How A Student Taught Me To Rise Strong From Any Situation

In response to a recent blog post, Sulabha Krishnan mentioned the 3Rs -Reflection, Relationships and Resilience with regards to building communication.


I came across 3Rs this week too.
These are cited by accomplished author and researcher, Brené Brown, in her book, Rising Strong.


The Reckoning: Walking into our story


Recognize emotion, and get curious about our feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave.


The Rumble: Owning our story


Get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations to determine what’s truth, what’s self protection, and what needs to be change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.


The Revolution


Write a new ending to our story based on the key learning from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we can engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love, parent and lead.


The 3Rs are applicable to all areas of our lives.
I had the opportunity to apply them to a situation with an adult student.


The young man I was working with, refused to have anything to do with me.
As I put out a 60 piece puzzle (he loves puzzles) he put his head in his hands and closed his eyes.
I tried to get him to pay attention to what I was writing. No chance. He wasn’t interested.
His attention was solely focused on how he could get away and get back to his ‘regular routine.’


Then I thought I’d tempt him by making pizza together.
I had painstakingly prepared for the session and had all the ingredients handy.


He managed to pull a fast one on me and ate all the cheese, without helping to make the pizza!
He’s well built and strong. And way faster than me.
He was content to sit behind his favorite desk and not interact with me.


What was going on? It was my turn to put my head in my hands and close my eyes!


It was time for the reckoning.
Nothing worked the way I envisioned it would.
I thought it would be a smooth sail with him being an active participant. It was anything but that.
I reflected on how it made me feel.
Ooh! It wasn’t a nice feeling. He had me out at sea, floundering.


But more importantly, why was he being so avoidant? Why couldn’t I get through to him?


Then the rumble started.


Get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations to determine what’s truth, what’s self protection, and what needs to be change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.


In context of the assessment, I had to sit back and think through what had happened the previous day.
What ever I tried didn’t work. My attitude was pretty much like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. “Tomorrow’s another day.”


The all pervading question was, ‘what’s really going on?’
‘How can I help this young man lead a more productive life?’


I had time- to struggle and grapple with this issue. I would not give up, till I succeeded.
2 things stood out. I had to set limits. Not physical limits, as he was much stronger than I was.
He used his strength to get away. He knew my limitations and weakness- just as he did his mother’s and all the staff members.


I wanted him realize that though he was strong, it was beneficial for him to stay and engage with me.
That would require deep inner firmness, courage, clarity and perseverance from me.


Secondly, because of the way our timetables were set- he won every time.
Each session is 30 minutes long.
Even if a teacher didn’t want to give up on him- he or she had to as they had the next child waiting for them at the new session. So he would return from the toilet (after 15 minutes) and quickly go sit at his favorite desk- his comfort zone.
And this is how his day went- a struggle to get him to comply.


Though my time was limited, I had stretches of an hour to work with him.
I decided to go the whole haul. I blocked an hour from my day, for a week with him.


It is this struggle or the rumble that Brené talks about.


The next day I tried several activities- typing, starting a puzzle to leave it incomplete, cooking and coming back to the incomplete puzzle.
It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.


After day 2, he realized I was relentless.
He decided to stay and engage with me.


Revolution: I figured how to actually work through a difficult situation. This will help the mother and the staff members to work more effectively.
It will also help the student to have a more productive life.


A point to note is, I couldn’t have gone from 1(reckoning) to 3 (revolution) without the rumble. The rumble is about acting and grappling with what makes one uncomfortable.




By applying the 3Rs to this to this situation, I learned more about life.
It highlighted a different aspect.


Here’s the punch list.


• Examine your own feelings about the situation.

• Take responsibility. Numbing or pretending that a problem doesn’t exist, doesn’t help.

• Face it head on. Engage with discomfort.

• It’s alright to struggle.

• Only the rumble can create a revolution.

• Use the fresh perspective to create value.


I’ve always believed my students are my teachers.
I tried to create value in this young man’s life.
In return, he taught me about life itself.


You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, if may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.


– Maya Angelou



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