I’ve had a very hard time starting this blog. I’ve written and rewritten the opening paragraph maybe half a dozen times now, and nothing seems to come across right. We’ve all stared blankly at a screen or page wondering where to start, or how to continue, or even just how to finish off something. Essays, homework, maybe even just letters or texts to friends, families or colleagues.
Learning how to express one’s thoughts or feelings properly is a difficult skill to learn, one that requires years of practice. I like to think to think it’s something I’ve got a bit of talent for, but I didn’t always feel like that. For the longest time I truly believed myself to be devoid of any skills or talents. It took being asked to join Boys in Mind, to lend my skills, insight and time to the cause to show me that, like all people, I had talents all of my own.
One thing working with Boys In Mind has taught me, sharing my experiences and listening to the experiences of others, is that a little compassion can go a long way. Learning to put yourselves in other’s places, to see the world how they see it, to feel what they feel is an invaluable skill. But that same compassion is vital when looking inwards too. Far too often we are harsh when comparing ourselves to others, holding ourselves to standards we would never apply to anyone else.
But in a world of high-speed internet and mass media it’s more important than ever to remember : the only person you should be comparing yourself to is your former self. We can be our own worst critics, but sometimes our perceptions can play tricks on us. We’re not always as useless, unskilled or talentless as we believe ourselves to be.
When we open our hearts to others, when we endeavour to understand them and connect to them as friends, family, lovers, we should take the time to first open up to ourselves. Showing compassion to yourself is the first step to showing compassion to others, and true compassion is vital if we’re to build a better society.
Of course being critical of one’s actions is important. We have to always be aware of what we say and do. But being self-deprecating only serves to blind you to the reality that you can do great things, if you’re willing to listen to and trust those that care about you.
As we go forward into this holiday season, a time that can be very difficult for many of us who suffer from depression or other mental health issues, remember to surround yourself with those that love and support you, and in turn reach out to those you care about. Everyone has their fair share of difficulties, and by opening up to others and ourselves we can connect and share our burdens.
Boys in Mind is just one of the ways I connect with my community, and I invite you to connect with your community this year too. Open yourself up to new connections, renew older ones, and most importantly, take time to connect with yourself. Take it easy this year, give yourself a break. You’re doing your best.