Busy. Busy. More busy. I'm not the only one. So here's what happened when I slowed down a few times over the past couple of months:
1) I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of homemade pizza dough (with an assist from my bread machine purchased for a mere $2.50 at a thrift shop this spring) between my fingers. It smelled delicious and tasted even better covered with feta, parm, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and a mix of spices.
2) I found myself grinning for 2 straight minutes as I sat on a bench in Millennium Park watching a mix-matched group of cheerleaders with silver pom poms, black skirts, and pop music. These were not your Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. There were men and women and they were fabulous.
3) Enjoyed an afternoon at the spa. Not a fancy $200/hour one but a down to earth, women owned, women attended, relaxation environment. I actually got to appreciate muscles I hadn't felt in months as they loosened and screamed out in agony: "I exist!".
So how do we, as mediators, encourage self-care in our clients when we're not always so good at it ourselves? If your clients are anything like mine, particularly when it comes to divorce or other family related conflicts, they're in desperate need of self-care. I use the word "self-care" to make it clear that I am in no way implying that we as mediators need to provide this for our clients. Yet we do have a responsibility to check in with them and to offer resources and ideas as to how they can take care of their needs during such a stressful time.
In my experience, one of the most important things is to remind clients that their needs do matter. You may think I'm crazy in even stating this since clients are so good at expressing what they want from the other party. That's not what I'm talking about. I mean that it's important to take some time and help clients slow down enough to consider how well they are sleeping, how often their heart is racing, what makes their blood boil over, etc. Spending some individual time with clients in helping them figure out their needs, and how they may access getting them filled, can go a long way in assisting them in resolving their conflict with the other party.
So that brings me back to my initial consideration. How well do we understand and satisfy (or even just scratch the surface of) our own "self-care" needs? In other words, what did you do on your summer vacation?
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