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Recently, I’ve been dealing with a situation at work that’s keeping me up at night. I had an incident that knocked me in the face with the reality of the line of work I’m in. Sometimes social workers find themselves in the center of scary situations over which they have no control. After the deescalation, you have to go back to work and figure out what happens next.

In coping with this incident, I am forcing myself to be open-minded, empathetic, and mature to the point of exhaustion. At first, I did not want to be open-minded, empathetic, or mature. I wanted to think only of my own personal reaction and cater to it. But that’s not the kind of social worker I want to be, nor is it the sort of person I want to be.  As I work with my supervisor towards resolution, she’s been giving me a lot of advice on how to proceed. In the process, however, she has pointed out some of my missed opportunities, contradictions, and moments of hesitation.  For the past two and half weeks, particularly yesterday, I trapped myself in what I could have done, second guessing my everyone action in the past six months and methodically whittling away my confidence.

This morning as I applied my mascara, I realized that I can create the opportunities I missed. I can take positive action where I was inactive before. When my supervisor and I met today, she openly pushed me to  clearly articulate what where my self-doubt is coming from and what I will do to rebuild it. For the first time in two and a half weeks, I let myself hear her positive feedback. Yes, I missed some opportunities. Yes, there were alternate approaches I could have taken. However, my supervisor emphasized how pleased she is with my ability to face this situation. Basically in the course of our meeting, she told me that I am outstanding at learning. I realize that might sound like a weird compliment, but it means a lot to me. As long as I can learn, I won’t get stuck.

I think it’s difficult to receive criticism, even when it’s constructive. While I reflect on why I was able to turn my negative thinking around and feel good about the direction I can take at work, I am once again thankful for judo and jiu jitsu. When I go to train, I absorb a near constant stream of feedback. Yes, I hear my share of, “Nice, Lori! That was great!” But I also hear a slew of “Pull more with the sleeve hand” and “Your angle’s not right” and “Your stance is too wide” and “You forgot to switch your grip” and “Turn your head more” and so on and so on. It could be spirit-crushing, but I decided a long time ago to just listen and keep trying. It’s not personal. It’s for my benefit. If someone is taking the time to help me get better, it means I can get better. The last person I am going to let hold me back is myself.

  1. Anna
    June 4, 2013 at 23:15

    This is awesome. Thanks for sharing these words, and holding onto this important perspective. I find it helpful for my own life, too. You are a rockstar. Thank you for being you in the world.

    • June 5, 2013 at 19:57

      Anna, it takes me a lot of work not to get caught up in hearing the negative and ignoring the positive. Well, actually, it’s taken a lot of work not to define criticism from someone I trust and respect as negative. It’s something different…I still have lots of moments where I’m down on myself, but it’s getting easier to see through those times.

      PS: I think you ARE awesome and I’m lucky to know you. I hope our paths cross over the summer! x0x00x0x0x0x!

  2. June 5, 2013 at 01:38

    last paragraph got me. I need to remember this in cycling. I feel like I am constantly being told how to do it better, that I need to do it differently…corner like this, pedal smoother…its hard sometimes. I get frustrated a lot. But I like what you said, “if someone is taking the time to help me get better, it means I can get better.” Word.

    • June 5, 2013 at 20:00

      Oh my gosh, Ali…it is SO hard. I definitely think that you can run into know-it-alls that are nitpicking for their own enjoyment, but when you are a part of a solid team, your more experienced teammates really do love watching you grow and succeed. I know for me, a high rank player does not waste their time sharing advice with deaf ears. They spend time with students who not only have potential, but have the drive use that potential. That means someone who actually wants to learn something.

      I still want to see you race someday…I think you’re such a bad ass! x0x0x0!

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