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AE Newsletter - October 2018
Our Ambivalence
We are filling in as interim newsletter writers until the new Assertive Engagement Coordinator is hired. The position previously held by tash shatz, our County colleague and friend. We are still holding ambivalence about their departure. On one hand, we miss them because they are no longer in close proximity to us. On the other hand, we are happy for them and about their new work and the learning opportunities they will have there.
Late Autumn Ambivalence
Autumn Daybreak by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know-for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor-
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.
Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.
Retrieved from 
Mind Your Ambivalence
Have you ever felt conflicted (simultaneously held positive and negative thoughts or feelings) about a person or issue that is important to you? Have you ever felt discomfort after you realized that have not acted in ways that live up to your deeply held beliefs? If so, you were experiencing ambivalence, and you are not alone. Ambivalence was once thought of as a rare and undesirable character flaw, but many researchers now think that ambivalence is a useful tool to work through internal feelings of contradictions and conflicts. Also, it turns out that there are many types of ambivalence and most of us feel ambivalent about many things and quite often.
You Got Attitude: It's all about the ABCs
Attitude is a learned way of thinking or feeling about an object (issue, event, group, etc.). Attitude is comprised of Affect (emotions and feelings); Behavior (actions); and Cognition (thinking, reason, decision-making, and interpretation) about objects. Our attitudes, whether we actively think about them or not, don't just spring up out of our heads; they come from our external world and our place in it. Sometimes, when our real attitude doesn't align with our ideal attitude, this can cause cognitive dissonance and ambivalence. It turns out the ABCs aren't so easy after all!
"I don't have all day to read this; can you give a super simple example?" So, let's say, that I absolutely love coffee. I love the warmth and smell of it as it brews (all affects), and I believe drinking coffee makes me smarter (cognition). I try to schedule all of my meetings in coffee shops (behavior). Despite my positive feelings about coffee, I know I should stop drinking coffee because it keeps me up at night (ambivalence). My attitude about coffee is conflicted because I also value and need sleep.
Could You Hold My Ambivalence For Me?
So, I come and tell you about my coffee dilemma. You say, "Okay, since you know coffee keeps you up at night, stop drinking it". Or that's what you may be thinking, but you understand AE and the importance of holding ambivalence. You're aware of personal biases you may hold about coffee drinkers and suspend your judgements. Instead, you acknowledge my ambivalence, and then you seek to understand where my ambivalence is coming from.
You ask open-ended and clarifying questions, which allow me the space to think about the spectrum of positive and negative feelings that come with my love for coffee and how this love interferes with my need for sleep. You also learn that I do want and value sleep, but I'm worried about headaches that may come with caffeine withdrawals. In addition, I worry that I might not be as alert without my coffee. In this place of ambivalence, I am able to think about whether I want to modify my behaviors (coffee drinking or sleeping), and, if so, what behaviors do I want to modify and how (change talk).
Instead of trying to fix the problem, you notice and stay with me in that place of exploring my ambivalence. You realize that my ambivalence is a powerful way for me to evaluate my values; assess whether I currently have the tools I need to follow through with my values; strategize how I might be able to get support if I don't.
Embrace Your Ambivalence?
Ambivalence about a person, issue, etc. can be an alarm that lets you know when things are not in balance, and it may help you challenge your current assumptions or knowledge about them. Ambivalence may help you think through your ideals versus the reality of your behaviors, and to find ways that you can work towards your goals. Of course, you don't want to be ambivalent about everything all the time, and I am hopeful that you are now less ambivalent about ambivalence.
Ambivalently yours,
The AE Team

As always, please feel free to reach out with feedback, ideas, items to share in the newsletter, requests for support, and more! We're here to help however we can : email aeinfo (at) multco (dot) us. 

2018 AE Training Schedule
We know that trainings continue to fill up quickly and we're doing our best to meet demand for free-of-charge trainings. 
This newsletter is the best place to learn when new AE trainings open for registration, so please spread the word that anyone interested in AE training can subscribe to our monthly updates.
Stay tuned for the 2019 schedule coming soon! 

Upcoming trainings:
At the Grotto Conference Center from 9:00am - 4:30pm

  • October/November - AE 101: Tuesday October 30, Wednesday October 31, and Wednesday November 7 (registration full to capacity)
  • November - AE Refresher (canceled)
Continued Learning 
Keeping AE practices sustained can take continued attention. Each month we'll share new and old readings, videos, and other pieces we're thinking of and hearing about. We'll also feature a monthly question.
Question of the Month
This month, we invite you to connect or reconnect with someone you met in training, or a coworker you rarely talk with. The question this month is: When have you held ambivalence with someone without trying to "fix" their issue?
We'd love to share your challenges and successes with the AE community.  Do you have a challenge or success to share? Click here!

Here are some of the resources we've heard about, been reminded of, or were shared by members of the AE community:

Ambivalence on YouTube Refresh yourself on what ambivalence even means with this two-minute YouTube clip facilitated by a hand puppet.
Is Ambivalence Healthy? Researchers Have Mixed Feelings
"It can ease the pain when you lose but backfire when you win. Wheeler and Reich were surprised to discover that ambivalence could make the things we want less desirable once we get them. "It's a little like an insurance policy," Wheeler says. 'It's good to have when you need it, but there's a cost. You generate these feelings toward something and it changes your view of yourself and the outcome.'"
Don't be Ambivalent About Ambivalence "Some people actually have a fear of making decisions altogether. If that's you, it is likely you have many regrets about things that may have passed you by, simply because you didn't act decisively when you had the opportunity to do so. If you think my statement that "ambivalence can ruin your life" is a little too strong, perhaps you may even take comfort in the ambivalence."  
    Understanding Ambivalence and Inner Conflict "Inherently tied into ambivalence is a sense of sadness or loss - of what we could have or what we might miss out on. The truth is that much of life involves uncertainty about any number of known or unknown elements, and it is natural to experience difficulties in making up our minds, or have periods of indecision, indecisiveness or uncertainty."              
Gender Diversity in Children & Youth: Inclusive & Affirming Care "This workshop for educators, school counselors and other school personnel will focus on how we can work toward creating more inclusive and affirming classroom environments for gender nonconforming, gender diverse and transgender students in K-12 schools. Workshop content will be informed by presenter Jenn Burleton 's more than 10 years of gender diversity-specific interaction with students and schools. Participants will cover specific guidance on discussing gender identity and expression with students, how to best explain gender transition to students and parents, and the use of non-binary inclusive teaching tools for biology, history, and diversity curriculums. Read a presenter Q&A here. Cost: $125 before 10/3, 6 CEUs or PDUs. $50 student rate. Alumni save 20%."

Sunday, October 27th
Jenn Burleton, TransActive Gender Center

[Photo is of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a white woman with shoulder length blonde hair and black-framed glasses wearing a black blazer.]

We applaud Dr. Ford's incredible strength, courage and tenacity in testifying before the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Her recounting of her sexual assault experiences match what we know about how trauma is processed and what many of us have heard from survivors for decades. Dr. Ford was a voice for survivors everywhere, and a powerful, human one. Check out her opening statement in full, if you haven't seen it yet.

If you have a Piece of Hope to share, please email and your Piece of Hope may be featured in a future newsletter!
Past Assertive Engagement Newsletters:

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