Today we looked at what compliments meant to people. We broke the discussion into four key points;
- How do you find giving compliments?
- How do you find receiving compliments?
- What are the rules/beliefs you attach to giving and receiving compliments?
- Is there any difference between confidence and arrogance?
Group members did not seem to have too much of a problem in giving others compliments.
What was a big challenge for them was being able to accept compliments. Receiving compliments made them feel slightly awkward and uncomfortable. Some of the examples and beliefs for this were;
- “I find compliments hard to believe due to my low sense of self-worth”
- “They don’t really mean it and are just being nice”
- ” They are just sweetening me up as they want something”
- ” They will find out the real me and not like it”
- ” They are doing this as a joke at my expense”
- “I don’t want people to think I’m a big head”
We then finally discussed whether local culture plays a part in these beliefs. In the U.K. we can tend to be very self-depreciating finding it hard to big ourselves up for fear of ridicule from others. Is it a confidence thing and we don’t wan’t to be seen as arrogant? There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. so where is the fine line? Below is a snippet of an interesting article from Dr Leisha Bailey on this
*Arrogant people build themselves up by putting others down – to “win”. Buddhism asserts that arrogance is to judge one’s self-worth by comparison with others. Arrogant people feel good about themselves only through affirming their superiority to others. Genuinely confident people feel great about themselves without comparing themselves with others. Arrogant people tend to bluff their way to success and often have difficulty listening to others. This person will avoid risks or blame others or circumstances if things do not work out as expected*
*Confidence is not a belief that one is always right or a sense of being unable to fail. True confidence welcomes alternative perspectives and opinions. A confident person rarely will be found lecturing or preaching to others on how they are wrong. Believing you are always right and unable to accept influence from others can make one obnoxious to be around. Confidence is being willing to be wrong and knowing you’ll be OK if you are. A truly self-confident person is able to show vulnerability and admit to past mistakes.*
In this session we decided to have a look at our own unconscious biases and prejudice. It can be very easy to be judgmental of other peoples prejudice (Yes! I know that’s ironic). It can be easy to get self-righteous about the prejudice of others without being aware of our own as per a spectacular piece of graffiti which used to grace a bridge in Edinburgh saying “Go Home Bigots”. And here I am self-righteously judging their prejudice, and so it goes on!
We looked at the ‘Unconscious Prejudice Questionnaire’ which we did notice some of the language maybe had an unconscious prejudice of it’s own. People quietly reflected upon areas where they maybe did have a bias, we noticed that sometimes we are afraid to admit this. But people did share biases and we noticed that often these were connected to personal experience.
Everyone has implicit biases and prejudice, these come from family upbringing, cultural norms, media portrayal of certain groups and about people groups with whom we are not familiar or not educated about-ignorance is not always bliss, nor is it helpful. Businesses, recruitment and community suffer when we discriminate due to unconscious bias, we miss out on skill, diversity and different perspectives. As is often the case in our conclusion, keeping an open mind, being open to be educated and as we did in this session and be honest about the thoughts you are uncomfortable with.
For a more relaxed session today and informal conversation we held an ‘arts and crafts’ session-well loosely anyway. Having started with a mindful breathing exercise we had a couple of sheets to focus on something in particular if that is what people wished. One was ‘the healing flame’ helping individuals track a recovery process. This could be from past abuse of any kind. As a group we have witnessed members grow, grieve, become stronger and back to themselves having had abusive situations in their past. The other was a mandala prompting thoughts of things to be grateful for. Individuals chose different exercises for personal reasons. For some, tracking the linear process of recovery was helpful and for others a more circular idea of coping made more sense as life cannot always be tracked in linear process as anyone living with recurring anxiety or depression may well know. Whichever way we view our own recovery, our emphasis here is that movement is always possible; from the despair to hope and from broken dreams, hopes and crushed spirits to new growth, strength and contentment. Conversation was shared among the group as we worked on these exercises about how people managed, coped with and perceived life’s difficulties, leaving people feeling heard and understood.
The Healing Flame we found on a website called ‘Letting Your Light Shine’.
The following mandala was found on a website called ‘Today’s Inkling’.
Group members talked about who their favourite movie characters were and why. They agreed that fictional characters provides them a feeling of escapism from their everyday lives. Movie characters can be form part of our public consciousenss in the same way as pieces of music do.
Imagining how your movie character would deal with someone who has bullied you can help inspire you with a little bit more strength. Equally a very anxious child can imagine having superhero powers like Spiderman to keep them safe.
Below is an example from Spiderman;
This session’s topic was in line with Mental Health Awareness Week’s topic of body image. How we view our bodies can positively or negatively affect our mental health and contribute to eating disorders. It is a rising issue in a social media dominated generation where definition by selfie has become very important.
We had a think about what our bodies say about us, whether we connect what is happening in our body to what is happening in our mind, feelings and choices. We also thought about what is our relationship like with our mirror?
What some people noticed is that they didn’t really connect body to other things, however some were aware of eating habits, or clothes choices being affected by mood. Mood can be affected by how we feel about what we look like and we can accordingly dress or eat in ways which communicate that, either looking like we aren’t caring about ourselves much or we do dress to feel good.
As part of mental health awareness week, ‘Mental Health Foundation provided these Statistics on body image .
The following poem was also performed for the awareness campaign: You’re more than a reflection
The word failure in of itself can create quite a negative feeling for people by conjuring up feelings of humiliation, disappointment, smashed expectations and things that went wrong. We explored the difference between what failure actually is, and what it means for us and our identity.
Failure is something which did not work, or something we did not do. When we start to apply failure personally; ‘I am a failure’ we can get into upsetting territory. Maybe if we view failure as something at which we tried but wasn’t for us, perhaps we gave it our best, but whatever happened, we did not succeed, seen in this way we can view failure as something from which we learn, and not something we should make people feel bad for. We talked about not being invested in the outcome, but just being able to be free to be you in the process and encouraging the same in others; if we are not stressed about the outcome we are more likely to be creative, productive and work from a place of joy rather than anxiety.
Group members reflected that not succeeding at something can be helpful for teaching humility, building resilience and quite possibly leading us down an alternative route altogether to be successful in something we hadn’t imagined or set out to do. Derek Redmond and his father did not set out to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona intent on becoming on of the most inspirational, moving, father and son examples. More likely they set out to set a record and win gold. However, the hamstring injury totally changed what was achieved that day. Failure also teaches determination and not losing heart-look at Edison and his 10000 light bulbs!
Someone in the group suggested that the difference between success and failure is a good story! And Nelson Mandela famously quoted Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
What exactly did she mean by this? Have we sometimes got so comfortable in not succeeding to the point of not trying something different, and we can get comfortable in the negative story that we tell ourselves about ourselves that we wouldn’t know what to do with success and needing to change our story?
Is the fear of failure greater than the hope of success? Has being stuck become more comfortable than the discomfort of risking doing something new?
Group members reflected on changes and successes they have made and observed each other making over time as we have been meeting together.
It is over 10 years since the government and the NHS started circulating leaflets and information about ‘5 ways to well being’. In recognising, from evidence that a small improvement in well being can help to decrease some mental health problems and also can help people to flourish. Five actions were therefore set out to improve personal well being, and these formed the origins of this group. These are below:
We started out this discussion with what group members considered important for mental well being, and this is what they said:
Although we can know the healthy things to do, they can be difficult to implement when struggling and feeling overwhelmed, so we asked people what had helped them to do what was good for them even when they felt bad. People had appreciated in these times the kindness of others, receiving counselling, remembering to dismount! (i.e to not go charging into things when stressed out), to take time to make a responsible decision, and perhaps to remember to be kind to self. The to-do list need not be full of impossible sounding tasks, but maybe to get up, stand outside and make contact with someone is enough for one day.