The second part of Beccy’s blog series about getting involved in your own care, about trying something new and learning from different experiences and perspectives.
Learning to walk
Taking a risk and trying something new is difficult as we don’t know what will happen, or whether we will be heard and understood. First steps of babies are wobbly with bumps and falls along the way but they get up and try again, and it’s important for the parents not to rush to rescue them but encourage them to keep going. Through trial and error, sooner or later that baby gains confidence and starts to walk and explore their environment learning what works and what doesn’t.
We’re not babies but the same behaviours and needs are carried through our lives. Maybe that support was not given to us or the people around us failed to give us the right support. We all have mixed experiences, both good and bad, that shape how we cope with life and learn to navigate our way around. These have ultimately led us to where we are today. Now is the time to try and learn new coping skills and ways of behaving to get what we need.
As I wrote at the end of part one, working together leads to big changes and a shared experience that can bring huge benefits to our personal journeys. Sharing our experiences is not only good for us but good for others to hear and relate to, as well as to learn other perspectives and ideas. If we all believed the same thing life would be pretty boring. Having different beliefs, ideas and stand points is a huge part of how we learn and grow. Being able to understand someone else’s point of view helps us to see that there are other ways and beliefs that are just as valid as our own. Learning to respect others’ rights to have different opinions and letting them express them in a positive way is how we feel validated and accepted. If we don’t allow each other to express opinions and beliefs we fail to learn and grow, changing how we see the world around us and developing new knowledge and understanding. This can lead to extreme behaviours, acting out or other negative coping strategies in our wish to be heard.
The services we attend in the network can give us those opportunities. By sharing our experiences with each other we learn that we are not alone and actually have more in common than we realise. Accepting each other as we are validates us and leads to more positive behaviours.
Getting involved and taking part in conversations, surveys, newsletters, common rooms is another way to make sure our views and experiences are heard. Change can only happen when people know what needs to change. These are all another step-in service user involvement. Writing our experiences of services lets others know what to expect when they come to the network, what works and what doesn’t, helps staff make changes in their interactions with us. Give it a try you may be surprised by what happens.