Do you ever wonder if you make a difference? I do.
Some days I wonder if I am doing anything useful at all, adding value, doing any good …
Some days I just think … What’s the point?
I can spend the day meaning well and working hard … and then make that classical error of looking at the news, with its own brand of horror stories, or listening to people complain about their lot or watching as people pointedly ignore those they feel as unworthy of their time, or slipping into that negative mode.
And that’s when I wonder, because I do try to see the good in everyone and I do try to bring out the good in myself, and I know that I fail in that sometimes. Everyone does … we are all just human, after all.
I had that experience recently, when I spectacularly failed in bringing out the good in myself. I didn’t mean to … I never mean to … but it happened and in the process I hurt someone I love. Not for the first time and unfortunately, probably not the last. We do tend to hurt those closest to us the most – and the most often. At the same time we often hurt ourselves, which can make it harder to find the good and bring it out.
So here I was, having one of those times where I wondered whether I was useful at all in what I do. I mean, I spend a significant amount of my time working with others to build mentally healthy cultures, where people feel safe, protected, valued, loved … only to come home and promptly forget all that I have been talking about and working towards during the day.
Is this what is happening with the people we are training?
It is easy to sit in a course and discuss ways to improve mental health, but how does this translate in the real world?
Luckily for me, I have been contacted by those that Mental Strides has worked with and it is always an uplifting, reaffirming experience. It also reminds me that I don’t know what happens when people leave the room, unless they tell me of course. To be honest, I also don’t know what is happening for some people in the room.
So getting an email or a phone call, or having a positive conversation with someone we have worked with, brings that reassurance that most of us crave.
Over the past few months this has happened quite a few times, with people letting me know how they have recognised someone was in trouble and have been able to help them. A work colleague not travelling well, a client having suicidal thoughts, a sister acting unusually, personal boundaries that are not in place. Each person has told me that through us, they have the built skills and confidence to make a difference to those closest to them.
Aaaah … this is why I do this. This is the value. This is the point.
As to my own circumstance? Well I know that whilst the good in me ebbs and flows, it is always there and, like all the other good in the world, it is making a difference.
About the Author
Engel Prendergast is a Mental Health Consultant, working with organisations and groups to build a culture that supports good mental health.
Engel is an accredited Mental Health First Aid and safeTALK Instructor, and Lifeline Crisis Supporter and Mentor. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Health Promotion), Diploma of Counselling, and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
With natural compassion, a determination to help others and extensive experience in training and facilitation, Engel provides an environment that fosters learning and ownership.