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Running head: Wisdom principles: You don’t know unless you go
You don’t know unless you go
[A very generous student]
California State University, Bakersfield
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You don’t know unless you go
Upon debating what to do after I finished my bachelor’s degree, I was torn between going
to work or attempting a master’s degree in either educational counseling or social work. On one hand, I wanted to do social work, and on the other was/am afraid that a master’s degree is beyond my reach. While I was agonizing over my choice, my spouse reminded me of a phrase we often use when we are trying to decide between taking a difficult four-wheel drive road for adventure or playing it safe and choosing a less arduous road. That saying is; “You don’t know unless you go.” So that is how I ended up where I am today. Often, when contemplating a difficult decision, I am reminded and motivated by this simple phrase, and it often serves me well. It may not be the most relevant “wisdom principal” to social work practice but it is one that
I often follow.
Over the course of the quarter I have garnered several more relevant bits of wisdom that have been useful in understanding social work practice. The first few weeks in my practicum were chaotic, to say the least, and as I look back on them, some of the entries in my “Practice
Wisdom Log” were and continue to be quite helpful.
Never take responsibility for things you cannot control. This particular line is something I
have never really taken to heart until recently, although I’m afraid I have been in more situations than I would like to recall where I was not in control. This is often difficult to swallow. I like to be in control; everything nice and neat. I imagine everyone does. But I have learned that you cannot take responsibility for those things that are out of your control, for example, some one else’s actions. You can only do the best you can with what you have and know at the time.
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Never argue. Well, I can’t say that I never argue, but I certainly have learned in my practicum
not to argue with the client. I seem to have figured out rather quickly that it does absolutely no good to argue. Arguing pushes your ideas on someone else and causes both parties to be perturbed, to say the least, because of not understanding or allowing the client their own self-determination. We have to recognize that there are circumstances that we may not be aware of that are pushing or pulling the client in one direction or the other. We have to recognize the client as the “expert” in their situation.
The more you learn the more you find you don’t know. This is absolutely true. It appears that
when you think you might have figured out how to go about something, the rules of the game either change, or your understanding has deepened and you need to start from the beginning. Learning is like the domino effect. Once you learn something it triggers the need to learn something else.
This principle underlies the relationship with the client as well. You should be aware so as not to make quick assessments of a client’s situation. There may be more to the client’s situation than you know, and it takes time and patience to get the whole picture.
Strengths based on the above principles:
Never take responsibility for things you cannot control. As mentioned earlier, I have had
many situations in my life that have left me helpless and without control. I think that I can use these feelings and knowledge to help me understand how a client feels in his or her situation. Never argue. By nature I do not argue. This is both strength and a weakness. As a strength, not arguing allows me to put negative feelings aside and enables me to be more objective; it allows me to weigh both sides of a situation.
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The more you learn, the more you find you don’t know. As a strength, this principle works to
my advantage in that I understand that I can’t know everything and that there is always more to learn about any given subject or situation.
Weakness based on principles:
Never take responsibility for things you cannot control. This is easier said then done. I see
my weakness in this area as the struggle to try and not control events. This can be frustrating, especially when I feel that I ought to be able to control a situation. The logical side of me knows I can’t control everything, but the emotional side still struggles with wanting to control, and these sides are often at odds with each other.
Never argue. Never arguing can be a weakness, and it often is for me. I can see where not arguing with a client is beneficial, but not arguing in your personal life can be a problem. Since I am not one to argue, I often find I hold feelings in and settle for things when I really don’t want to. I like to please everyone, and I know I can’t always do this. It has caused problems in my life.
In going to therapy, I learned some tools to help me with this, but I still struggle with finding balance.
The more you learn the more you find you don’t know. This principle sometimes comes back
to bite me. Sometimes you just have to accept and work with what you know. Yes, there may be more to learn. There always is, but you can’t remain immobile or not take action because you need to learn more. Sometimes you just have to go out and try things and learn as you go. I sometimes lack confidence in myself to recognize that I can’t know everything. I have to trust that what I do know will get me through. I think I’m beginning to realize this in my practicum.
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There are many more “words of wisdom” that I have been able to draw upon, however
the ones above seem the most relevant to me. I have certainly been able to identify with these principles in my practicum.
It would seem that I had a rather rough start with my internship and not taking responsibility over things you have no control over certainly hit me like a load of bricks in my first few weeks. I quickly learned that I cannot do this. Every day I meet and talk with someone new, I am amazed at how unique everyone and everyone’s situation is. I guess I never would have found this out if I had not of followed the old saying, “you don’t know unless you go.”