This week, we have stepped back some to reflect on negative group dynamics and how the energy and attitude of a single person can impact the energies and attitudes of an entire group. This is true at Ironwood, just as it is true in neighborhoods, places of employment and even in family systems. Why is it that we humans allow and even tolerate others to negatively impact and influence the directions of our days?
Our current resident population is made up of approximately 40 boys and girls who have amazing qualities…these kids are bright, energetic, interesting (ABSOLUTELY) and filled with limitless potential. With this said, many become stuck and easily distracted by a single event, or comment, or experience that can derail progress and even cause regression. There are so many times when in the reflection of negative events, we are able to point out an overreaction, or miscommunication, or even an interpretation that is completely false.
We hosted a 2018 graduate mentor this week and let me start by saying how wonderful it was for those of us who work here to catch up with this amazing young lady. We joked together about how things weren’t so light hearted “back in the old days of 2017/18” and she shared the stories of her current life, her new school, the family move to the Midwest and how she appreciates all that she learned while at Ironwood.
How could that be and can you ever imagine hearing that from your own Ironwood family member, especially based upon the letters that you have received during the early months of residency down at our Frye campus? I guess it’s safe to say that Ironwood miracles can and do happen, from time to time!
When I asked this mentor for feedback on what she was seeing, her response was mostly positive and she was quick to also point out that the girl’s groups were struggling over many issues that were petty and ridiculous. “This is what needs to be addressed asap and I hope to influence positive change before I leave on Friday”.
As we carried this information in to some one on one resident conversations, there was productive discussions around the causes of relational conflict and how it is often building from within, when you think and feel that it is coming from those around you. We also tried to transfer the idea that it is often your EGO that is involved during these negative chapters and when you can identify EGO, you can almost always affirm that your current direction is not aligned with your true (or truer) purpose. More specifically, when you are being true to yourself, you are not so easily offended and consumed by negative emotions and peer conflict. There is a sort of teenaged trap in this relational puzzle, when social acceptance is often valued above any other resource. How do we work together to identify these sources of negativity and how do we encourage and mentor the development of your family member’s life, toward a place of deeper meaning and purpose?
From now through August, ten Ironwood residents will be graduating their programs and heading home. This is easily the best part of our work, as we see families reunite with openness, greater compassion and hope for the future. As shared with a new male resident on Wednesday, while this personal chapter may seem like an eternity today, you will find when we’re all at your graduation, that the time passed quickly and you may actually end up missing us. Our mentor of this week was initially an Ironwood hater and now she is happy to return as a visitor…ultimately because she is happy inside herself.
All of us at Ironwood want to wish you a nice weekend…hang in there and stay cool!