Everyone has a gift to be given. We have heard many quotes that talk about our place in the world and our worth to those around us. We don't think of our actions as gifts of inspiration and hope. It is a common misconception for us to believe that we are only important to those closest to us, such as family members. Today I want to challenge you to think differently....
Your smile is truly a gift! You never know how smiling at someone can change their day. People are constantly observing us while we remain unaware that we are being studied. People search for sincerity, honesty, gentleness and genuine regard for others. There are so many people who hide behind masks and are afraid to become vulnerable and share their pain - that is until you smile at them! Until you hold open the door for them! Until you help them pick up their stack of papers they accidentally knocked down! If these sound like basic actions that don't mean much, you're right on one of those things. These are basic actions - basic actions that demonstrate an authentic regard for others. If you think it doesn't matter to people, I regret to inform you that you are wrong.
I can remember starting at a new job and meeting someone who I didn't expect to establish a relationship with. It wasn't that I didn't want to - it's just that the thought had never crossed my mind. About a week after we met, she randomly brought me a box of Starbucks K-Cups. They weren't wrapped up all fancy. It was no special occasion. She didn't include a card or anything of the sort, but that one small action changed the course of our relationship. I was so touched that she had thought enough of me to bring me in coffee. Anyone who knows me knows that I L-O-V-E Starbucks (Venti Caramel Latte with 2 XTRA pumps - yes extra don't judge me! Don't believe me? Check my Instagram!) but I don't think I had come into work with any Starbucks. Yet here we were and she showed genuine regard for me through her actions. Can I tell you that we are still close friends today? Can I tell you that those genuine actions never stopped? Can I tell you that she is one of the most awesome people that I know who I never would expected to connect with?
What is my point? The point is for you not to count your actions null and void. The point is for you not to underestimate the power of human kindness. The point is to believe you have something to offer those around you. Many people believe that mental health recovery can only be handled by a professional. While this is true for the treatment portion of mental health recovery, the client still has to live a life outside of treatment and well... that's where you come in! One of the most crucial aspects towards recovery from any circumstance is a safe, supportive environment with people who are committed to helping the client recover. Many of you probably provide this type of support already, while some may be frustrated in trying to figure out how to start helping someone recover from a state of crisis. For those of you who want to provide support, I offer you recovery strategies...
Recovery Strategy #1 | Meet people where they are
Seida, what does it mean to meet people where they are? It means not to expect a toddler to run a marathon. Why? Because a toddler is 1) a toddler 2) just learning to walk 3) does not have the ability or the endurance to do what it takes to run said marathon. With mental health recovery (MHR), you learn only to expect what the person can give at the time. Then as they grow stronger in certain areas, you increase the expectation. This is not to say they won't surprise you and exceed your expectations! It's just a reminder that one typically has to crawl before they walk. However, there are babies that skip right to the walking portion, because people develop at their own pace. Rejoice in their progress no matter how small!
RS #1 | Example
A 16-year old male who is always in trouble for disrespectful behavior, such as cursing, yelling and physical aggression, towards authority figures. It is most likely that his emotions change frequently and are very intense, so he regularly acts on impulse in expressing them. You can't help him control his emotions until he gains control over his impulses. This will not be easy and he will make mistakes. If you're part of this process, you will also make mistakes. We all know relationships aren't cut and dry. They get messy...really messy. You will wonder if it's even worth it to continue helping him.
Recovery Strategy #2 | Support through pain
Support can be defined in several ways, because it looks different for different people. For me, support might be sitting quietly holding my hand as I cry. For you, support might be cooking you a full course meal on a random weeknight. Some value physical support, while others value financial support. Figure out the best type of support for the situation. Support for a grieving mother looks much different than support for someone who is struggling with Postpartum Depression. You also have to make sure the support is appropriate. There are levels of appropriateness. There is age appropriateness and what is appropriate for the relationship. Support from a teacher to a student looks much different than support from a father to a son. Support for a teen looks much different than support for a toddler. Regardless of what type of support you provide: BE THEIR BIGGEST FAN!
RS #2 | Example
Jake and Sharon both just lost their father. Jake is a 42 year old man with a family of his own. Sharon is a 12 year old girl who has just lost her last living relative. While Jake needs a ton of support and his grieving should not be minimized, Sharon would need more hands-on, active, long term support at least until she turns 18 years of age. See what I mean? Support looks different depending on who you are, what your role is and the age/position of the person you're supporting.
Recovery Strategy #3 | Beyond Your Limits
Remember we talked about the professional portion of MHR? Well one of the key aspects of helping someone recover from a crisis is understanding when you are beyond your limits. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help. Seeking professional help does not exclude you from the process. Professional help will give you specific tools and ways you can help the person and possibly even speed up the road to recovery. Sometimes professional help is counseling, while other times it may be a matter of linking them to a resource.
RS #3 | Example
If you are struggling financially and don't have a nice nest egg to fall back on, chances are you cannot afford to let your best friend who just got evicted move in with you. While the gesture is very noble and kind, it will most likely do more harm than good to the friendship and your credit! Eventually you both will become frustrated with the circumstances, because the need for both of you is the same: finances! A more feasible solution would probably be to link your best friend to a resource like Legal Shield, who can provide much more support than you could (unless you're an attorney).
Do you have some strategies that aren't listed here? Come on - I know you guys are out there doing great things!! Share below in the comments, in the Tribe Lounge or send me an email! Wanna join the tribe? Sign up below for weekly updates, exclusive goodies and tribe mail delivered straight to your inbox!