Social Thinking Articles

Five Lessons You Taught Me

Michelle Garcia Winner

Article_ST Dec 2016 NL

It’s December again, a time of year I reflect upon the months that have so quickly passed and how life has unfolded (or unraveled, as the case may be!) for me, personally and professionally.


My colleague Pam Crooke and I have traveled across the United States, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Canada, and throughout Asia in 2016. This year has been one heck of a ride, challenging so many of us with everything from wild storms to wild fires, shifting economies and turbulent elections worldwide. As wild as day-to-day life can be, it is always a teacher. I learn a lot from the people whose lives I directly connect with, so this year I thought I’d share five lessons that have made strong impressions on me. I’ve learned them from working with my clients (young and old) as well as the many parents and professionals who attend the talks I give around the world. See if they resonate with you too.


1. We all share very similar desires. Regardless of our age, race, religion, sexuality, social ability, nation of origin, or nation where we currently live, we all want to share space and interact with people who care not only about us, but also those in our community. We want to belong; to be part of, and contribute to, something bigger than ourselves.


2. We have basically the same worries. We all worry about others who may not respect our background, our race or religion, our struggles, our needs, and our triumphs. While we collectively understand people in our community want to help us, we also worry our governments and the many systems that spin off from our governments may not understand our needs. We worry our voice gets lost in the crowd of voices around us. 


3. We all seem to wish the global world, fueled by the Internet and ever-changing technology would slow down so we can spend more time enjoying the moment. I admit – I’d be lost without my cell phone or my computer or the ease in which I can access information via the Internet. But there’s a trade-off. We deeply want to connect with others face-to-face more, to be present and mindful without being in such a hurry to go do something else or check email or our virtual connections.  


4. We all want to be included in our physical communities. Even when people look uncomfortable or anxious, they really do want to interact and connect with others. They may need some help… a kind word, someone taking a risk and being friendly to them first. Often these people are stuck in their tunnel of anxiety and struggle to look or act friendly to anyone. They do want to be friendly; they are just too anxious to show you that! Perhaps we can all be social risk takers this holiday season?


5. As we each explore our own social thinking we’re learning to better understand ourselves and how we each try to understand, or fail to understand, others. Social Thinking’s teachings are broader than helping people with social learning challenges develop new strategies. They help us all! Since the beginning of my work I have been amazed by the number of people around the world who have sought me out to tell me how much better they understand themselves and their personal relationships because of Social Thinking’s frameworks and strategies. Learning how to help my clients and their families has also helped me learn to help myself.


Your words, your emails, your questions, and your responses are constant food for thought for me. Thank you for giving me so many opportunities to keep learning with you, and from you. 


On behalf of myself and the entire team at Social Thinking, we wish you and your family and friends many positive and emotionally fulfilling moments this holiday season! When we each help someone else feel good, we renew the connection that unites us all.  


Happy holidays and a joyous New Year!


Michelle and the Social Thinking Team


Staff Image


Back Row (left to right): Spencer Charlton, Director of Finance; Nate Kretz, Director of Fulfillment; Heidi Winner, Director of Marketing; Vanessa Alcantar, Director of Clinical Training & Front Office Manager; Marina Kashlinsky, Processing Department, Manager of Inventory; Karen Nijjar, Accounts Receivable/Payable; Sarah Osteraas, Senior Coordinator of Special Projects; Marisa Smith, Social Media Strategist; Melissa Watkins, Marketing Project Coordinator; Michelle Hulshof, Marketing Associate; Quynh Nguyen, Staff Accountant; Kathy Knudson, Customer Service & Order Processing
Front Row (left to right): Lilah Aguada, Customer Service; Michelle Garcia Winner, Founder of Social Thinking; Ivana Pignatelli, Chief Digital Officer; Veronica Zysk, Senior Director of Product Development & Intellectual Property; Pamela Crooke, Chief Strategy Officer; David Yanez, eLearning and General Office Assistant
Not pictured: Jane Holland, Senior Director of Conference Logistics; Sarah Halicki, Senior Coordinator of Product Development; Nhi Nguyen, Staff Accountant; Elena Samsonova, Conference Coordinator & Logistics; Josefina Lopez, Administrative Assistant




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