Giving & receiving feedback

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Thank you for the support and validation @Friday and @barefoot . It helps me put it in perspective.

I was liking the program prior to this exercise. It helps me focus on my strengths and goals. It might be hasty to quit based on this one exercise.

The man who started it is kind of like a pit bull for harm reduction. In the world of atheism versus religion there was a man called Richard Dawkins called “the atheist pit bull”. Stanton Peele is like that for harm reduction. He hammers on the leaders of the “addiction as disease” model and in interviews or debates he’s not afraid of o talk over other people. So he seems a little arrogant, but he’s definitely the small guy compared to the AA disease model folks. And his perspective seems so much more logical and less invasive.

I can see how scrupulous I’m being about this one exercise, trying to do it perfectly. And based on your responses I can see how that perfectionism is less than helpful.

I’ve written down all the steps, I’m keeping it in mind for if a genuine opportunity arises. I can return to it if I want to, but it might behoove me to see if there are more things in the program that might lift me up like I experienced prior to this exercise.
I did it! I was at the school where I work tutoring a high schooler with autism. We have an ongoing game of monopoly as we only meet once a week. There is also a summer program going on run by one of the parents. Our game was all upended and scattered even though we left a note next to it asking to please not touch.

I outwardly expressed to my student that I felt angry and sad. She is not as demonstrative of her feelings (and maybe more patient than me) as she said, “They didn’t know. They didn’t know we were playing because they’re little.” I conceded and we got to our first order of business which is reading Superfudge by Judy Blume.

If you haven’t read it it’s about a 10yo boy coping with his little brother who is constantly causing trouble. Judy Blume is amazing at writing the emotional lives of her characters through dialogue and inner thoughts, so I thought it would be a good fit for my student who struggles sometimes to interpret emotions, but is curious about the interactions of others. Last year we read Diary of a wimpy kid which is actually hilarious and originally written as an adult book, the writer said.

Anyway, in today’s chapter the little brother ruins the boy’s poster he was making for a school project and the boy is very angry and confronts his mother about it. And my student, referring to the little brother, said, “He didn’t know, just like the kids who messed up our Monopoly game.”

“You’re right!” I said, “And Peter was mad just like I was mad and a little sad. But you weren’t mad or sad?”

“Nope. They didn’t know.”

“Maybe you are more patient than me. But Peter told his mother and his mother punished fudge and promised Peter it wouldn’t happen again. Maybe I should talk to the person leading the summer camp and tell her how I felt about them messing up the game so she can tell them not to do it again. What do you think?”


So we finished our chapter and then discussed how it would go. I told her I felt bad saying I felt angry because I didn’t want to scare the parent or make her feel bad so I decided that I would say I felt sad.

This is interesting to me that I believed my feedback would be “mean” if I said I felt angry and that I believed that saying we were sad was more palatable. Also it is interesting to me that I switch those two emotions so easily in my head, and almost struggle to tell which is which. As I reflect now the truth is that I mostly felt angry not sad. And also upon reflection I would have been reporting that I *felt* angry, not that I feel angry currently, but somehow reporting that I feel/felt angry seemed more provocative to me.

Yet as I write this out I am imagining that next time I have an opportunity to give feedback about an event which caused anger I might try out saying I felt anger rather than sadness.

Something else I noticed is that in the past when I would give feedback for something like that I would never *say* the emotion that the event triggered, but rather attempt to display it. And this time when I gave feedback I didn’t have to display anything because I planned on saying the feeling.

The parent did apologize and said she would talk to the kids and that felt good. I tried hard to let her talk without being a codependent rescuer. But interestingly she blamed it on another adult, one of my co-teachers, who she said told her no one was playing it. I don’t need to go into details because it doesn’t matter but it’s good for me to recognize that deflection is one way to cope with shame when people feel responsible for having caused negative feelings.

I like that this feedback happened in real time, not fishing for something from the past. That made it feel prudent and clean.

So I learned that I’m biased to report sadness instead of anger in my feedback. I tend to mix those two emotions together. And when I tell how I feel I don’t need to show it with my body, and that seems less stressful I think.

Wow, didn’t expect to need to process it that much, but I probably won’t need to as much next time.
So I learned that I’m biased to report sadness instead of anger in my feedback. I tend to mix those two emotions together. And when I tell how I feel I don’t need to show it with my body, and that seems less stressful I think.
Well done, you!

Also? That you assume someone is lying / deflecting …and feeling shame… rather than taking them at their word that they were told by someone else that no one was playing with it, & how they say -or express- that they’re feeling. But? Do seem inclined to believe them about their plans for future actions (will talk to the kids).

Unless you have a history with this woman that informs your conclusions?
Ohhh, good point! Didn’t catch that one—that I was mind reading, rather than taking her at her word. I think I know why I did that. Because I like the person she blamed it on while she comes across as extremely enabling which reminds me of my old self.

Thank you for pointing that out. I think the mind reading added a layer of stress in that moment. And was my own coping mechanism to try to maintain control in that situation which I would typically avoid in order to maintain even more control!

Also, if I took her at her word then I would have been responsible to give feedback to the person that I really like, which not only did I not want to do because I like her but also because I wanted the feedback exercise to be over as soon as possible.

Which tells me that it behooves me to keep trying this exercise, particularly with people that I like. But I don’t have to tell you that my motivation to do so is rather low. At least I can now hold that awareness in my mind and can give it a try as an experiment if I want, remembering my goal of intimacy which seems so elusive yet desirable.
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