I don't consider myself a motivational speaker, but I want to use this blog item to try and shake up the indolent slackers amongst us who have given up striving and forgotten the joys of achievement.
The reason that I've got a bee in my bonnet is that I've attended a few online meetings recently where the atmosphere has been depressingly negative.
"Why is it always the same people who are picked to do things"? they ask. "Why do I never have the opportunity to do something"? Negativity abounds it seems. "I've given up"! I hear people say..."What's the point"?
"They don't listen".
"They should be doing A, B and C, but they seem intent on doing D". "They" can be dementia charities, Councils, Healthcare Trusts, politicians - you name it - it's fair game for a good moan. I find it hard to put up with such negativity. It's a waste of time and effort and often simply an excuse for laziness. Don't tell ME tell THEM!!! Usually though, I bite my tongue and try to show by example that there are many ways that everyone living with dementia can help to shape change, and have a say in policy and direction at ALL levels, locally, nationally and internationally.
And I've been lucky enough to have met some people doing just that over the last few years since my diagnosis.
They continue to inspire and motivate me, and it is because of their example that I am determined to emulate them. At some of my peer group meetings (local and national) we introduce ourselves and say a little about what projects we are engaged in and what we have been doing recently.
It's interesting and uplifting to hear the worthwhile and interesting work that some of my online friends are involved in. Sadly, the good news can sometimes be watered down by negativity.
Indeed, I have even felt a little guilty recounting a few of the different projects that I have been contributing to lately because of the bad vibes. The reason I and others share what we are doing is to try and inspire others to do the same - To show them that even a klutz like me can still be useful. To illustrate that ANYONE can do it. Moan, moan, moan... It would be disingenuous of me to pretend that living with dementia is a bed of roses. New challenges are encountered along one's journey and coping strategies have to be worked out in order to try and maintain a semblance of normality - Sometimes it gets really difficult. An individual can feel dispirited, worthless, impotent. And this can lead to depression and worse.
People need wins.
Wins are good for one's self esteem and sense of worth. They provide a buzz and they are addictive. Once you've enjoyed a bit of success, you want more. What a tonic! Now it's time to talk about endeavour.
ENDEAVOUR: The act of attempting something.
Endeavour is simply the act of trying. Success doesn't always follow, but one thing's for certain, if you never enter the race, you'll never achieve the thrill of success.
If you're too timid to put your hand up, you'll never get picked.
Put yourself out there!
Don't wait for people to come knocking at your door... tilt at those windmills!
And I guess that's the heart of my message.
Think about the things you'd like to see changed, do your research and start writing letters and emails. You may find you are pushing on an open door. What's the worst that can happen?
You may not get a reply - be persistent.
You may find that your assumptions were incorrect - Hey! you learned something
You may be asked to give more information as a person with lived experience and have the opportunity to inform professionals and shape policy - Success!
One thing's for sure, your endeavours WILL be noticed and they WILL achieve results. And some of the by-products of your endeavours will be:
You will feel more valued
You will be kept busy
Your mind will stay sharper longer
You will be happier and more content
You will meet some wonderful people
You will gain new insights into your condition
You may find that your metaphorical glass is more often half full than half empty 🙂.
Just do what you are comfortable with, but make yourself known. You will find there is a world of support out there. People who value your opinion but didn't know how to find you.
I'm not too sure how to wrap this post up tidily, but here's a thought... Even my endeavours on this humble blog have borne fruit. People living with dementia or their carers occasionally contact me to offer encouragement and support or to put me straight when I have written something they disagree with. They generously share their own stories, and I've learned so much from them. Every now and then an academic will make contact to comment on something I've said or to ask me for an online chat about one dementia-related topic or another, or to speak at an event or on a panel - what a delight! Proof again that one's endeavours sometimes are well worth the effort. I am on the slippery slope of dementia, but I won't waste a single shred of the intellect I still retain in bemoaning all that is wrong with the world of dementia. I will use every spare moment to lobby, participate fundraise and evangelise.
What better way to spend the time I have left?