At the age of 38 or so, I began some introspection that ended up changing my life and me in dramatic ways. Part of that change in me resulted from an understanding of several big flaws in myself I needed to change: first, I was too much of a people pleaser and that slowly eroded my ability to stand up for myself despite the fact that I knew better. Second, in part due to #1, I was leading a double life. As an attorney, I took no BS which went from the “good kind” of taking no BS to take unreasonable positions. Yet, when I turned that attorney persona off, I was a rag who feared upsetting anyone. And third, I was always a good catholic girl but I realized I had no real understanding of the catholic faith which led me down paths that were severely disordered because I was trying to define Christ my way.
For years I have been working on myself and continue to do so. Part of that “work” transformed into a deeper understanding of conflict resolution. I knew I had a taste for it because my best work as an attorney was via negotiation and, as a sole practitioner, my client relationships were very good because I worked hard at these relationships not only because these people were my source of referrals but also because the more I understood my clients, the better I could meet their needs and finally because I learned so much about myself and others through these relationships.
So, as I delved more into mediative work, all this suffering I went through from age 38 on, the dismantling of my law practice, of myself, of my marriage (which is better than ever today), my kids (who I put at great risk in my “sick” state), paid off because I bring all of it to the table with me in my work as a family mediator. All this affects the style of mediation I use, the type of mediator I am, and the kind of encounters I have with each person involved in a mediation with me.
Tammy Lenski, you wrote a great book in “Making Mediation My Day Job” and I continue to recommend it to so many mediators I meet. This post is also wonderful and so important for mediators to read and contemplate. Thank you for being out there. You are a great resource to all of us.