Yesterday morning, in my capacity as a listening volunteer for the Samaritans, I assisted in giving a talk at Venning Barracks, Donnington for their Mental Health Awareness day.
WO2 Payne had coordinated a great line up covering substance misuse, mindfulness, gambling, suicide and the support available in the wider community through the Shropshire Armed Forces Outreach hub.
As I watched the other speakers two words jumped out at me as they are so key to the coaching process, let me explain why after a brief overview of the days proceedings.
First up was Vanessa Carter of Grey Box UK Ltd– WOW, what an amazing woman. She really knew her stuff and delivered a lot of information in a very funny yet thought provoking and engaging way, I would thoroughly recommend her.
I couldn’t possibly convey all the goodness that she delivered in a few lines of a blog post so I’m not going to try but the message for me which really stood out close to the start of the talk was
‘People take drugs to change the way they FEEL.’
This was then followed by a lot of information not only about the different drugs we can misuse, how they are made, what they do and how they do it with the resulting side effects but also about our natural ways of feeling good such as hitting targets (my line of business,) love, sex, adrenaline, testosterone and the dopamine and serotonin etc that our body releases.
Like I said, too much information for me to go into and I wouldn’t be able to deliver it half as well as Vanessa but if you do one thing from reading this post please go and Google ‘Gordon Ramsey how cocaine is made’ and it will hopefully put you off considering ever taking it forever!!
Next was Cynthia from ‘Find Happiness In You.’ Talking all about mindfulness.
She explained how her tough no nonsense attitude had only managed to take her so far and how she had even scoffed at the concept of her sister having postnatal depression.
When Cynthia was going through a divorce and was pregnant with her third child she even went as far as setting herself a timer for 5 minutes of crying before brushing herself off to face life head on.
Unfortunately this strategy only worked temporarily and in the long run worked against her. She too found herself in the depths of depression with what she felt was simply unexplained and uncontrollable crying as a symptom. Medical intervention would not be available for six months after her diagnosis.
Thankfully she found sanctuary in a local wood. Noticing the difference when she took herself off for a piece of peace she began her somewhat reluctant and sceptical journey into meditation and mindfulness. Clearly it was worth it as she teaches and runs workshops in mindfulness now.
My key takeaway from her talk was spending time in ‘quiet observation without JUDGEMENT.’
Mick and I were next up talking about the Samaritans and the work being done behind the scenes to create a suite of military community specific services. If you’d like to know more about the Samaritans and the work we do then your local branch will have an outreach team who could visit your place of work. Military specific information can be found here https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/military/
For me, the main points I always aspire to get across about the Samaritans though is that we are #thereforeveryone! You don’t have to be suicidal to call, in fact it would be much better if you call before you get to that point.
Although we do signpost to other organisations we don’t give advice, we are there to listen to your feelings, to help you explore your feelings and hopefully help you get them in check before they overrun you but most importantly we are non judgemental, it is a safe place to talk. Talking really does help you get your thoughts and feeling straight.
Despite the name, Samaritans are a non Christian charity. The freephone number 116 123 is operational 24/7 365 days of the year and won’t show on your bill. All calls are confidential unless in very specific circumstances but essentially a volunteer will not be able to see your contact details. You can text, email and even still write to the Samaritans. Non of the volunteers are paid to be there, we listen because we care.
I have no doubt that the training I received to become a listening volunteer for the Samaritans has made me a better person.
Next was Justyn Larcombe but sadly he couldn’t join us at the last minute. I would thoroughly recommend checking out his TEDx talk about how his gambling addiction temporarily ruined his life here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AN3VLLlkdI
Last but not least we had Sarah and Sandy from the Shropshire Armed Forces Outreach centre talking about the services they can offer not only to veterans and service personnel but to their families too. Concerns such as schools not knowing how to effectively use the service pupil premium funding wisely to asking your GP if your notes are up to date with the correct code to indicate you are a veteran and may be in need of additional support. They really are bringing together the people who can help so each person gets the assistance they need in every area of their life utilising all the different charities for all the different issues.
It was interesting to take on board that not all service leavers, especially young service leavers, identify as being a veteran. Somehow the word seems only suitable for Chelsea Pensioners and World War veterans in their minds but that’s not to say they don’t need support. Having the right environment and community to surround them is an essential part of a more peaceful transition into civvy street. After all, if you have spent most of your life behind the wire how could you possibly know the nuances of utility bills, prescription charges and dentists fees etc?
So going back to those two words that stuck out for me today. Feelings and judgement.
These words are so important from a coaching point of view because everything we do, we do to make us feel something. Buying new clothes, eating sugary food, skydiving etc all generate a feeling. But have you stopped to think about how you want to feel on a daily basis? And is it ok to want to feel like that? When you think of that feeling, are you worrying that others may judge you for wanting it? Are you judging yourself for wanting it?
Somewhere in your subconscious you may be running a script which is telling you that you don’t deserve to feel happy, accomplished, powerful, whatever it may be for you. At some point in your life you may have been conditioned by an experience or the opinions of others to think badly of wanting more money or even not wanting to be part of the rat race. All of that could in turn sabotaging your efforts to get from A to B.
If that sounds like you then please do get in touch, I’d love to work through this with you and get you on the road to what true success means for YOU.