Serving Ourselves So We Can Serve Others

Lindsay TitusBlog, Teach Happier


  • Educators are service-minded individuals. Before you can serve others, you must serve yourself.
  • Pay attention to your thoughts through the following four steps: awareness, acceptance, acknowledgment, and action.

One of the things that educators do really well is to serve others.  So many of us, myself included, are natural-born servers. We serve from the heart. We do it so naturally, sometimes I think we forget about how often we do serve others.  The thought of giving is a no-brainer, not usually something we need to think twice about. If a student needs something, we are there. If our parents ask for a meeting, we schedule one. If our administration asks us to share a strategy at a faculty meeting, we do it. If our colleague needs something, we are there without hesitation. 

Service-Minded Individuals

And all of this service is amazing. It’s what makes me proud to be an educator every day. Having the opportunity to work in a field that is so devoted to service is inspirational, influential, and impactful, to say the least! But one of the things I see so often is that as service-minded individuals, we forget it also includes serving ourselves.

If I were to ask you the last time you served someone, do you have that answer? Great! Now, what if I asked, when is the last time you served yourself? Which one have you done more recently? I know for myself, for a long time, I couldn’t even remember the last time I served myself. And now? Now I serve myself at least once a day, many times more than that!

When we think better, and our thoughts align to our values as an educator, then we are able to build a foundation within us that doesn’t crack under pressure, that doesn’t question who they are during stressful times. Click To Tweet

Committing to Yourself

Here is another way to think about it.  When is the last time you missed a commitment you had made to someone else? Now, when is the last time you broke a commitment to yourself? When it comes time to keeping our commitments, it’s often easier to keep those commitments when it involves someone else.  If this is you, know you are not alone. This is so common, especially for those of us who are givers and servers. 

But when it comes to thinking better, we’ve got to start putting ourselves first. Thinking better means owning and honoring the words we speak to ourselves. How can we honor them? By committing to them! 

The Words We Speak Are Powerful

When the words we speak match the actions we take, it not only shows trust to those around us, it shows trust within us! The words we speak, which derive from the thoughts we have, are an integral part of our own self-identity. And identity is the foundation to creating experiences in our lives that align to our inner purpose and passion!  

So how does this relate to thinking better? When we think better, and our thoughts align to our values as an educator, then we are able to build a foundation within us that doesn’t crack under pressure, that doesn’t question who they are during stressful times. Thinking better and owning who you are allows you to keep moving forward even when things in your environment are uncertain or a little chaotic. 

How Is That Possible? 

The identity we hold, which is, in part, created by the thoughts in our minds, is what drives behavior change. So often, I see educators change only the environment and expect something different to change. Things like: 

  • Changing the seating arrangement 
  • Changing the décor 
  • Changing the lesson plan 

All of these may help in the short term, but they are only surface level. They are environmental changes. To truly shift behavior stressors in the classroom, it starts within us. And the identity we hold as educators. 

The thoughts you speak to yourself and then believe to be true are powerful. Educators will often ask me for a simple step to start this process. And my answer is the same every time. Start paying attention and becoming aware of your thoughts. What are the words you speak to yourself? And get specific! 

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Mini Challenge for YOU

Here is a 3-day challenge for you! Over the next 3 days, spend at least 30 minutes (more is great) each day paying attention to your thoughts and write down what you are saying to yourself! This is a great activity to do in the mornings when you are getting ready, or any time your mind generally wanders or becomes filled with thoughts. This is your awareness part!

Now it’s about acceptance. Review your list. Be honest with yourself. Are the thoughts you are having helping to move you in the direction toward your purpose and why statement? Or are they pulling you further behind? It’s important to mention here, there is no judgment or shame in this step. It is a simple and honest reflection of where you are now.

The third step is to then acknowledge where you want to go next. If your thoughts are currently pulling you back, what thoughts will drive you further ahead?

The fourth step? It’s one we are all so good at! Time to take action! Put those new thoughts on index cards and put them places you can see them every day. 

And that is one simple and easy process you can take today to start thinking better, especially when it comes to your own self-belief in who you are as an educator!

Always remember, this is a process that you can personalize and practice every day! The purpose is to create meaning that aligns with you, your purpose, and your passion within our amazing field. If you couldn’t get it wrong, what is the first step you know to take today? Go take that step right now! I’m cheering you on every step of the way!

About Lindsay Titus

Lindsay Titus is a K-12 Behavior Specialist with a license in behavior analyst. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Lindsay coaches and trains educators on the study of behavior and how to implement evidence based behavior principles in simple and easy ways! With experience as a classroom special education teacher, and behavior specialist in public schools, residential placement, and private settings, Lindsay enjoys working with all educators looking to reignite their passion for education, connect with all students, and conquer challenging behavior in any classroom setting.