Embracing patience as my best support tool
It’s odd to think of independence as something you need to find time for, something that isn’t practical, something that gets in the way. —R. Strzalkowski, Esq.
Last week I had my monthly People First meeting and I was found guilty of the sin of not being patient. Our group was organizing an event for the first time and I took charge more than I should have. I wasn’t my best as an advocate. I was pushy and let my anxiety get the best of me.
Strzalkowski has given me a timely reminder of something I continually struggle to do well as a support person: be patient and leave room for independence. It’s not about me.
It sounds arrogant to tell someone, ‘leave room for independence,’ and it is! Supports often require a certain surrender of privacy and independence. As a support person, I find it tricky to find the line between poss-abilities and the reverse.
Independence is what I aim to encourage, foster, grow, and support. It is my first and most important priority when supporting people with disabilities. Things do not get better if I ‘help’ or ‘do it because it’s faster.’ If I don’t make room for independence, I’m failing to respect the people I claim to advocate for.
I am not a patient woman. I’m a so-so listener, tend to interrupt people, and can be pushy. These are faults that I continually push myself to remedy. To be a present listener, relax, and leave room for others. I often feel as though I have training wheels on; a beginner when it comes to providing the kind of support I want to actualize.
I work hard to leave my anxiety behind me when people take on new projects with risks and struggles attached. I resist the temptation to smooth the way, take care of conflicts, and in general mop up if things get a little rocky.
I’m taking this opportunity to renew my commitment;
Respect people by allowing them to accomplish their goals in their own time and way.
No one gets it right the first time. Relax.
Celebrate mistakes. They’re the road map to skill building.
Right now, I want to see things through the lens of my firsts. The first time I organized a meeting, an event, or worked as a group with others. I think of the first time I was responsible for managing money that was not my own. I didn’t get everything right the first time, and I won’t going forward. My mentors, teachers, and advocates all allowed me the room I needed to grow. It’s time for me to do the same.
What do you struggle with in supports? How do you stay present and aware of priorities in the day-to-day? How do you stay true to your mission? Any advice for a gal who’s still got so much to learn?
P.s. I encourage you to read the article referenced at the top. It’s really good!
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