Sunday, September 23, 2018

How To Break Up With Your Support Group

I don't hide my feelings well at all. But I always ALWAYS try to remain as polite and professional as possible. But this article...this is something that has been stewing inside of me for many, many years. I typically let a lot of things slide but this is something that just keeps coming back and doesn't seem to be noticed as the sheep in wolves clothing. I believe that good people get noticed for what they do and how they help and I also believe that those who are not doing well for the community will (eventually) be seen for who they truly are. Then a thought occurred to me- what if the people that are noticing these inexcusable behaviors just don't know what to do to fix it? I am all about having some answers to offer rather than just sitting around complaining about it.

My hope is that this article will help someone who is unhappy with their support group leader. I am sharing because it is NOT ok for someone to be unhappy in a support group, especially with food allergies already being so overwhelming and confusing. Let's look at some for instances...

  • It is NOT ok for a support group leader to be belligerent to others or to take action for the chance of prestige for themselves when in reality, support groups are all about the community, helping everyone and all working together. It's a group- there is no single pat on the back, there is no "I have this all planned out and it doesn't matter what you say". 
  • It is NOT ok to be malicious and tell outright lies about others around you to try to bring additional members to your group, thinking you are the only one in the spotlight to help these people that place their trust in you. Eventually, your group members will see through you.
  • It is NOT ok to use anger or negativity as a power play within your group. If you are supposed to lead, then lead with positivity. Such is the saying "You catch more flies with honey".
Why do we need food allergy support groups? Because food allergies are something that can be both positive and negative. If we rally together and unite, we do amazing things together. We raise awareness, we meet new friends, we develop new methods for coping and most of all, our unity saves lives. So what about those who don't feel supported but rather, bullied? What about those who don't know where to turn and they just go with the flow because they don't want to make waves? There is a word that describes leaders that have these behaviors- it's called egotist. There is an amazing article written by Chip Scholz that shares the reasoning of an egotist and their actions. How much of this sounds all to familiar?
  • "Egotists regard themselves as superior, set apart from everyone else
  • They are entitled and important simply because they want to be
  • They know everything, or at least don't believe they can be taught anything of significance in their immediate world
  • With a rear-view-mirror perspective, they rely on past accomplishments, convinced these are enough to carry them wherever they want to go.
Because of the need to protect their sense of superiority, egotists are disconnected from the world, often naive about its workings. In their minds, everything is simplified to conform to their personal perceptions.

They are blind to "uncooperative agents, or refuse to deal with them. They refashion the truth to better support their egotistical self-image. This causes the egotist to carve out a false life to be lived out in a false world. The resulting blind spots lead to a distorted worldview and behaviors that aren't appropriate or effective. 

Since it can't be their fault when things don't go their way, egotists resent the people or systems they feel have let them down. They may adopt a persecution mentality, playing the victim of "unfair" treatment. Caught up with distorted thoughts and imagery, they ratchet up the superiority even more, to regain position."

What Can YOU Do As a member of a support group, you DO have rights and you CAN do something to try to better your group. Before you get caught up in support group drama, reach out to other members to see how they feel and what they would like to see changed for the better. It may seem as if you are ganging up on the support group leader but this is simply not the case- you may need to check with yourself to make sure that you are not seeing into situations that are not actually there. Safety in numbers is best, even if it's just for a reality check.

-Petition to have the support group leader step down. You may need to have very thick skin to do this but if you feel this is necessary and you feel strongly that it's best for the group's mission, then it is an option. Point out the purpose for your petition but also offer recommendations on how removing the current support group leader would be beneficial. Ask other group members to stand with you when you present it or to sign it as well. Keep in mind that if this request is denied, you may need to search for a new support group.

- Ask people with authority to join you. Is you support group broken down into different levels of leadership? Approach one of those who have more authority than you and discuss your thoughts with them. A true support group will welcome any and all thoughts of a member but (again) be prepared to offer suggestions of how to improve the situation as well. Sometimes when support group leaders are caught up in their day to day, they don't realize that members are not happy with the current setup.

- Alert national non-profits. Many food allergy support groups strive to be recognized as national non profit support group. If a support group leader is not a positive role model, doesn't seem to have a true mission to help vs. gain popularity or if they have  reputation within the community to be impossible to approach or work with, this also reflects badly on any national non profits who have given that group their seal of approval. Sometimes these national non profits need a little bit of a heads up to investigate on their own, especially if a valued member of the food allergy community feels that their group leader is less than what the non profit expects.




If you feel that your food allergy support group is not sustaining what you need for your community, ask yourself what the cause is. Find someone who will support you. Find a leader that is pleasant to speak to. Above all, don't put up with anyone's crap- there is too much to worry about already and so much better that we can accomplish together.





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