As a peer provider, work can get a bit confusing. Sometimes I have to go back to my office after a short interaction and ground myself in the guidelines for doing peer support. There are very few rules but there are some.
Rule #1: Do not have sex with the people you serve.
Not that I was thinking of doing this but this is a rule with no if ands or buts.
Rule #2 Ask people for help or support when confused. This is an important rule as I don’t know all the answers, I’m not supposed to and it can be dangerous to think that I do. Refer people to the proper sources – a doctor or nurse, their support group, a class, instead of thinking I have to provide all services.
Guidelines are not rules but excellent reminders of how I can continue to grow as a peer provider
Guideline #1: It’s not my job to fix people, just to offer them opportunities. People can cry and be angry, people can make the same mistakes over and over. I do, everyone does. If I stop them then they don’t get to learn.
Guideline #2 It’s not my job to punish people, or prove them wrong but to explore their choices and let them have natural consequences. I guess this is related to the first one. Life is a brave experiment. I tend to be impatient and want to see results but I have to trust that people and things change on their own time. I’ve noticed that when I don’t jump on people they actually come to me and talk about what happened.
Guideline #3 If I am trying too hard to help someone then I am probably taking away some of the humanity and power of others to beef up my own no matter how good my intentions may be. When I’m being the best peer provider I can be, I notice and ask if I am pushing too hard then attempt to regain my balance and let go of my need to help people.
Guideline #4 When I’ve had it and notice cynicism, irritation or hopelessness creep into my work, then it’s time to take care of my own recovery and trust that this will set a good example. This is also a time to tell myself what I am doing right and what is going well so I don’t dwell on mistakes.
Guideline #5 Keep it simple. Take small steps, offer small steps. Remember that planning is good but too much planning can be a recipe for a taste of humility
Guideline #6 Practice gratitude. I’m lucky to have a job as a peer provider. There are many others who would like my job! Gratitude is a good fertilizer for hope.
It’s just like riding a bike. Sometimes I’ve got to adjust my speed, breathe, notice the scenery and enjoy the company of the person I’m with without crashing into them!