10 October 2013

Therapy Goals: Things to do Before I'm Thirty

On my list of 30 Before 30, I wanted to set measurable goals in therapy. This has been an awesome goal to have in mind when I talk to my therapist because it makes me go in with a purpose.

Our latest thing is building a communication model that will get more of my needs met, so that I can stop feeling so shitty because my needs are not being met. This might make little sense out of context, so here's an example:

Our neighbors smoke on their balcony porch (observation without evaluation). When they do this, I feel aggravated and tense because I have a need for the air in my personal space to be free of allergens (I have asthma). An actionable request would be to ask them to smoke on the front porch.

Insert Empathy Here

One way to ask this is, "Hey, I can understand why you guys would like to smoke on your balcony—I love to hang out here, too. I hate to be a pain, but I have asthma, and the smoke aggravates my asthma. Do you think that you could smoke on the front porch, instead?"

My communication model has never gotten me what I wanted because in my mind I always start aggressive, maintain aggression, and finish aggressive. In reality, I am passive. Passive and pissed off, all. The. Time.

See, technically, the lease doesn't allow smoking on our balconies. But if I walk over with all my pedantry, I look like an asshole, and of course they can smoke on their porch (I "can't"? Watch me!). Does the landlord like the person who phones him about the smokers on the second floor? No! He hates that person! Will he do anything about it? Probably send a letter. Which they will burn. On their balcony. And round and round we go.

This is not a communication model that works for me, even though it is the one I fall back on time and time again. This is not a communication model that I would like to pass on to my children.

Did the new model work in our real life example? Sure, it did (our neighbors were nice about it, too). We'll see what happens in the future, but in the meantime the need was met, and that's more important than being "right."

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