Today we looked at how people could make positive changes in their lives and ways to do this. This group’s ethos is very much built upon movement and progressing to a place of hope from low points of despair.
For some, the very thought of change invokes a fear of the unknown. This can be really debilitating and make you feel like you are stuck in a situation you want to change but are scared to (C.S. Lewis picture quote above very much captures this). Once you make the decision to change it can feel like you are taking a leap of faith, trusting that you have made the right decision and are able to deal with whatever comes your way.
We used the ‘Stages of Change’ template for today’s exercise with people using the model below;
1. Pre-contemplation – I enjoy smoking, I don’t have a problem with it.
2. Contemplation – Smoking could be bad for my health?
3. Preparation – Evaluating how to stop smoking.
4. Action – Going to smoking cessation group to learn tools and stop smoking.
5. Maintenance – Sustaining recovery and not giving in to a lapse.
In conclusion, we do realise how daunting change can feel but if you plan it out in steps like the above tool you are giving yourself a far better chance of achieving your aims.
At today’s group we looked at what helped people to feel better while experiencing low mood. It is a really horrible feeling when you feel you are stuck under a big black cloud with no sign of hope or light. As this group is all about finding and building hope we felt it would be interesting to see what does help people who feel loss of hope. We did ‘The people I would get to hold the rope for me’ exercise (picture above). It allowed people to write down who or what helps then while feeling on the edge. These are what people chose; Friends, good song, food, mother, routine, garden, sun, and music. This exercise made people think about how they feel while asking for help. Most people agreed that they really found it hard to ask for help. We then discussed what it would be like if we were the people holding the rope to help someone. They said they would do all they could to help someone else. What this showed was how people are so good at helping others but find it harder to apply the same compassion to themselves.
We then went on to do an exercise called ‘Scrap box of six places’ People filled this in putting in the six places that made them happy. They were; Chess club, Visiting Paris, London, Dundee, Bournemouth, Loch Ness, Arthur Seat, New Craighall fields, beach, cinema, fet-lor boys club, Sunbathing, Countryside, music festivals, street markets, people watching in city, and different fictional places.
In light of today’s group we realised that learning to have more self-compassion is something we will continue to work on .
At the group today we looked back at our experiences of school and the legacy it left behind. We wanted to have a rounded discussion looking at both the good times and the times that were not so good. Below are what people came up with;
- Belittled by teachers
- No support to help me with problems at home
- Bullied by other kids
- Humiliation/abuse by teachers
- Looked down on for not having ‘the right’ clothes
- Called stupid by teacher and made to stand out in front of other pupils
- Played truant to avoid school
- Not being able to talk about mental health
- Not believed by teachers
- A welcome break from home life
- Gave safe structure
- Felt understood by teacher
- Helped to find a voice
- Supportive teachers
- Made good friends
- Loved drama
- Learned languages
- Enjoyed music scene
- Got a dinner
It was really interesting to compare the school of today to what it was like in the past. We thought that there is now an improvement in the support pupils receive and that there is also a better understanding of mental health. In days gone by there was much less knowledge of things like dyslexia, A.D.H.D etc. Who knows, if this information had been available then it may have prevented the needless suffering experienced by people who grew up believing they were stupid? We then discussed unhelpful school rules. An example of this is if you did not have shorts or trainers to participate in gym (P.E) you were then made to do it in your bare feet and underpants. This must have been so demeaning and damaging for pupils. Thankfully practices like this are no longer active and are consigned to the past.
In conclusion, members enjoyed having the the opportunity to talk about the good and bad of their school years and that no matter the experience they could try and learn from it and be the person they strive to be. Even people who suffered bad experiences felt that it could provide motivation for them to succeed in life. Below are examples of two very different experiences of school but were both used in a way that helped them to succeed in life.
(Made by the group)
Today we looked at the concept of growth and what we could do to increase growth as individuals and also as a group.
We started by discussing ideas for a promotional video with the aim to help increase the profile of the group while at the same time raising hope for others who have found themselves to be in such a sad and lonely place. While discussing ideas for the video group members talked about the benefits of attending the group and how it would be good to reflect this in the video. Below are some of the things they get from attending the group;
“Safe boundaries to share experiences”
“Male and female attendees”
“We have a laugh!”
“I Feel valued”
“I Can be honest”
“Relaxed space for everyone to contribute”
“I’m not judged”
“Lunch at the end”
“A helpful lighthearted approach to serious issues”
“A sense of camaraderie”.
As today was all about growth it seemed really appropriate to plant some seeds in pots and monitor how they change and develop over time. This seemed a good way to conclude today’s session as we can look at the planting of seeds as a metaphor for promoting change and growth in our own lives.