why do you continue to be friends?” I asked her.

“Miss Bong, it’s really hard to find friends in middle school,” the girl explained. “I don’t want to have no friends.”

I could understand that, but at the same time, this friendship was really affecting this girl’s self-esteem. I talked to her about how friends should never use put-downs when talking to each other. I told her that friends should always support each other and believe in each other. By the end of our conversation, the girl had resolved to tell her friend that her feelings were being hurt.

Before she left the office, I asked her if this was what she really wanted to do. I reminded her that her friend could be really mad about the conversation. When I voiced these concerns, the student said, “Well, then I’d rather have no friends than a bad friend.”

How many of us have toxic people in our lives who bring us down, rather than build us up? I’m sure we all have at least one person that we dread speaking to, because we know the conversation will only revolve around negative aspects. Sometimes, we need to purge these people from our lives. It is only through eliminating these negative people that we are able to live happier, fuller lives. We should not have to be weighed down by their bad attitudes and hostile remarks.

As counselors, we are really intelligent (alright, maybe I’m a little biased, but we are pretty smart!)  We spend our lives giving other people advice on the best ways to live their lives. But sometimes, I think it is important that we slow down and recall our own advice. We know what we’re talking about.

Oh, and as a side note: Thank you to everyone who wished me luck on the Praxis. I am proud to say that all of us in the school counseling program passed our test. We look forward to graduating and being fully licensed professional school counselors!

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