Yesterday I talked about how important it is to stand up and say what you want to be and to ask for the support you need. However I’m not a fan of the ‘me’ and ‘because I’m worth it’ culture and while people might want to ‘fulfill themselves’ I have roundly been put off by certain navel gazing, narcissistic (and phenomenally bestselling) accounts of how people tormented by their relatively successful and comfortable lives need to ‘find themselves’ without consideration for those around them.
What I’m trying to say that where it is possible we need to foster an atmosphere and practice in our lives of mutual respect and consideration. If we want to follow our dreams, then see what we can also do to help those close to us enjoy life and find space for themselves. We can sacrifice some time to help them and ask for a similar consideration.
Being a mother of four children was a choice I made. But let’s be realistic, the thoughts of bonny babies and prams is a far cry from the reality of bringing up children on a daily basis, and the responsibility that comes with it for the rest of their lives. No-one really knows what it will be like before they experience it and there is sometimes a curveball along the way that makes the challenge greater.
But being a mother, thinking about my children and how to guide them, trying to be a better, more patient, more relaxed person to create a good atmosphere for their upbringing, has made me stronger and has brought out the best qualities in me.
Similarly as people, as writers, we can be on the look out for opportunities to support and encourage each other, to offer assistance, to highlight someone’s efforts even when they haven’t asked for it. In this way we can offer energy and goodwill to others. In the wider area, if we can volunteer, get involved in fundraising or visiting the vulnerable then we place our own lives in context. Turning outwards is essential for mental health and this, I think, is a key factor that we need to emphasize in mental health for young people. Looking outward is a way of giving ourselves satisfaction and realising that many people face challenges and can be resilient and cheerful.
Again, I know and must make it clear that if you are in a patch where your mental health is so fragile that you can’t look out beyond yourself then you need help, medically or psychologically. But for those of us with the normal ups and downs, looking outward can help create mental resilience and energy, make us feel connected and have positive outcomes for the others that we reach out to.