Posted in Weekly Blog

Surprising yourself with achievements



steven spielberg

We considered how we often base success on societies view of what is a good achievement.  The group identified with Rachel Kelly’s experience that “I  can feel inadequate when I define life as a series of milestones and find I’m not the place I have decided is an arbitrary indicator of success……Flip into the world of results and ‘achievements’ and I quickly become anxious, pressurised by my own and societies expectations.”

So at the group we considered some things we had achieved and were really pleased with and why.  It seemed that as we shared we were really pleased when we achieved the things that we had always been rubbish at or had experienced negatively at school but then in adult life tried it again and had a different experience, ok not record breaking, but we did it and that felt good.  For some people this was gaining qualifications as adults as for whatever reason they had not been able to apply themselves at school but they found joy in these achievements and they were more meaningful later in life.

As human beings we can be self-critical at times, either comparing ourselves to others, or what we think society expects of us.  Once we become aware we are behaving like this we can make a change for the better on what we feel is right for our future at the right time. Remember, things in life can all be about timing and circumstance.  Just because you feel you have not achieved certain things in life does not mean it will never happen. Circumstances can change in your life, never give up hope!

Below is a highly inspirational video which was used at the very start of the Choose Life group’s inception.




Posted in Weekly Blog

Raising Awareness

Communication concept isolated on white


A common thread in previous group discussions was how it was felt that there was not enough information about the group publicised.  Some group members had wished they had known about the group sooner.  With this in mind we decided to use today’s group as a way to see what could be done to promote the group and raise awareness of the groups hopes and aims.  An idea the group have is to create a video explaining what the group is all about.  The group would want the video to achieve many things including;

  • Raising awareness of mental health
  • Allowing people to be themselves
  • Reducing shame around health
  • Showing ways to care for yourself

Above all, the hope is that people will identify with what the group is about and that it may be a group that can help and empower them.

The group will commence work on the video soon, watch this space!

The group would like to end this weeks blog with a quote that they thought about while discussing how to reach out to others

“Where there’s life there’s hope”








Posted in Weekly Blog

A life of meaning

forgiveness not permission girl-and-laughing-camel1 live like someone left the gate open

The group had requested a session on what is meaningful, or helpful.  ‘Meaningful’ can mean a number of different things, it maybe physical or metaphorical, a person a place or an event which changed your life, attitudes or beliefs.  During our discussion we covered a number of topics which have significance for people.  For some, having objects previously owned by people special to us take on meaning, maybe because of the connection to the person and what the object signified to them.

We talked about poetry again today, people still think about Christine De Luca’s visit to the group and how inspiring it can be to communicate things using poetic words and imagery, in fact several group member have since produced poems, please check our poems page to see these.

We also talked about life having meaning involving life having quality.  It can feel to people that when they are suicidal, people are very concerned about the risk of them taking their life, however, in order to see the value of preserving life, that life needs to be seen as having quality in order for reason, purpose, peace, hope, joy, contentment, healing and community….a life worth living.  We hope that within this group that we do enable acceptance, expression, care and tools and strategies in order to help people’s minds become a better place to live; movement from the dark places and different ways of thinking and perceiving events, and hope that healing and restoration are possible.  Group members work hard at times to push themselves through discomfort and difficult feelings and we share in the joy of those achievements together, such as getting up and out and maintaining a morning routine, this was felt to be meaningful.  Sometimes just the simplicity of getting up and having breakfast can contribute to a better day as people are more likely to do something with their day.  Sometimes the achievements are starting something new or returning to something they used to do like cycling, gardening, reading, singing or dancing.  Group members talked about the significance of their hobbies and activities as these can help them to be less isolated, and to reconnect with creative parts of themselves.  One of these hobbies mentioned by group members was Tv box sets.  Some of the most popular among group members included, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Suits” and “Friends” just to name a few.  No matter the difference in people’s hobbies the most important thing is the natural stimulus it gives the person to maintain a healthy lifestyle.




Posted in Weekly Blog

Rebuilding Confidence, Self-Worth and Value


Because we have been broken does not mean that we have lost our value or become, as some may horribly declare, ‘damaged goods’.  In Japan, the ancient art of ‘kintsugi’ where broken vessels are repaired with gold-dust means that the piece “becomes unique and arguably more beautiful” says Rachel Kelly, whose book ‘Walking on Sunshine’ we used extracts from for our group today.  Like her we pondered our own cracks and breaks and those of other people we know, who precisely because of those experiences may have more depth of understanding and wisdom.  To meet with that in others is indeed as gold-dust to us.

As humans we can all think of times when we have been broken; we have been hurt, made a mistake, failed, done something we regret and made bad decisions, or we may have been deliberately or accidentally harmed by another.  These experiences can cause us to lose confidence and trust, as well as feeling guilt, fear, shame, anxious and vulnerable and can lead to ill health, physically, mentally and spiritually, we can also get into states where we feel bitter, angry and resentful and then end up with feelings of self-loathing.

Many of these things can begin to repair as we gain confidence in ourselves and understand our value and worth, so how can we get ‘mended’?  It is important that we learn to accept that we make mistakes.  We are human, not perfect.  All humans make mistakes. For some reasons, despite inherent human frailty, a lot of people have an internal dialogue which continually berates; “you shouldn’t do that, you should do better, I can’t believe you messed that up, idiot, I shouldn’t feel like this, everyone else manages, I must make that change….I’m never going to be good enough…”.  It is also important that we forgive ourselves, which is slightly similar to accepting and acknowledging the mistakes, and then to let it go.  Holding onto mistakes gets very heavy and makes it hard to look forward.  Forgiveness releases us.  It may be argued that forgiving others is also more about a release for us than the other, it helps us to release negative feelings and the thoughts that cause them.  In a healing process it is also helpful to recognise when it is healthy to feel the feelings and when it is getting unhealthy.  For example, anger is a useful emotion, it can indicate that something is not right somewhere, and help us to assert ourselves. It is natural to feel angry if we have been hurt or wronged, however, if the anger is prolonged and becomes all we can think about all day this can become very draining for us as it takes a lot of energy to feel this way and can lead to illness.  If we recognise that an emotion has become all consuming in this way it may be helpful to talk it through with someone or look at the beliefs we are holding which may be creating extreme emotions.

Rachel Kelly also talks about ‘Finding your mid-point’.  People in the group found this idea helpful because it is not about basing how you feel on external things.  Rachel importantly says: “You are not more special when the world smiles on you, nor does your value diminish when things don’t work out.  This is your midpoint; a steadying mindset of valuing yourself and your endeavours that is neither inflated by external successes nor punctured by worldly defeat.”

Sometimes group members have talked about how getting out of toxic relationships or situations contributes to a better sense of wellbeing.  Sometimes the  voices of those toxic relationships may continue in our thoughts.  Rachel Kelly says “It can also be helpful to identify the punishing internal drumbeat of noisy opinions belonging to our friends, teachers, relatives, colleagues and particularly our partners.” She talks about nurturing your own voice to guide and direct you.

Finally we talked about the steps we can take to building confidence again and becoming aware of your worth.  You have inherent worth because you were born and exist.  Rachel talks about having the right to be here and talks about being a child of the universe.  Some people of faith may consider themselves a child of God.  However you choose to view it, you are precious and unique, and the more you are able to believe this, the more confidence you can grow.



Posted in Weekly Blog

We Choose Life

we choose life

We were delighted to have a big group last week and to welcome a new member and to welcome our guest and friend of Choose Life, Geoffrey Baines.  We enjoyed a conversation that was peaceful and positive about one of Geoffrey’s key themes which is discovering that which enegizes you and that which de-energizes you.  One of Geoffrey’s suggestions for discovering this is to keep a list of; ‘I loved it when…..’ and ‘I loathed it when…..’as doing this can help us discover our natural passions.  We chatted about applying this in a job situation, many people end up in jobs they loath and which drain them, they ended up there because they are good at it, not necessairily because they love it, we talked about the idea of being free to think about trying new things, people can get stuck in a rut of thinking things like “I’ve always done this so I’m best to stick with this kind of work”  or “I’m too old to retrain and do something new”.  This also caused us to question; who says that our productivity or creativity or even flexibility ceases when we reach the age of 65?  (Apparently this may have been the U.S government when initially deciding pensionable age).  We also considered some fears that can become barriers such as considering financial security and the idea of a big leap into something new, so we talked about how to take small steps.  Certainly it would be frightening and in most cases not advisable to just leave a job with nothing to go to, however, its no harm to have a look at the job pages and see what kind of things are out there, then maybe check out organisations websites to get more information, we may even try a phonecall to get more information, maybe a visit, some voluntary hours or an application form.  These are small manageable steps and each one does not require a big sacrificial step, we make small decisions on the journey as we go.

Importantly, we also discussed the impact having depression can have because in times of illness it can be hard to believe that you are able to do or achieve anything, when confidence is low it can be difficult to know what may energise or inspire you and generally the journey of self discovery may feel quite veiled.  These are issues we will explore over the next few weeks as we look at building confidence and awareness of worth, how we can suprise ourselves with what we can acheive at times, and what we can turn to which can provide us with meaning, inspiration and help.

Different people shared for them what it had meant to take some risks and leave a de-energising and wearying situation and step into something new and different where they could thrive, grow and feel passionate.

Once again with warm thanks to Geoffrey, it was a timely and topical visit.  As we chatted, Geoffrey created the doodle for us pictured at the top of the page.  This will have pride of place on our group room wall. For more of Geoffrey’s doodles and thoughts you can visit his website;