Being A Champion
One of my favourite songs is The Champion by Carrie Underwood. There is a reason it resonates with me. I want to be a champion in the mental health field but also help others find their own voices. I know that is my calling for the future and I’m not ashamed to admit I dream of being able to help more and more people as I go forward. My fear is this sounds somewhat egotistical but I don’t mean it to be. There is an element of “rush” I do get when I speak to people and every time I hit the publish button on a new blog I feel it.
Everyone who is battling something is a champion in my opinion. Life gives us incredible hits along the way and navigating your path through them, surviving them, is something each and every person should be proud of. I want people to feel that pride in themselves. I want to remind them that they can get through things that feel beyond repair. My life has always been about helping others but there is an important lesson I have learned in all that.
Helping people doesn’t mean that you do it for them. I had to learn this the hard way many times. I would always jump in and try to fix things…..still do sometimes. In early January of 2020 one of my co-workers passed away unexpectedly and it was heartbreaking for his family, friends, and us as a team. I was already in a place with my illness that wasn’t great, having been hospitalized just a month before with a mental health crisis. So old patterns emerged, and I caught myself so many times needing something to do. I had to find some kind of distraction and control in order to get through the pain. This was noticed by others and definitely an annoyance to some. I knew it but couldn’t help myself. What I wish I had done a better job at was taking the time to just listen and provide the support our co-workers needed. None of this can be changed and I know that I did the best I could under the circumstances I was presented with. But it did give me some powerful insights and reminders of what is most helpful to people dealing with tough situations.
The most important thing we can do is empower others to do things for themselves. Creating a dependency does no one any good and can add to the disabling effects of mental illness. This is not to say that there are times when folks don’t need some help and for you to step in to assist. What is important in that is finding a balance between being the helper and being an enabler. It’s not a clear and easy line to find. I worked with people with developmental disabilities for years and loved it. But I learned to remove myself from certain situations because I knew I would step in to fix things when the most important piece was supporting people to do it themselves. Getting clients dressed was one of them. If someone could do it themselves but struggled, I would jump in and help. What I learned over the years was to sit back, wait for a request for assistance, and provide encouragement for them to do what they could on their own. I use that example a lot.
Being a champion for others means providing the support and encouragement needed to help them see this in themselves. That is what is most empowering. Sure, I could jump in all the time and try to be the fixer, but that doesn’t give anyone the chance to build the skills and tools they need that work for them. I want people to find their own power, their own tools, their own resilience, and be their own champion. What I can do, and we all can do, is be a guiding light to others on their journeys and provide a gentle guiding hand that may be needed. Remember fellow warriors, we are all champions!