A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve. Since I started at COR almost one year ago I have created relationships with the three guys I serve that without a doubt will last a lifetime. Being able to care for someone on a daily basis and watch them grow as people has been one of the most professionally satisfying accomplishments to date. Watching the look on the guys faces while they do things they love can turn even the worst of days around in a heart beat.
I would have to say I more so reciprocate a culture of gentleness however. To say I create a culture of gentleness would minimize the amount of caring that these individuals show us who come in to serve them. The three guys I support have some of the biggest hearts I have ever met. They will share what ever it is they have with out batting an eye. I strongly believe the culture of gentleness is created by those who we serve.
Danny, COR Support
When I heard the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, it seemed like the most simple and effective way of giving the individuals we support at COR the best quality of life. Safe, loved, loving and engaged- the four pillars that make up Gentle Teaching- make so much sense! When I look at my own life, I know that with these four pillars present I feel the most valued so I want to always make sure that the girls I support feel that way too.
Whether the girls are having a good day or a bad day, I feel like it is important to make sure they know they are still loved unconditionally and supported no matter what. I want them to feel that they can approach me and feel comfortable to communicate and be themselves with me. I feel that I best deliver a culture of gentleness through my communication. I let the girls know that I am here for them, we build trust in each other, and strong relationships form. I always remember that the girls are people first. We all go through rough times but that doesn’t mean that they are any less than anyone else. When, for example, the girls feel down, maybe frustrated or upset, we use our ability to communicate to help them get back to feeling their best. It is important for them to know that they are not bad nor have done something wrong. Instead, we talk through the situation in a way which lets them know that they are still supported and loved and our relationship has not changed. Having patience and a sense of calmness often works in the house that I support at. When the girls see that I am open to helping them and keeping them feeling safe and loved they respond better in the ways we communicate.
I feel like in order to maintain a culture of gentleness it is important to not think of supporting as work. At the end of the day, yes this is a job, but it is so much more than that. How many jobs allow you to help improve the lives of others while building such meaningful relationships with those individuals? The benefits I see in the individuals lives that come from the culture of gentle teaching make my life as a support so rewarding. Because of the benefits I see with Ruby and Lanie and the way Gentle Teaching works with them it motivates me to continue the way I approach my support times with the girls. They have experienced a lot of change in the last 6 months which can easily take a toll on them. Seeing the way our team has used gentle teaching over these last 6 months and the positive improvements it has made with the girls just reinforces once again the impact that it has and the importance of maintaining it in the way we support.
Elise, COR Support
How has Gentle Teaching transformed the person you are or aspire to be?
For the first time in my life, I am employed by a company that has the same philosophies as me and provides countless opportunities and encouragement to dive deeper into an exciting journey of self exploration and self development. I will be forever appreciative for this experience.
Gentle Teaching has transformed the person I am today; I see differently; I speak differently; I touch differently; I vibe differently. I now understand how paramount things like safety, love, and engagement are in maintaining my current relationships and also building new, healthy, empowering relationships.
Gentle Teaching has also transformed the hundreds of interactions I have each and every single day, whether that be with my family members, partners, friends, strangers, or my pets. For example, I am constantly practicing Gentle Teaching with my fur-babies: two beagles. Beagles are stubborn, messy, loud, and stinky … but they also give the best cuddles, are the source of many laughs, and love me unconditionally. Sometimes, when they are not getting the proper attention and engagement that they need, they eat everything (literally everything – the bed frame has large chunk missing and the phone jack has been eaten off the wall), they puke on the new couch, howl at my neighbours, and are incredibly stubborn to train. Despite all of this chaos they cause in my life, I find it so easy to love them unconditionally. I no longer raise my voice or punish them when they do wrong. I only use touch and words in a positive way. However, sometimes when I feel like I cannot properly practice Gentle Teaching with my dogs and need time to myself, the pups visit Gramma and Grampa; this allows me time to recharge and recover so I can give them the best care I can. Gentle teaching has strengthened my relationship with my pets which is transferable to every other relationship in my life.
Despite all of the changes I’ve made so far, I’m not perfect. While I try my best to practice what I preach, sometimes I slip up. Honestly, I still aspire to be a more patient person. At the beginning of my Gentle Teaching journey, I often lost my patience on insignificant things; bad drivers, needy dogs, demanding partners. I feel like along my gentle teaching training was also a lesson in patience. I now know that the person is more important than the task at hand. It also taught me that, in disagreements, I no longer need to have the last word. Also, sometimes people have bad days and I do not need to take it personally. Hopefully, the relationship I have with that person was built on such a strong foundation that they can offer me the same compassion and understanding that I would offer to them when they need it most. I am also doing my best to love people unconditionally and aspire to have a positive journey to love without conditions and BE loved without conditions.
I have only been practicing Gentle Teaching for about a year. Now that I have a taste of this philosophy, I want to continue to change. I want to know more. I want others to learn the benefits of gentle teaching. I want to lead by example. I want to make a difference.
Diandra, COR Support
The way that I create and maintain a culture of gentleness surrounding the women I support is through curiosity, warmth, and the building up of others. These three elements feed into one another and are tangibly helpful in sustaining the positive morale and affectionate atmosphere that are vital to a culture of gentleness.
Curiosity implies interest, attention, respect, and good-naturedness, all of which are essential to building and maintaining a culture of gentleness. In the time I have been supporting at COR, I have consistently made a point of asking questions and approaching those I serve and my team with openness and attentiveness. I have found that it is much easier to build pleasant, amicable, and trusting relationships when the other senses your interest in them. Approaching the individuals I serve with curiosity means that I do not assume I know what they want, nor do I cut them off mid-sentence because I think I know what they will say. Instead, I try to listen with fresh ears every day in hopes that I might see and hear things that might otherwise get missed for that individual. Approaching my fellow team members with curiosity means asking how their day went and actually listening to the response. It means refraining from gossip or judgement when someone has made a mistake, and giving that person the benefit of the doubt. I truly believe that this is an essential piece to maintaining good team morale, and by extension, a happy and healthy emotional climate surrounding the individuals we serve.
Hence, I take that curiosity one step further by projecting genuine warmth and care to everyone in our circle. The most important aspect of the culture of gentleness for me is the sense of ease and comfort I feel when approaching others within our community. It is an amazing thing to be surrounded by so many kind, genuine, and warm individuals and to feel safe from judgement, ridicule, or rejection when moving through said group. It is important to me that others feel that same security in me, and so I strive to project amiability, not only to those I support and my teammates, but to everyone else within our immediate community.
That warmth and openness can be taken even further in the form of building up others around me. Greeting an acquaintance by name, remembering what they like, or asking a thoughtful question can make them feel seen and important. Encouraging and complimenting can likewise give someone a well-needed boost to keep doing their best. If I can build up the individuals I support, other supports or even COR friends and family members by doing any of these things, then that person I uplift is more likely to turn around and pay the same kindness forward to someone else. That, to me, is life force behind a culture of gentleness.
Ashley, COR Support
Without a doubt, Gentle Teaching has transformed the person I am and the person (and nurse) I aspire to be. Gentle teaching isn’t a job, or just an area within COR that I happen to work in, but a lifestyle and something I plan to carry with me for the rest of my life as I have seen the difference it can make. Gentle Teaching hasn’t changed the world around me, but has taught me how to change things in myself. Simply putting it, gentle teaching has changed my life and because of it, made me a better person. It has given me a new lens to view the world, and new ways to interact with the people in it. It has given me the tools to build genuine and loving relationships with the people in my life. Gentle teaching has shown me that everyone, from the individual that I serve with COR, to my friends and family, to the patients I care for, to people I meet out in the community, all have things I can learn from them and without gentle teaching I wouldn’t have the tools to make these meaningful connections and allowing me to learn so much from others. Since working with COR I have realized that the individual I support has taught me so many things about life, about resilience, and about kindness. He has been an incredible teacher and a great example of how to be loving towards others, and how much a smile and a simple ‘hello’ to a stranger is appreciated. And as much as I hate to admit it now, something I would avoid prior to working with individual I serve.
In my journey of becoming a nurse, I have seen a lot of people, especially many nurses, that have forgotten that people deserve to be treated like exactly that, a person. Not a disease, diagnosis or disability, not a room number or the next thing on a never ending to-do list, but a person. Generally in the hospital setting a patient is probably having one of their worst days, and the simple acts of kindness, compassion and a human connection can make an incredible difference for them. Nursing is a demanding profession and it can be easy on a busy day to become overwhelmed and forget that our job is to care for our patients. It is easy to become frustrated and cold towards them and be upset that they need so much from us. Going forward in my nursing career I will always use the tools that gentle teaching has given me and incorporate them in to my nursing practice as much as any other skill or technique that I have acquired over my time as nursing student. I will always treat my patients as people first and not the issues they are dealing with. I will remember that it is the changes that I make within myself when caring for them that makes the difference. I plan to always be genuine with my patients and make the time to build unconditional relationships with them, providing an environment for them to feel safe, supported and secure with me, allowing us to work towards the goal of health and wellness together. Gentle Teaching has been an invaluable tool for me, and I am so thankful that I found this organization and discovered this way of life.
Kate, COR Support
The ability to sense the layers of our reality through the five senses is a cognitive ability I never thought that I had been taking for granted. To slip on ice and understand that I will experience a fall. To put a cup to my lips and taste water. If I place my hand on a wall my mind interprets the grainy textures, red flecked colours and weight. What would happen if suddenly my arm were to plunge through to the other side. I would likely be over taken by shock, a deep surprise that would freeze my body. Slowly my senses would reestablish however that I was okay. My hand fine, and light and air pouring through the hole. How would my life feel if I wasn’t able to navigate these obvious, and simple experiences?
When I put a cup to my lips my reality rudely interrupted by past phantoms telling me to not make sucking noises like an animal. While walking, to fall and not have the certainty of a welcome hand to help me up, but instead the creeping fog of embarrassment. Reality, perception, both faculties of my mind that the individuals I serve do not always have the privilege of captaining. For them gentle teaching is a blessing and reprieve from a life of conditioning that what fears may exist in the folds of their reality may mean embarrassment, discouragement and ridicule. My gentle teaching is helping those individuals to understand that there is a safety in times of disparity, encouragement in fear and acceptance in embarrassment.