SEL skills are LIFE skills

Know yourself to be your best self...

2 min read

a cartoon style picture of a person holding a kite
a cartoon style picture of a person holding a kite

Some call it grit, character, self-efficacy, or if you’re fancy you may call it emotional intelligence.

While there are a variety of terms that are used to describe our ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions; social emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which we can acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and necessary skills to comprehend and manage our emotions. As we grow in our capacity to do this, we will be able to achieve positive outcomes, experience and show empathy for others, and will enjoy growing and sustaining positive relationships. We may even make better choices within our circle of control.

In other words, SEL helps us know ourselves so we can be our best self.

SEL is:

  • Self-Awareness: Being aware of our emotions and thoughts that just spring up on us. It’s knowing how our emotions influence your behavior. Fancy words: self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-perceptions.

  • Self-Management: The skills we learn so that we can regulate our emotions and behaviors as we navigate life. It’s us being mindful of the goals we set and work towards. Fancy words: Impulse control, stress-management, self-discipline.

  • Responsible Decision-Making: We all make choices. Let’s make good ones. We can learn to make positive choices and take responsibility for both positive and negative outcomes. Fancy words: Problem solving, reflection, identifying & analysis.

  • Social-Awareness: Sometimes we are not the main character in the story. There are others around us. Good, worthy, and unique others around us. Oh, the joy in learning how to empathize with others on this beautiful journey. Fancy words: Empathy, respect, compassion.

  • SelfRelationship Skills: Better together? Well, either way, we are on this journey together. We can learn how to engage in healthy and positive relationships. Fancy words: Interpersonal communication, support networks, harmony.

SEL is not:

  • Indoctrination: I hear this all too often from concerned parents or community members who deeply care and want what is best for children and emerging adults. However, SEL was never about politicians. It was not even necessarily about mental health. It’s rooted in supporting people, empowering them to understand their emotions, and grow skills that will help them make better decisions along their journey. Yes, it should start at home, and these are life skills that are nurtured and developed in all settings of our journey.

  • A Magic Solution: Just because you learn these skills it does not mean that you are now immune to outbursts, poor choices, or even hurting other people with your words or actions. It’s a lifelong journey to managing our emotions. Where we can say, it’s okay to feel the way I feel. In fact, I am may even talk about it to understand where it comes from and why I feel this way. And then, I will better understand myself, the circumstances around me, and the people around me as I make better decisions around how I feel.

  • One Size Fit All: There is not a script to follow. There is no check list of living a resilient life by practicing SEL skills. You can be super tough, whatever that means. You can have a good cry. You can practice these skills in community or in the isolation of your inner peace. It can take place in a school, and it should take place at home. It’s a beautiful journey towards emotional resilience without a destination. You can call it wellness skills, resilience building skills, or event fluff bui duy. At the end of the day, it’s about being aware of your emotions and behaviors - so that as you know yourself better, you can choose to live better.