" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

October 15, 2010

Try listening to your own good advice

 Every once in a while because of the part-time job that I do at the CARE Employment Centre on island, I get confirmation that what my co-worker, Suzanne and I, do makes a difference in tangible ways. Not for everybody but for enough people.

Today, someone returned to the island after being away at a job all summer where he flew a helicopter in the Yukon and undoubtedly made really decent cash. More importantly, I think it gave him back some self esteem that had seeped away over the years as a result of the immense challenges of trying to make a living here that we see and hear about every day. It takes a toll on people.

He brought my co-worker and I a box of the best chocolates ever, handmade locally here at Harlan's Chocolates, and he thanked us for helping him. We were just doing our jobs. I encouraged him when he was feeling nervous about returning to an industry that he didn't really want to return to.  I was worried when he left that it might not work out. Or worse yet, that he might have an accident and die! I really did have this visceral fear for a few days after he left that he might not be safe if he hadn't flown for a couple of years.It's not as if we'd met him just once, we got to know him a little bit over the year or more that he'd come in and out, like so many of our clients. We rarely see people just once here.

I really hoped the job and the people he'd work for and get to know there would be really good for him. And, yesterday, I got confirmation that it was the right choice for him. Yay!  He even liked it. He's even going to go back in a bit after a break.

That was SO nice. It's not that I need to hear it. It's my job. But, hey, hearing it made me feel really good. We do actually lend a lot more than "information" to a lot of people who walk through our doors. We listen - or we try to - and we lend our support - not to everyone - but there are varying degrees of need and varying degrees of an individual's ability to be open when they really need and there are our very different personal temperaments which mean we connect (or sometimes we don't) with everyone to varying degrees.

I couldn't help but think of the day he started reluctantly calling helicopter companies from our office and he really wasn't too convinced that it was what he should be doing and I just looked at him and said, "What's going to be different here, if you don't, six months from now, a year from now, and on and on?" 

I know that sounds harsh. So much for unconditional listening or motivational interviewing. I know those have a place and I have been the recipient of a lot of unconditional listening in the past via therapy and it has its place for sure, but you know, sometimes it's a huge relief to get a little bit of insight that comes with directions. A push perhaps. A confirmation that change is necessary and transformations are never a piece of cake.

In fact, just seeing him reminded me that maybe it's time I tried listening to my own good advice.

1 comment:

Ben Anderson said...


Anything that we do, caring for others, makes a big difference, perhaps not readily noticeable.

I have been working with special-needs children since Feb., all form of Autism, and ADD, ADHD, etc. Very difficult and demanding work, with little pay, but rewarding as well. All these people, children, need love and attention, just like all of us do.

Love & Light,