Thursday, June 30, 2011

Anti Bullying Status Response

I came across Facebook's anti bullying status a few times. Goes along the lines of: "People look down at a girl who has a baby at age 14 not realizing she was raped. People hassle a person who's overweight not knowing his obesity is due to illness."

In other words, don't judge and perhaps more importantly, don't assume. Two values I appreciate though admittedly the judging part, well, I'm working on that in my personal life. Professionally I do a pretty good job of keeping myself in check (and have coworkers who volunteer to do that).

On the other hand, something about this status doesn't quite work. Perhaps it's because a short message may sometimes be misunderstood. Or maybe due to my social work mindset I think, what about...

Let's say there's a 14 year old girl who's pregnant because she had sex with multiple partners without protection. She was trying to get pregnant. Or a person is obese because he eats a lot. Let's say he enjoys it too. Are these folks less deserving of kindness or understanding?

I do get the status' deeper meaning: Don't judge. Presume that people's situation is not as simple as it seems. Yet it also implies that one behavior is more rewarding of compassion than another. Granted we do that all the time -- we make judgments based on context. But it seems to defeat the purpose of this message which is to act compassionately.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Apprehension that Things May Get Better

It took me some time to appreciate... An unlikely challenge to achieving a goal: It's scary to think things may get better (more so when it involves making a new healthy or otherwise positive choice). It's scary to step outside a pattern, even if that pattern causes chaos or anxiety. Going through a similar cycle brings a sense of comfort. It may be painful but it's familiar. The idea that things may get better may actually cause anxiety.

I've observed this in clients and others as well as in myself. Apprehension about things improving adds another layer of struggle when trying to work towards a goal. It is funny because it sounds so illogical.Why wouldn't you want something to get better? Yet we are creatures of patterns and years of habit, even the way in which we grew up may set the stage to certain types of behavior. These may be changed but it's not unusual for this to be a process.

I plan to write more about goal setting in a future post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sometimes I'm Not Sure How to Respond

Sometimes clients make side statements that are difficult to respond to. "Oh, things aren't that bad." No, I'm not going to offer that reply. "I'm sure it'll get better." A platitude helpful with its empty meaning.

What's an example of a difficult side statement? A meaningful comment made, either as an afterthought or matter of fact, like "Don't grow old, Anatolia." A few clients have told me this in a context of illness or challenge that growing older brings. Sometimes these comments are meant in humor but not always. Sure, it may be a comment that could be delved into during a future session but sometimes it is just a passing comment. A client may not want a response too. Yet I have this instinct to want to be reassuring in some way.

I envy case managers who just know what to say and whose responses are genuine. Certainly a skill.