Behavior in Context

Tonight, one of my professors said something really good: he said that we, as clinicians and social workers, must take into account people’s behavior in context. For example, if a child is running and screaming – is that appropriate behavior? If I didn’t tell you any other information, you wouldn’t really know how to judge that question. Is the child in a library? A church? Is this occurring during a church service? Or did they create a fun day?

Carrying this thought onto the work that I do is crucial. At one point does my client’s behavior become inappropriate and in which context, for the client, does it seem appropriate? By whose definition of “appropriate” am I going to judge the behavior? Even outside of my clients, I can use this for my relationships with people. In context, it was very understandable – though appropriate is another question – about why my dinner partner was in a crappy mood: he was late to work, had a lot to do, was given a new assignment on that day, was waiting for a response from a coworker, and it was mid-week when his stress level is probably pretty high. If I didn’t take his behavior into context, I could have demanded that he change his behavior to accommodate me and instead, I offered solutions such as declining or rescheduling dinner if modifying his behavior was not a viable option at the time.

If I apply this concept to myself, it will give me a better understanding of how my behavior is affected by the context in which it occurs. There is so much context in one’s behavior – the fact that I have chosen to do something is based on years and years of experience. Behavior is a learned trait – not necessarily innate. For example, I have acquired a lower-than-average self esteem based on years of criticism, years of watching children in media receive praise, years of receiving praise from others but my parents, the lack of “fitting” into the “physically attractive” category, being taught that there will always be someone better or that I can always do better, indicating that my “current” state is not enough, and so on and so forth. In context, in knowing all of this information about my history, I can see that I was not able to channel those experiences in a more positive direction and thus spawned the low-self esteem. I didn’t learn the tools in order to fight the crappy self-talk and only now am trying to acquire better cognitive reflexes to deter that thinking. It’s taking work, but I’m glad to be on this uphill path.

I’ve been trying to acknowledge at least one good thing I do each day. This acknowledgement must be my own – not after I’ve received feedback from someone else, but a thought that I came to by myself. Only then will I be satisfied in knowing that I didn’t allow for someone else to affirm me and that I was able to do it for me.

Jar of Affirmations
It’s so colorful!

What to publish, what not to publish

I’ve been thinking about this idea of a public blog for a while and considering that I’m doing this post to Facebook thing, it really gets me thinking about the content that I’m posting. What if I’m posting my thoughts on an issue in which other people are involved? What if my comments on said issue can affect someone, either how they feel about themselves or about me? Should I care? Should I be able to say what I freely want to say without fear of repercussions?  But if I’m discussing things that bother me, wouldn’t it be better for me to discuss it with the people involved?

But ultimately, I’m guess I’m deciding that this is my space and by posting this onto FB, I’m allowing people to visit me in my space and how they choose to comment or discuss with me is their choice and I will respect them of their choice. Should I discuss an issue I have with other people, then that should be on me to decide on whether or not I should discuss it with them and if we should work it out, or as the boyfriend says, “if it bugs me enough, I’ll tell you.” While I hate that comment, I can understand the desire to avoid confrontation, especially if it’s not on a particularly large or pressing issue.

Continue reading What to publish, what not to publish

Everybody Starts Somewhere

Today one of my supervisors said that to me while I was doubting my abilities to provide the best client care for a monolingual Vietnamese client. And in that moment, I truly understood that this negative self talk, this instant reaction to minimize my accomplishments really, really needs to go and in order to do that, I have to remember that superstars weren’t always superstars – they were me. And one day, I will be my own superstar.

It won’t be easy – the cessation of my self-deprecating views, but it’s a start. I was thinking about the different ways through which I can measure my growth and while I may still need to figure out what that will look like, I realized that it’s like growing taller. Most days, you won’t notice it, but when you start to make marks, use a baseline from the last change, that’s when you will realize that you’ve grown. So in this time for me, I can to figure out what I can use to measure my own growth. Will it be in the form of a blog? Will there be an assessment tool? Or simply just the memory that once upon a time, I didn’t know the answer to one plus one.