Alright my little people pleasers. This one is for you. Well and for me too. I am for sure a people pleaser. Discussions usually go like this:
“Hey, what do you feel like eating?”
“Uh, I don’t know what sounds good to you.”
“Yeah, but I asked you first.”
“No, but like, what sounds good to you? I’m fine with whatever.”
“Woman, seriously, just pick a restaurant.”
“Whatever you want is fine by me.”
I’m trying to be better, I promise. That being said, being a being a people pleaser doesn’t mean we’re pushovers; it just means we like when people are happy or pleased with us. Don’t psychoanalyze me, please. I do enough of that myself. It’s my Enneagram One and my Enneagram Two. I was destined to be a people pleaser with those two. Moving on.
Today, I was racing back to my speech room from the bathroom (#hydrated). On my way back, I met my next patient and their RBT in the hallway. She told the kiddo it was time to go to speech and this friend of mine shook their head and clearly said, “No.” I shrugged my shoulders, told kiddo it was too bad, and it was time for speech. Kid continued to refuse, I continued to not indulge it. It was a fun hallway game. Out pops someone’s head into the hallway, saying something along the lines of, “The kiddos just don’t like speech with Miss Dani, huh?”
Dagger to the people pleaser heart! Luckily, I cope with humor and I made some joke and we moved on. Then, because I was extra caffeinated and my sassy pants were on, I turned and said something along the lines of, “Better to be disliked for being a tough therapist and make progress than to be liked because I’m chill.”
Look, yes my job is fun and I get to hang out with kids but by no means does that mean we just kick back and chill out. I’m a former athlete and the two coaches I had who I respect most didn’t let me get away with a damn thing and it has only benefited me as life progressed outside of the speech room.
Full disclosure before I continue: I’m not a drill sergeant SLP, okay? I have my fun. I legitimately love my job. That being said, I know when I can push my kids and if I can push them, I’m going to. Disclosure over; moving on.
Following all of my sessions for the day, I had a quick meeting with my clinic manager about a particularly difficult kid I have. For multiple reasons, details will be spared regarding the specific case and I’ll simply share my reactions and inner dialogue about it. As an Enneagram One, one of my fears is not being good enough. I am a perfectionist in so many ways, except when it comes to my apartment. This place is just a shit show. I need to marry an interior designer or something. Anyways, if things aren’t going well with a patient of mine, I immediately place that burden on my shoulders. It must be me, is what the voice in my head says. (Funnily enough, when relationships end I think the same exact thing). So this patient’s family is tough. Carryover is minimal and progress isn’t being made for a multitude of reasons. On my drive home, I started asking myself if there was more I could do. How can I better serve this kid? What more research do I need to do? (Because I clearly don’t do enough research in this doctorate program, okay).
Then, I took out the emotions. Yes, I know. I’m a clinician and I should be thinking clinically, not emotionally. I become emotionally invested in my patients and it’s not a switch I’m willing to turn off for good because I think it helps me more than it hurts me. Sometimes I do need to switch it off and today, I needed to. So I took a step back and evaluated the situation, emotions removed. You know what? Not a thing more could be done on my end. The reasons this kiddo wasn’t making progress is not on me.
Here’s some heavy truth for you loving clinicians: At some point, the child’s progress is no longer your responsibility. In my setting I see a kiddo for a maximum of one hour a week for speech or one hour a week for feeding, sometimes less. That’s so little time! Yes, I try to maximize my time with them—as we all should be—but I’ll say it again: At some point, the child’s progress is no longer your responsibility.
More reality for you? Not every coworker will like you. Not every family will adhere to your recommendations. You can’t help them all and you can’t please them all. There are going to be tough conversations and there are going to be tough cases. Heck, there are tough people. There are going to be kiddos who drag their feet when they come to speech because maybe you can’t fully win them over and maybe you do work them a bit, but never can they say you weren’t in their corner.
This was meant to be a speech-related post and while it is, I guess it’s more of a rambling. I guess if I could end it anyway, I’d end it by saying this: Whatever your role may be—SLP, OT, teacher, nurse, doctor, cook, barista, mom, dad, grandma, sister—you care. It is okay to care. Don’t let caring turn into a million burdens being laid on your shoulders. They aren’t yours to carry. Don’t let the long days with what feels like very little progress feed that inner critic of yours. Let it drive you, but do not let it weigh you down.
In the end, you just can’t please them all. Especially all of the kids; those buggers are so hard to please, am I right?