7 Principles of Recovery: No 1 - HOPE and OPTIMISM
There IS an opportunity in every crisis. The smallest belief can empower the recovery process. As a family member, friend, carer, colleague or peer support worker we can help another carry their hope and optimism until they can do it for themselves.
So what is HOPE and OPTIMISM?
It’s subjective to each individual, for me: HOPE is the desire, the dream of a person, while OPTIMISM is the confidence and positive attitude in a person to succeed.
Here are some other examples my friends with lived experience recently shared on my Facebook page when I asked what HOPE and OPTIMISIM meant to them:
‘Hope to me was identifying that I was not alone, people before me had fallen much deeper and harder into darkness and yet they had survived and were bravely sharing their story to help me and help others. Optimism was me acknowledging the importance of Personal Resilience and how I could fill my own Personal Resilience suitcase to help me survive and help others.’
‘Hope to me is the feeling when you have something to look forward to. Optimism is having the courage to find something positive in each scenario you face; being able to identify the silver linings even when it would be so much easier to seek out and identify the negativity.’
‘Hope to me is the clear sunny day after the storm has passed, Optimism is for me the seeing the good in all situations and providing hope to those who can’t see what you see.’
‘Hope is the tiny “but what if?...” even in our darkest hour and in the depths of despair. Optimism is knowing to look for it.’
‘It means the opportunity to grow from an experience; to do and be better. It’s the spark in your heart that can never be extinguished no matter how trying circumstances get!’
‘Hope is a far away dream, optimism is the realisation that the dream will be fulfilled.’
‘Hope is a place I often dream about and strive to achieve and stay focused on (my North star) goals and aspirations. Optimism is the positivity I have that one day on this journey I will get there.’
‘Hope: An underlying belief that things will work out how you expect them to. A belief based on feelings rather than actions. Optimism: Positive outlook regardless of the odds.’
‘Whether your HOPE in life is to be happier, to find your soul mate, to rid your debts, to start a family, to become a professional, to complete Uni, to lose weight, to get off drugs or to run a marathon mix it with OPTIMISM, make a pan, take action and you CAN go and achieve anything!’
Therefore when helping someone living with a mental health condition it stands to reason that a environment that uses appropriate recovery-oriented language, will communicate positive expectations, that will promote the belief in a person of feeling valued, with a sense of belonging while in a safe place to recover.
Through greater understanding and education; support services, family members, friends and colleagues can make a significant contribution to a persons recovery journey by embedding and communicating a culture of hope and optimism with a person centred approach promoting the dignity of risk and self-determination.
Workplaces (private or public sector) can contribute to recovery outcomes by providing respectful, person-centred relationships, peer support practices and service environments that inspire hope and optimism. It is also my belief that in addition to offering employees, ongoing accredited physical first aid training, we should also be providing the opportunity to all workplace staff to undertake accredited Mental Health First Aid training.
As well as offering Mental Health First Aid Training to our workforces it’s my belief that companies and agencies should make it mandatory for senior and executive mangers to undertake Mental Health Training.
When management are trained in the identification and management of employees wellness it encourages a culture of HOPE and OPTIMISM; an openness about mental health issues, which in turn breaks down stigma and helps remove any actual and perceived barriers care.
Some of the characteristics that people living with mental health conditions can be a feeling of hopelessness, of self-worth, a lack of self-importance and belonging. We can help others by affirming a belief in a person’s ability to recover, to value and respect a person’s worth and their capacity to thrive and lead a purposeful life that contributes to society.
No matter how small, celebrate a person's recovery effort, perseverance and achievements. Whether this is a person managing to just get out of bed on a particular day or if a person reaches a significant goal they had set themselves, celebrating these wins big or small, can really fuel a persons ability to survive and thrive.
This is very important, because our modern society has evolved into culture that demands more from less, in an environment that often focuses on a person most recent mistake rather than in their inherent good.
Furthermore understanding that each human being is a rare and unique individual means their recovery needs and preferences will be just as unique and individual.
Allow and encourage a person to learn from others people with lived experience of mental health issues, in my personal experience, these people are some of the strongest, inspirational and motivational people I have met, and I have learned something from each and every one of them about HOPE and OPTIMISM.
One of the key skills to support a hopeful and optimistic recovery is communication, by promoting living a culture of open discussion and a positive lifestyle through realistic expectations and messages about recovery.
Some of you may be thinking: ‘It isn’t always that easy’, I agree. However, what I can say is, one of the most important steps and principles of recovery is acknowledging that the journey is ‘NON-LINEAR’ (this another of principles and will be covered I more detail in a future blog post). Some setbacks must be accepted as being an inevitable part of a longer-term recovery, just as they can be part of any physical illness or injury recovery journey.
Any setback should be seen as a positive learning opportunity to build strength and resilience. Just as the growth of a plant will be affected by the right balance of hydration, nutrients and sunshine, growth towards mental health fitness will depend on finding the right balance. It’s ok to fall, but try and fall forward.
To help build resilience and self-belief, remind and affirm a persons personal indicators and attributes as they reach to meet each goal they have set.
Hope is the spark
Optimism is the fuel
Positivity is the fire
Emotional stability can be the result
At the start of this blog I aid that we can (and should) carry HOPE and OPTIMISM for another until they can do it and determine that for themselves. While doing this we can try sharing successful recovery stories and making them available not just to those on a recovery journey and with lived experience, but also to their family members, colleagues and friends. There are numerous media avenues these can be shared such as: social media, webpages, e-newsletters, films, music, leaflets/brochures, newspapers (yes sometimes they do print good news stories), podcasts and, of course, awesome recovery blogs.
Not only will these provide guidance, important education, useful information they will inspire, motivate and help instil confidence in a person but also the strength to advocate for themselves as they thrive.
I’d like to sign off this week’s blog with a poem that I wrote a couple of months ago while presenting a Resilience and Recovery Roadshow around Western Australia:
Hand of Hope
Hold the hand of another, look them deep in their eyes;
Be their angel of hope, listen to their cries.
When all appears lost, and they share with you their pain;
No matter how tough, by their side you must remain.
Show love and compassion, a purpose to live;
Hugs on this mission to others we must give.
Hope is a healer, when given free from your heart;
Open your chest, allow it to pour out, let it be a gift, your passion and your art.
Helping others to heal, is humane and the right thing to do;
Through struggle comes strength, look in the mirror and start believing in you.