What's Your Bottom Line?
Define the problem: Become clear about the problem and your goals will be easier to achieve. Know the law regarding your issues.
Write out the possible options to achieve your goal: Select one or two issues that you would like to work on. Write each down as a clear statement, and follow through with your options and an evaluation of options, or how you would like to see them resolved. Make a list of the possible solutions to your problem.
Evaluate the Options: by writing out the Pros and Cons for each option, and select the option you feel most comfortable with. Please see: The Core Teaching for more information about how to do each step.
Develop an Action Plan: We already have a good idea of what the problem is, and what we would like to accomplish. How can we accomplish it? Write a list of actions we can take. Break each task down into manageable steps. This may include documenting your case by keeping a log, or making sure you have a backup plan (in case you need to change your strategy to get what you want).
Document all of your efforts. Add all your phone calls, emails, and other efforts to communicate to your log.
We may need to learn to deal with people who are controlling the situation. This may include parents, lawyers, or agents involved in managing our lives. We may need to meet with them, and/or make phone calls, and write letters to be clear and concise about our needs, and be prepared to share the ideas we've already written down to resolve the problem. You can see an example of how this is done in the column to the right, or use our problem solving training to get started: Problem Solving Training
And finally, evaluate your work: Review what you did, how you did it, and determine if you've accomplished what you set out to do. What further steps do you need to take to be successful in getting want you want? If the solution you originally selected did not work out, what about the other options? Please see: Evaluation Form
Don't give up! Even if many attempts to reach your goals hasn't worked out, keep trying. We may have to revise our plan and try other strategies, such as anger management so we don't loose our temper and alienate our allies, but remember! Keep working on your goals until you've resolved your problem to your satisfaction! If you stop before you do, you will not be content, or resolved, and that is our goal. You'll know you've accomplished your goal when you've achieved piece of mind.
Black Elk's Prayer for All Life
"Hear me, four quarters of the world - a relative am I! Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is! Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you.
Only with your power can I face the winds. Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather!
All over the earth the faces of living things are all alike. With tenderness have these come up out of the ground. Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms, that they may face the wind and walk the good road to the day of quiet. This is my prayer; hear me now!"
Black Elk's Vision
When Black Elk was nine years old, he was suddenly taken ill and left prone and unresponsive for several days. During this time he had a great vision in which he was visited by the Thunder Beings (Wakinyan), and taken to the Grandfathers — spiritual representatives of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above, and below.
Black Elk had learned many things in his vision to help heal his people. He had come from a line long of medicine men and healers in his family; his father was a medicine man as were his paternal uncles.
In his vision, Black Elk is taken to the center of the earth, and to the central mountain of the world.
As Black Elk related: "While I stood there I saw more than I can tell and understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy."
- If you negotiate on the person's behalf, be sure to discuss with him/her ahead of time what the bottom line is. Be clear as to what is acceptable, or not acceptable to the person as a solution.
- Check-back with the person in a couple of days to see how things are going. If the original plan of action is not working, talk about why it isn't working and develop a new plan of action. Please see: Evaluation Form
Congratulations! You've reviewed some of the most challenging defensive strategy we know. Without it, there would be no motivation for forgiveness.
As an advocate teaching self-advocacy skills, you assist 'the client' (even yourself) to resolve the complaint with a safe accountable authority according to the expressed wishes of 'the client'.
Instructions for Self-Advocacy:
- Meet individually with the client in a place where you can talk confidentially.
- Explain that you will be asking questions, but that they don't have to answer them. Explain that you will be filling out paper work together, and that it will be kept confidential.
- Ask the person to tell you the situation in his/her own words. Ask for clarification if needed, but stick to their verbal complaint. Listen carefully to the words that are being said. Your interpretation is not required. We need to be faithful to the person's expressed intent.
- Separate complaints into:
Situations that are not
Violations of law and
(Be sure to consult the law, and/or customs relevant to your region and/or culture, or other applicable laws and regulations.)
- Show the person the section(s) of the laws or regulations pertaining to his/her complaint. Read it aloud and discuss how it applies to his, or her situation.
- Develop options with the person, explaining the Pros & Cons and possible consequences of each option.
- Stress that the person should try to resolve the problem at the lowest level of authority, or with the other person involved directly, rather than escalating the problem with new challenges.
- Give the person time to think about his/her situation. If s/he is not certain what s/he wants to do, suggest that s/he think about it and contact you the next day.
- After discussing the situation and the possible options, if the person chooses to do nothing - their choice must be respected.
- Otherwise, develop an Action Plan (Please see Problem Solving: Action Plan for an example) .
- List each step in-order with a target date by which the person plans to have that step completed.
- Role play if it will help the person. Give the person suggestions as to the most effective ways of presenting his, or her complaint. Phrase all suggestions positively, i.e., "It may help to say it this way," rather than "That's a stupid way of putting it."
- Offer to be present when the person makes phone calls or talks to someone to offer support. Ask the person what, if anything, s/he would like you to say.
- Give the person a sample 'call log' to fill out as s/he is making phone calls. Be sure the person documents each call: when it was made, what was said, and any agreements that were made.
- Assist the person in sending a follow-up letter, if needed, to re-state the agreements made. Use a business letter format. An email will work too. The point is to use several forms of communication to confirm, or establish what may be in doubt.
- Don't insist that the person do more than he/she is capable of doing in one day. If he/she is too upset or intimidated to act on his/her own, show the person what to do by making the phone call with him/her on an extension, or use a speaker phone so he/she can learn by your example, or return to: Self-examination to work on the emotional issues before proceeding.
(Be sure that your advocacy is based upon the person's expressed wishes, not what you believe they need.)