Lessons From the Field

Ben joined the Pacific Quest team in November of 2011.  His experience, skill, and genuine enthusiasm for working with young adults made him a trusted leader when Pacific Quest opened our new young adult program at Reeds Bay. Ben is currently earning his Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, and will be leaving Pacific Quest this summer to begin his training as a Counselor with an innovative young adult transition program in Boulder, Colorado.

Before leaving the Island, Ben asked to share some of the lessons he learned from his students, and friends, in the gardens of Pacific Quest.

  • “But” negates: whatever you hear before someone says “but” ISN’T true, so ignore it.  “I love you but…” means I don’t love you.  “I did it already but…” means I didn’t.  “I will but…” means I won’t.
  •  Validate effort: pay more attention to people’s effort than their results.  It’s easy to succeed at what you’re already good at.  It’s harder to succeed when you’re trying something new. The student who is struggling the most is often the one who is growing the most.  Save your validation for students who are growing rather than succeeding.
  • Focus on your growth: When you feel insecure, practice!  Focus on your growth rather than on your success.  You can succeed at learning on the first try…and the hundredth.
  • Frustration is blocked goal achievement: if you’re feeling frustrated reassess your goals.  If you find yourself frustrated that a student disagrees with you, imagine that same disagreement if your goal was to express yourself rather than be agreed with.
  • Power struggling: If you’re locked in a power struggle, don’t tell the student what to do.  Just tell them what you are going to do.
  • Non-solution based resentments vs non-resentment based solutions: you only get two choices brah.
  • Tell on yourself: find out what you do when you’re uncomfortable.  If you don’t know, ask someone who loves you because they do.  When you recognize yourself doing it, tell on yourself and ask for help before you hurt someone.
  • Fear vs excitement: The same neurotransmitter responsible for fear is responsible for excitement. The brain distinguishes between the two based on our expectations.  If I’m challenged to a game of basketball and I think I’m gonna win, I feel excitement.  If I think I’m gonna lose, I feel anxiety.  What we expect doesn’t control what happens to us.  It does control how we feel about what happens to us.
  • Feeling my feelings (fmf): Sometimes students don’t know how they feel.  Sometimes students know how they feel but don’t know how to describe how they feel.  Sometimes students know exactly how they feel, and how to describe it, and don’t want to do either. Each one of these students needs something different from you.
  • What if this was my kid?: Ask yourself this question often.  Sometimes it will keep you from doing something selfish.  Other times it will inspire you to do something selfless.
  • Have fun: On your best days, your students have probably never met anyone like you and they want to grow up to be just like you.  Life cannot only be about growth…there needs to be room for fun.  When we have fun, we are showing our students that responsibility doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.  When you are having fun, you are showing your students that adulthood is worth it.

 By Ben Digati

“I am an independent capable man worthy of love and respect”