Updated: Sep 18
When it comes to accountability, that can mean a thousand and one things, but today we are going to talk about the importance of the people around you and the role we all play in keeping each other going and keeping you on track with your goals.
Sometimes your friends can be helping you stay focused on the good things without them even realising they’re doing it, which I will discuss more further down.
However, you can intentionally set out to be accountable for each other as a group, which is something I really encourage you to do as a group if you struggle with poor self-esteem. My friends and I had a rather in depth and honest discussion about how we find it so easy to see the positives in each other and praise the good over the bad but we struggle to give ourselves the same compassion.
Demi Lovato has a wonderful lyric in her new song “I Love Me” which I adore and you should have a listen if you get a chance because the words are everything;
“'Cause I'm a black belt when I'm beating up on myself, But I'm an expert at giving love to somebody else”
How many of us can relate to that?! It’s like the words were picked from my brain, I tell you!
We decided to make the most of our kindness to each other and we set up a group on WhatsApp to give us a team to be accountable for. To get into the ‘challenge mindset’ we set a personal goal of upping our water intake from the day before going forwards. There wasn’t a number we had to hit to complete it as this sometimes can feel unattainable and like a failure before you’ve started, you just had to try and improve on the day before. We shared images of water bottles and a big thumbs up to show we were on it and encouraged each other with discussing the benefits of drinking more water.
Hopefully this group will continue to have small personal goals that we can achieve as a team with the help of each other going forwards. You could use this format for many different goals. It might be a project with your work colleagues, a fitness challenge, health challenge, sleep challenge, gratitude challenge, the list is endless.
The main thing you need to look at is that the content in the group is positive. I often see ‘inspirational’ posts on social media which still hold a space for negativity. For example; “Negative people need drama like oxygen. Stay positive, it will take their breath away.” While the message is ultimately to remain positive, the suggestion of doing it for the effect on a negative person is not needed. A quote saying “Positive Minds, Positive Vibes, Positive Lives” is a post that encourages a higher vibration as it’s not connected to anything negative. It’s what I would describe as something with a purer intent behind it. Look out for them and you’ll start to notice the difference.
So, going back to the earlier point of your friends helping you without realising, I wanted to tell you about something that changed my life and they probably don’t even realise it.
I was going through a particularly bad dip in my depression leading up to the Christmas of 2018. I was really struggling to see the point or need of a future and had decided to make it through to the following and August and that would be it for me.
Why August? I had students that I wanted to make sure got their results and I didn’t want anything to affect their progress because I didn’t want to affect their mental health by causing that loss and my work is also how I validate myself (I know I still have issues, knowing is half the battle).
I thought; they’d be finished in July and maybe I felt this way because of the stress and being constantly tired (not sleep tired, life tired). The rational side of me thought I’ll give myself a month after I finish work to see if my mood changes, even though I know my depression is much worse when I’m not working because I struggle with finding with my purpose.
Anyway, my friends Beth and Josh, had started inviting me round a lot just to watch films, chill out like friends do. What they probably didn’t realise is that other than work and seeing my immediate family, I wasn’t really leaving the house. The thought of doing anything was exhausting to me, but they just had the perfect balance of encouraging me to do things without me feeling pressure. Again, they didn’t know they were doing it, but that’s how it started.
Having a meal out with Beth, we giggled when we realised we answered the server at exactly the same time, with the exact same words and inflections. “How’s your food?” we replied “Lovely, thank you” From there our monthly #LovelyThankYou tour was born. We came up with a plan of 12 new restaurants for us to visit the following year once a month. What this meant was:
1. I had a new place to go to each month which was scary as it was out of my comfort zone, but a positive as it was a new experience.
2. An amount of time to rest and recharge in between visits but not too long that my confidence to go out had disappeared.
3. The same person who I could be 100% myself around made me feel incredibly safe.
For many months this was my only other trip out of my home (other than work & family), Beth probably didn’t know this but I honestly think she saved my life. By the end of July, I had finished the school year but I’d found that new experiences made me feel better once I pushed through, my mood was much more stable and I felt like there was a purpose to it all. After our last outing in December 2019, I genuinely felt proud that we’d made that commitment to do it once a month and honoured it.
I reflected on the outings and realised just how much it had meant to me and really had changed my life. I can’t thank them enough for their friendship and will forever be grateful to have them in my life.
The scary thing about this I that if you asked most people who know me what kind of person I am they would never say a severely depressed person because I give of the impression of someone who wouldn’t be out of place as Princess Poppy in the films Trolls, all rainbows, glitter and hugs. I was a performer up on the stage for years, costumes, faking confidence, but inside my mind was always telling me I was not worth the air I breathed.
The positive cartoon version of me isn’t a complete act, it’s the person who I am constantly aspiring to be and the person I encourage everyone to work towards, but what I’m saying is there are probably many people in your life based on the statistics out there that struggle with these feelings but don’t let others know.
I love that since launching Happy Thoughts Academy I feel people have been more open with me about their mental health which has allowed me to be more open in return, but I will still never show anyone just how bad it gets because it’s the nature of the beast unfortunately.
Don’t ever under estimate how much a text to a friend can mean, how much a thought can make someone’s day, maybe even save a life. Accountability for each other is friendship and friendship is what makes the world that little bit easier to cope with. So send that message today and spread that joy.