In the years that I’ve been working with people either directly in therapy or teaching mindfulness groups, I have been fortunate enough to witness some wonderful transitions. However, most of us think that’s where therapy ends, and one of the secrets to not only maintaining mental health, but continuing to thrive is by giving back and helping others.
This is what often gets forgotten, but Jeff Bell, author of many books, including Rewind Replay Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, has an answer that makes this opportunity easy to access.
Adversity 2 Advocacy (A2A) was created to help people find a path to not only get informed about mental health issues, but even more so to help others share their stories and give back. The fact is, we are social animals and motivation and hope for many of us comes from connecting to others and hearing their stories.
For years I’ve been advising people to find a path to help others through their transformations because it’s well known in the mental health field and in all the world’s wisdom traditions that service to others in some way is a key component to feeling well.
Because when we give back to people it not only inspires hope in them, but inspires a sense of a common connection among us all. Mother Theresa once said,
“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging.”
When we provide hope to others it can’t help but cultivate a sense of belonging which is at the core of feeling well. When we feel like we belong, we’re more resilient.
In a day and age where mental health continues to carry a stigma that feeds a sense of shame, in my mind what A2A is doing is creating a sense of belonging and hope and I can’t help but support that.
Right now you can choose to:
My suggestion is to set any judgments aside and get involved as an experiment, without expectations and allow your experience of how you feel to be your teacher.
A wonderful resource to us all!
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Rock climber photo available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 3 Apr 2012