First off, I want to say that while the title of this blog may bring back memories of the picture of Jay-Z wearing a shirt with these words emblazoned on his chest. This actually something of a sequel to one of my previous posts, Stepping Away. Well, maybe. When I’m wearing my therapist hat I’m always working for the benefit of my client. I am incredibly conscious of my own ideas and biases and i have to mentally put them to the side so that I can be in the moment. There have been hundreds of times where I did not agree with my client’s actions. He or she may have done something that I would have never even dreamed about doing, but it happened. Many times my clients have negative consequences as a result of their actions and they must then pick up the pieces and live with the decision that they made. One thing I said a few posts ago is that sometimes you can only know that you’ve done good work by walking away from it and discovering if it will stand on its own. Recently I had the chance to witness the results of my work and it was a good feeling to see years of work finally coming together after a long period of doubting if the results would ever be what I wanted. While I can say that the results were not everything that I was hoping and dreaming for, they were perfect in their own context. There’s a certain freedom that comes from letting people make their own choices and empower themselves. While you may offer suggestions as to how do to it, the final decision is theirs. You don’t take responsibility for their actions and you don’t judge or criticize their choices. One thing that I’ve learned as a therapist is that you have to respect the choices of others. While one can manipulate and strategize all day, there is nothing like a definite decision your client makes that you know will help them to have a better quality of life. The flip side is that you have to also allow them to make those stupid decisions without chiming in and telling them what you would do if you were in their shoes. You respect their right to self-determination and are supportive instead of just telling them what they need to do. And that’s a good thing.
As I was minding my business today I thought about this song. While it’s a couple of years old, it’s still one of my favorite songs. I can’t even really say that I’m a huge Keyshia Cole fan but I can appreciate the depth of the emotion in this song. The song speaks about wanting to get back to the way things used to be before emotions got involved. Keyshia sings about giving 110% and even loving the other person more than herself saying that she would have done anything for them. Yet, it’s such a reminder that the affection and attention from one person does not make up a true relationship. There has to be some sort of reciprocity. Keyshia sings about this as she says that she just wants to get her heart back. After giving so much and loving so deeply, the realization that you aren’t loved in that same manner can be extremely sad. The song is definitely evidence of that and even the instrumental part alludes to a haunting memory that builds on the initial four notes you hear in the first bar. Interesting how Keyshia sings about getting her heart back, implying that it’s in the position of another. However, Keyshia never sings about taking the action to get her heart back, she just says that she has to do it. Another things that stands out to me about the lyrics of the song is that Keyshia spends the entire time talking about how she wants to get back to the way that it used to be instead of expressing her desire to move on into her future. She wants to go back in the past before she even met the person. Thus saying that she really wishes that she never had the experience of loving that hard and getting nothing in return.
In the past few months I’ve witnessed or rather observed from a distance the demise of several marriages. While some of the marriages have been second marriages, there have been a few that have been in the category of what I like to call starter marriages. It’s the same concept as buying a starter house or even starter car. The only thing that you take from it is experience and it is a stepping stone to the object that you actually want. Starter marriages have been around for quite a while. I’ve met couples who have been together for decades but started out with a starter marriage where they had a different partner before they met “the one.” Starter marriages tend to happen when individuals are younger in age. Impulsivity, immaturity, and being “lovestruck” tend to play a big part in their formation. Both people have made the decision that they want to get married without truly counting the cost. They want the feeling of extra security while refusing to let go the single mindset and truly becoming a “we.” These couples are the ones you see arguing about the stupid petty stuff on a daily–even hourly basis because they never took the time to get to know the other person before marriage. Now that they are together, they see a lot of things differently and begin to get irritated quickly and even second guess their decision to marry. Both people refuse to compromise and as a result, they quickly learn that the only way to avoid arguments is to not talk, avoid each other, or bury themselves in other pursuits. This does NOTHING for the overall quality of the relationship. It’s at this point that most couples realize that they really don’t work as a couple. The newness has worn off. They are changing as people and their spouse is as well but they’ve never connected on that level so it starts to feel as if they are living with a stranger. Both people realize that their long term personal goals aren’t compatible and that they both want different things out of life. All this usually occurs within the first 1-3 years of marriage and hopefully before the couple decides to have any kids. The absence of kids allows both partner to separate without having to ever see each other again. They may even go as far as to have a divorce party to celebrate the ending of the worse decision of their life to date. Both people go on to live their lives and marry again with more experience and wisdom the second time around. Hopefully.
I ran into this article a few days ago and found it quite intriguing. I remembering people asking my mother questions about socialization and what we were missing in out in “real” school. While my social skills may not be the best known to man, I know plenty of kids who went to more traditional school and still exhibit a lack of social skills. Homeschooling gave me the freedom to do what I wanted (within reason). In a world where people are being taught the same thing, it’s nice to have the chance to think outside of the box. The thing about homeschooling is that it’s something that a lot of people do not understand. There is a societal expectation that children should be institutionalized between the hours of 8am to 3pm in order to learn the things they need to be able to succeed in life. The thought behind homeschooling is that learning can happen outside of those hours and that every kid is different and therefore they need more of a tailored educational plan. I was probably one of the annoying homeschoolers mentioned in the article growing up. I was a bookworm and somewhat of a know it all. Now, I will admit that homeschooled kids tend to stand out when compared to other kids. I’ve noticed it myself many times. However there’s something to be said about having an experience that many people have never had. Plus, I think that many times it is the un-homeschooled people who find homeschoolers annoying. But that’s just my opinion.
So I just had the chance to watch the first episode of this new series on ABC. I will say that the name of the show was somewhat disturbing to me but after watching an episode, I better understood the rationale behind it. I’m not a super big TV watcher but this one intrigued me. Without giving away any super huge spoilers I wil say that this show addresses many of the challenges that comes along with being black in a very professional, corporate, and majority European American environment. Many times in these situations, you end up being a scapegoat for the entire race. I’ve been in situations where I was asked for the black perspective. Honestly, to this day I have no idea what exactly that is. This show is a depiction of the challenges of being black but not fitting into the neat little box of stereotypes that people envision you to be. The challenges of going against the status quo while not leaving your people behind. Playing the line between being relatable and competent while not losing your credibility with those who look like you is really hard. That’s one of the reasons why I really like the honesty in this show so far. There’s not an exact science to it and you can’t please everyone.
The quality of self-control is often disregarded nowadays. People offer numerous excuses for their actions and blame the circumstances on choices that they themselves have made. “I couldn’t help myself” or “I just could not say no” are two of the excuses and the reasons why many people miss out on opportunities for success. Self control and discipline can be similar but they are very different. You can exercise self-control without being a disciplined person. One example of this is the choice to not assault someone who says something rude to you even though in your head you imagine your fist connecting with their face. We all know people who have been sucked into the drama of their friends. This can manifest in many different ways and many times a plan of action is required in order to entangle oneself from the messy web. For some, that person is their weakness or their drug. They can have their whole lives together but that one chink in their armor sets them up for pain because they just can’t say no. They can’t ignore the phone call, text, or facebook message. The interesting thing is that the person did not always have the amount of power over them. At some point you gave them the ability to suck you in. Many times this happens in romantic relationships that have gone bad but emotions are still heavily involved. Sometimes it becomes necessary to put yourself on a no-contact order with this person. This order is self-mandated as opposed to the legal ramifications of a restraining order. It requires a firm choice and enough self control to follow through even on days that are rough. You are making the choice to go “cold turkey” in order to break some relational bonds that are no longer benefitting you in any way. This means that you might experience some sort of emotional withdrawals because you’re breaking a habit that has become almost second nature. You have to be honest with yourself and also realistic in making this a life decision and not a “for right now” choice. The thing about a self-imposed no contact order is that it doesn’t work unless you actually stick to it. You can’t afford to have a weak day and sometimes this even requires an accountability partner of sorts because you have to break the habit. A few years back I had a friend who I talked to every night for a MINIMUM of two hours that sometimes went to 7 hours. This nightly practice continued for about 5 or 6 months. When the friendship suddenly disintegrated one day, it took me almost 7 months to get back on a regular sleep schedule because this person had occupied such a prominent place in my life and suddenly they didn’t. No contact orders also work when you need to take a break and evaluate a friendship or relationship. You aren’t required to explain to the other person that you won’t be taking their calls, responding to texts, or talking to them for a certain period of time. You can let your actions speak for you. How the other person handles you taking time away from them will be very telling of their maturity level and the true nature of the relationship. No contact orders can also be good when you start to question your investment of time and energy in a relationship that does not appear to be reciprocated. When you’re always the one making the effort and giving, a no contact order can give you some clarity on your expectations and what needs to change in order for the relationship to be successful.
I ran across this classic while browsing youtube the other day. I love the flashy outfits and the tight harmony that set Jackson 5 apart as a group in their day. One thing that is obvious is the amount of work that they put in in order to make those dance moves flawless. The tune is catchy and head-bobbable. Plus, it’s a great song.
The training to become a social worker is arduous, demanding, and complex. What isn’t always stressed enough are the issues of burnout, compassion fatigue, and the need for self care in the profession of social work.
I saw this article and thought about how applicable it is to my life right now. As someone who works in the field, this has to be one of the best articles I’ve read on the reality of burnout for social workers that is typically ignored. My absolute favorite quote from the author: “In our work, although we are surrounded by people all day long, there is not a balanced give and take. Concentration is on clients, not ourselves. In the truest sense, we are alone—we are the givers, and our fulfillment comes from seeing the growth, hope, and new direction in those with whom we are privileged to work.” I don’t think that truer words have ever been spoken. I’m a huge proponent of self-care but admittedly have a hard time taking my own advice. It’s easier said than done when you are by nature a giver and you put the best interests of others before yours and don’t impose your opinions on others deliberately on a daily basis. Any deviation from this can be self-perceived as selfishness. However, the article brings home the fact that self-care is necessary because it helps you to operate from a place of being okay. Still have a lot to learn in that department.
It’s not every day that I have the chance to do anything resembling leisure reading. However, I recently took an opportunity to do so and read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I heard good things about the movie but I wanted to make it a point to read the book before seeing the movie. First off, if you aren’t comfortable with an open discussion about death and dying, this book may not be your favorite. Without giving a lot away, the book follows two young adolescents as they come of age with the additional challenge of battling terminal illnesses. It explores their thoughts and experiences as they both read a book and travel to meet the author. The book was definitely more emotional than I expected but this was because I wasn’t really familiar with it. It’s a book that will have you thinking about life and also evaluating your close relationships. Green makes the characters extremely relatable and you can feel the emotion through the pages. I had to read the book with a box of tissues handy because I pretty much cried through the last half. However eliciting emotion from the reader is one of the marks of a good author in my opinion and Green certainly accomplishes that. The book is well written and clear. It speaks to the fact that maturity isn’t always age related–sometimes it occurs by experiences. The Fault in Our Stars was a really good book that challenges readers to enjoy and make the most of the hands they are dealt. To live their life with no regrets and treasure those who love and support them. I think that’s a great message.
One thing I’ve taken the time to be deliberate in savoring small moments. Like many people, it’s easy for me to get caught up in plans for the future and literally live months and even years in advance because I’m planning that far ahead. I have plan A’s, plan B’s, plan C’s, plan D’s and even plan E’s. My mind is constantly going analyzing and assessing my current situation and strategizing about my next move and what work is needed in order to make it a successful venture. However, I’ve had people remind me that it’s important to stop and smell the roses. I’ve had the chance to take some time and appreciate the small victories and happy moments in life that are often overlooked through all the crap that comes along with living in a bad world. Recently I had an experience that I’ve waited about two years for. The great thing was that I can honestly say that I took the time to just “be” in that moment. It was one of those things that I knew I might never happen again so I took the opportunity to savor it. While I’m somewhat of a patient person, the fact that I waited two years for it made it worth it. I appreciated it more and also understood that the moment was fleeting. Therefore, I just decided to enjoy it without allowing my mind to be distracted by the underlying meanings and motives and repercussions of the moment. In order for this to happen I had to make a deliberate and conscious decision to live in the moment for at least a moment and just “be” without a million and one thoughts coming in a spoiling the special-ness of the moment. Was it worth shutting out distractions and thoughts to enjoy the moment? Absolutely.