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Bulletin Spring 2018

  • Text
  • Mswa
  • Bulletin
  • Ndis
  • Fatigue
  • Multiple
  • Outreach
  • Treendale
  • Peer
  • Sclerosis
  • Neurological

HOW CAN I BE MORE

HOW CAN I BE MORE ASSERTIVE? EVE PARSONS, MSWA COUNSELLOR Assertiveness can help us in many areas of our lives. To be assertive means that we feel confident in personal interactions, whether responding to demands, asking for what we want, dealing with criticism, or setting our boundaries. Lots of people find that they can be assertive in one context, eg. at work, but find it much harder with family members or friends or doctors, or vice versa. They need ways to transfer these skills! Sometimes people believe that to be assertive means being aggressive, but this is a misunderstanding. Aggression is a sure-fire way to alienate people and create a bad reputation for yourself, even if you ultimately get the outcome you were seeking. Bullies are aggressive; whereas courteous, empathic, clear and firm people are assertive. Why might we be nervous about dealing with others assertively? Some of our fears can be: - Fear of being seen as uncaring - Fear of being called a bully - Fear of anger or retaliation by the other person - Fear of being labelled and opportunities blocked eg promotion at work - Fear of coming across as selfish, all about you Interestingly, due to these fears, many of us adopt a passive or manipulative approach to getting what we want, or to avoiding what we don’t want. You know the kind of friend who says vaguely that she’ll get back to you about an arrangement, then doesn’t? Or perhaps a family member who persuades you to do something for him by mentioning a favour he did for you? Being on the other side of these behaviours is just as unpleasant as being bullied, and most of us would rather be given a straight answer, or to give a straight answer, such as ‘No, I can’t help you with that.’ Assertiveness can help us in situations with friends, family, carers, colleagues, health professionals, sports and fitness buddies, fellow volunteers, retail workers, and members of our faith community. For example, if you feel you are being taken advantage of, or treated badly by someone, an easy formula to remember is: ‘When you do …..X….. I feel …..Y…… so instead I’d prefer… …Z…..’ Nobody can argue with how you feel even if they didn’t intend to make you feel that way! You’re the expert on how you feel. Here’s an example: “When you ask me to help with chores at 6 pm, I feel guilty that my fatigue stops me from helping. So instead, please would you ask me to help in the morning when I have more energy?” Another one might be: “When you say you’re broke and ask if I can lend you 0, I feel pressured to help you out even though I don’t have enough money either. So please don’t ask me again.” Of course, when we firm up our boundaries and state clearly what we want, the other person might resist hearing us, and here’s where the broken record technique comes in (for those of you who remember needles getting stuck on turntables)! Here, we empathise with the other person’s feelings and wishes, without getting sucked into fulfilling their request. We maintain our polite but firm position and repeat if necessary. It goes something like this: “Yes, I know you’re down to your last , but I’m still not able to lend you anything.” “I realise that you are struggling, but I’m sorry (only if you are sorry – this bit is not compulsory) I can’t help you out.” “I can hear how stressed out you are, and I know it’s hard, and I still can’t spare any cash for you.” Play your broken record until the message gets through! 16 | MSWA BULLETIN SPRING 2018

Why is this so hard for lots of us to do? In general, because we want to be known as kind, helpful people and not be accused of being ‘selfish.’ Let’s acknowledge that in our broken record technique: “I realise that to you I seem selfish right now, and I’m still your friend, but I don’t want to lend you money for the reasons I’ve already said, and that’s why I’m saying no.” Remember that if someone accuses you of being selfish or uncaring, it’s usually because they haven’t managed to get you to do what they want, and you can choose to let those words bounce right off you. Think about a difficult scenario which tends to come up in your life – with your boss, your in-laws, your child, your partner, friend or helper, and consider whether you could deal with this person more assertively. Practising how you speak to them in a role play or even talking to yourself in a mirror, will help you to find a form of words you are comfortable with, and say them calmly without blushing or stammering. Counsellors can also guide you in learning to become more assertive, and the MSWA counselling team can be contacted on 9365 4888. There are also lots of good websites on the internet describing assertiveness techniques to learn. Go for it! THE PEER VOLUNTEER SARAH LORRIMAR, MSWA COORDINATOR OF HEALTH EDUCATION AND PEER SUPPORT MSWA Peer Support Volunteers are people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) who give their time to provide support to others living with MS. Peers provide a unique and invaluable support which comes from a lived experience. They understand what it is like to live with MS – receiving the diagnosis, the physical symptoms, the emotions and all the other things which MS can bring about. Peer volunteers are there to answer questions, share their experiences and help people link in with resources and services. The role of the peer volunteer is not to say what they think people should do, or to judge, instead it is to listen respectfully and privately. For a peer support relationship to be effective, there needs to be trust and an understanding that all conversations and the information shared in these remains confidential. The support provided by our peer volunteers can be seen in various forms, some attend groups and workshops to share their story whilst others provide support over the phone and via email. People can choose the way in which they provide and receive support, and it can be done anonymously. Our peer volunteers are provided with ongoing support from MSWA and before engaging with other Members, the peer volunteers meet with the Coordinator of Health Education and Peer Support to discuss the role, its responsibilities, and receive and sign a manual agreeing to adhere to the peer volunteer guidelines. The guidelines which surround confidentiality, boundaries and communication are developed to ensure everyone involved feels safe and supported, and to provide clarity about the purpose of the peer relationship. It is also a good way to provide support and skills to complement the experiences and understanding that our peer volunteers already have. Engaging in peer support, whether through a peer volunteer relationship or attending support groups can be hugely beneficial. With an opportunity to connect with others, people feel less isolated, they can gain a better understanding of their diagnosis, feel more at ease and make proactive changes to improve their health and wellbeing. If you would like more information about the peer volunteer role, please contact Sarah Lorrimar on 9365 4858 or Sarah.Lorrimar@mswa.org.au. MSWA BULLETIN SPRING 2018 | 17