I have been talking about situational analysis before, but never actually posted one, so that’s what I’m going to do today. I had a meeting this morning about the university credits, and the situational analysis will relate everything about how that went.
My therapist had offered me to take a look at the SAs whenever I wanted to send one per email in between sessions, and today was the first time I actually did that. Two minutes after stepping out of the building, I started thinking it through, and by the time I arrived home, it was finished and I only had to write it down.
1. What happened?
The docent in charge of rating the credits and me were sitting in his office, facing each other over his desk. He asked me to name all the classes I had taken. Among them I mention a class on Quaternary geology which I had finished with an oral exam and the grade A -.
Docent (surprised): “Whose class was that?”
Me: “Professor L.’s.”
Docent: “That must have been a long time ago that Professor L. gave this class. I don’t know if I can grant you this credit, that’s not… Did you take the ‘gravel class’? No? Well, nope, that merely adds up to prior knowledge.”
2. Interpretation (how did I feel, what did I think, what does the situation mean to me):
– I felt nervous (sweaty hands, rapid heart beat).
– I felt worthless and degraded, as if my knowledge and credits were not worth anything.
– I was angry because he wouldn’t look at the credits which I had brought and questioned me instead about them.
3. Facial Expression and body language:
– I sat on my chair, hands folded in my lap, looking the docent in the face with an expression of surprise, staring for a few seconds without saying anything.
4. Actual Outcome:
I didn’t say anything, so the docent continued to question me.
5. Desired Outcome:
I would have liked to state – with a self-confident voice – that this class was a regular credit like all the others too, and that it had counted as relevant content for the diploma students who had taken the class together with me as well, even if Prof. L. usually teaches a different class.
6. Did you get what you wanted?
Because I got taken by surprise and didn’t dare protesting afterwards as I felt too intimidated.
8. Are the interpretations accurate and relevant?
All interpretations are accurate, as they are all about me. I did not engage in mind-reading, nor did I globalise / generalise or engage in emotional thinking.
All interpretations are relevant, since I really did think them in the situation, and they are about the situation.
9. Did my interpretations help or hinder me in getting what I wanted?
The feelings of nervousness and worthlessness hindered me; they caused me to not speak my mind.
The anger helped me getting in the right direction, since anger pushes you towards taking action. It was not enough, though.
10. What would help me getting what I want next time a similar situation occurs?
Next time I get taken by surprise, I need to have an automated response and think “stand up [for yourself]”, so I can take action before the other person moves on, and also so I do not get trapped in a cycle of negative self-belief.
11. In which similar situations can I practice this?
The final evaluation of my credits will happen only after I officially enrolled, so there will be a second chance. Before that, I can practice on a small scale every time someone behaves differently towards me than I anticipated, for example with family and friends.
12. What did I learn from this situation?
I learned that, as in other situations before, I need to stand up and speak out for myself, or it will make me feel frustrated and feed negative self-beliefs.
This might appear a rather tedious exercise at first glance, but has proven very helpful as I came to master it. The situational analysis breaks up every situation into tiny pieces, which you can assess individually then. This makes you find out where your personal problems lie: some people may have difficulties with their behaviour and come off as very hostile, for example, so they need to work on building a calmer appearance in order to not constantly set off the people they interact with. Others frequently want to get something out of a situation that cannot be realistically achieved, so they need to find out what they can expect and what not. Some, like me, are too timid or shy and have to develop strategies to counteract the urge to withdraw.
The situational analysis is not only useful for finding out where you went wrong after the situation happened, but it eventually hightens your awareness of behavioural patterns as well, so that you observe certain characteristics while they are playing out, which helps you modifying your reactions on the spot. Learning and internalizing the procedure takes a while, but you gradually get better.
Back on the topic of my appointment: obviously, I came out of it with mixed feelings. Despite of the docent being perfectly mannered, he gave off a rather serious air, entirely devoid of emotion. It intimidated me – which, given my own feelings of inadequacy, did not help with building confidence.
I got the assessment I need for enrollment, however, and my credits will get the definitive rating only once I’m enrolled, so I have another month to practice showing my claws and fangs if necessary.
The docent didn’t ask about the reasons for my long break, by the way.