In my day job I train employees that work with some of the most challenging behaviors one can imagine. It’s a common daily occurrence for these employees to be cursed at, called names, spit on, and even hit or kicked yet they have to stay positive in their work. Retaliation is not an option. They have mastered the “let bygones be bygones” approach to experiences that would put the average person into a fit of rage. How do they do it? Perception. They understand that the people we serve are exhibiting these behaviors as a result of cognitive and psychological challenges; that the residents are indeed people too and they deserve to be treated with respect even when they are themselves not respectful. The employees understand that it comes along with the job and the choice to work in direct care at a mental health facility brings such risks. It’s a touch pill to swallow but everyday over 1000 people at my job chose to take it. I commend them.
In my training I spend some time teaching about the concept of Rational Detachment, our ability to stay calm and in control even in a moment of crisis. A lot of what I teach in this class is the same as what I blog about, in fact I often reference things that I have blogged about in the class and vice versa. One thing in particular I want to mention is QTIP (Quit Taking It Personally); this is obviously important for the staff I train and is equally important for everyday life, especially in today’s world.
One of my biggest pet peeves of American culture is our self-centered train of thought; the idea that everything and everyone should be tailored to our own group of people, our desires, and our needs. The American culture promotes the misconception that it is possible to find a solution that caters to everyone and that when such as solution is not possible the chosen result should be what is best for me even at the expense of others. Understanding this I apply the QTIP method when necessary to help control my actions. For example, racial disparities are always a hot topic and are particularly hot right now surrounding the #BlackLivesMatter movement. When I read or hear hateful comments and remarks I QTIP and remind myself that the opinion of one person, or even a group of people, does not represent an entire race. It takes a high level of maturity, compassion, and empathy to follow the QTIP method and I myself struggle to apply it to every offensive situation. However, having this approach in my repertoire of responses to negative experiences allows me to practice it and to use it more skillfully.
I challenge you to apply QTIP the next time you are offended to see how much your perception of the experience shifts towards the better.
Think your way out of offense.