Today is World Mental Health Day and there will be an abundance of information across all media reminding us of the importance of understanding, being aware and being more compassionate towards those who experience mental health illness.
But, how many of us can understand the logic of how we should look after ourselves, and how many of us are actually able to do that? The conditioning of our outlook on life starts at a very early age, and sometimes, it’s that conditioning that gets in the way of us doing what’s right for us, and being able to understand how challenging life can be for some others.
The new proposals for better awareness of mental health issues and critical life data in schools is wonderful news, the younger we start, the better the outcome. The real problem is that everyone knows that one, single, comment from a parent, teacher or other person of authority can skew our thinking for the rest of our lives, so how do we overcome that one?
The only solution to being able to withstand the influence of the outside world is to build resilience within ourselves, with resilience comes confidence, and with confidence comes the ability to not cave in to peer pressure, or allow someone else’s point of view to tarnish our beliefs, therefore helping us to believe that we can pull through the challenges of life.
Building resilience is another matter entirely! Some people seem to be born with more resilience than others but it is a skill that can be learnt and practiced, you just have to want to do it!
The ability to become resilient can come from many different motivators, when Paul committed suicide, mine came from knowing my children had been through enough, and trying to give them the best lives I could, in spite of the adversity they had encountered, just wasn’t up for debate. Prior to Paul’s death I’d been grateful for my resilience in facing up to the challenges that came with living with a man who had a plethora of mental health challenges as well as having had a difficult life up to that point as well.
Survival is another great motivator when it comes to building resilience and the day my father tried to strangle me really did help with my decision to leave home at 17 and move to London, knowing that there would never be any turning back or help available if I needed it. I was well and truly on my own, but, I survived, and indeed, I thrived!
It doesn’t really matter what motivates you to build more resilience, you just have to want to do it, it’s a state of mind helped by a few learned strategies. It’s a case of believing you can, and in the inimitable words of the great Henry Ford:-
I’m part of the Global Resilience Project spearheaded by Emma J Bell who is fascinated by the question of why some people are more resilient than others. She sought out 50 people from all over the world who had encountered extreme adversity, and, not only survived, but also thrived. I feel very humbled and honoured to be one of her 50 Thrivers and Emma has discovered the 9 secrets to building resilience and her findings will be available shortly.
In the meantime, this is the page on the MIND website that talks about building resilience, you can do it, everyone believes in you, do you believe in yourself?
Film: Kingdom of Us