Beyond Best Intentions

Monday September 9, 2019

I'm told that the pathway to hell is paved with good intentions. That's putting intentions in a bad light. I believe intentions are the essential starting point. Living a worthwhile life begins with being 'intentional' – which is deliberate and purposeful. Intentions can truly be good.

However, we always need to move beyond intentions to appropriate action. Yesterday, I witnessed a public display of solidarity that was heart-warming, at least at the intentional level. At a business meeting, of all places, a colleague shared with the room his battle with depression. What he did differently was to ask those of us who were suffering, or had suffered in a similar way, to stand.

More than 25% of the room stood, bearing out the 1 in 4 statistic we hear about when it comes to knowing how many of us face this torment. What happened next was even more astonishing. He asked those seated to stand if they were committed to listening to others who were going through depression.

Everyone stood.

The cynic in me would suggest peer pressure played a part, but it was a dramatic demonstration of intentional commitment! The presenter's call to action was two-fold: that those who feel depressed need to talk, and that those who are prepared to support need to listen. I am in complete agreement if we add a third step.

The deeper truth highlights a far more profound need – a need for education that leads to appropriate action. The month before, in that very same room, with the same network, one of the members approached two other attendees and opened up. They frankly shared that they were considering ending their life that day. Both people who 'listened' and then laughed. It wasn't callous laughter – they just didn't know how to respond. Also, it was way outside their perception of the person who shared – a normally bubbly, energetic, effervescent character... but that's enough about me!

I've just got off the phone with one of them. When they became aware of the gravity of the situation, they were mortified and called to apologise. It was a powerful conversation and one that has only strengthened our growing friendship. The truth is, though, that neither of us know what to do. My learning gained from this is that we all need to take any mention of suicide seriously – especially if it seems incongruent with the person. We also need help to understand how best to respond. We need education – that is, if we want to play a supporting role in bringing about positive transformation.

At our networking meeting, we are now considering some Mental First Aid Training so that a number of members can be available for those in pain. This, I believe, is a powerful next step in ensuring the road to heaven on earth is paved with good intentions and some positive direction around the right steps to take next!

A Moodscope member.

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