Once again, it’s confession time: I don’t like Enya. I haven’t used incense since high school. I don’t know what chakras are, and I’m OK with that. I don’t really even believe that people are sincerely good at heart.
I am a bit cynical and sarcastic. I’ll give you all a moment to let that news sink in.
Sometimes, it makes me feel a little out of place in this profession.
Dr. Horrible’s social work school, I got tired of learning how closed minded I was. Well-meaning suggestions that I introduce my elderly clients to the healing power of crystals or repetitive chanting just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t mean to laugh at people, I genuinely thought we were joking.
I started to feel like the Grinch Who Stole New Age.
I’ve worked on improving, really I have. I’ve opened up the old mind a bit. Meditating isn’t for me, but that, combined with breathing exercises, has helped a lot of my anxious clients with the scary life stuff they can’t control. I’m willing to incorporate that with some of what I’ve been told are more traditional, “Western” methods. (Apparently, “Western” in this case does not mean that lassoes will be used. Boo.)
I’m even co-leading a teen girls’ self-esteem group that combines movement with shouted affirmations.
Does anyone need another minute? OK.
Once a week, a group work intern and I lead a group of 13-17 year old young women in stretching, punching the air, jumping invisible ropes, and other moves designed for the sole purpose of making me look ridiculous. All the while shouting along that we are strong, beautiful, and “no” is our power.
Followed by snacks and discussion time. (Both of which bring me right back into my comfort zone.)
I was rather skeptical at first. I did not become less skeptical when my co-leading intern brought out electric mini-candles and a silk scarf, to place in the center of our circle to “calm the environment.”
But you know what? The girls love it. And this jerk over here is having a great time.
Meditation, breathing, and scented candles help some workers to cope with the stressful, upsetting situations we deal with. I cope through
obnoxious sarcasm humor. I’m willing to make a deal with the tantric (I don’t know what that word means) social workers out there.
Accept my methods, and I’ll accept yours. Turn on those electric tea lights, pretzel your legs, and imagine a glowing ball of warm energy illuminating your face.
But when I am venting after my fourth unsuccessful home visit attempt that week, saying, “The woman has two babies and no money, where the hell is she going, to a day spa?” the correct response is just to let it go. Not to say, “Wow, she must really be experiencing a lot of isolation. Maybe she’s identified some new supports.”
We can coexist. I firmly believe this.
Provided we all learn to relax, remain aware of one another’s auras, and practice laughing at ourselves.