Communication is about sharing ideas. There are so many ways to communicate – from a simple nod or smile to an elaborate series of conversations in your life, or even an online blog. In many ways, this is how we learn to survive and develop a good quality of life. This is the objective. Unfortunately, some efforts to share ideas never get past square one. Likewise, receiving messages and developing a useful interpretation of the information sent – is not always assured. Whether you struggle with mental illness or not: communication strategies that overcome these barriers can be developed to promote mental health, goal-achievement, and a better quality of life.
When I think about communication and effective sharing of ideas, the first thing that I find necessary to consider is my goals. Basically: What is my personal mission statement – my main goals in life? It is important at some point to give this very serious thought. If you are already aware of what you would aim for in most settings, it may only take a few seconds to relate this to your own current experience. For other people, trying to describe this might take days to formulate – perhaps even years! Many people don’t give it a second thought, have never been asked, or don’t have any need to put it into words.
What is my main goal in life? Health? Community? Family? For some people top goals might be money, travel, or just an even flow philosophy. Freud might say, ‘Sex’. Clearly biological needs, including sex, eating, sleep and exercise could be main goals. It could be a collection of these drives and aspirations, but once I have a strong idea about my main goals, I am more prepared to express any idea that I hope to convey. This is about what I stand for. Whether I am reaching out with a complex view that I hold, or just asking someone what time it is – I work at expressing myself in a way that reflects the goals that I have established. For example, my communication, in my opinion, should always be directed towards mental health. Even if I am making small talk, I talk with a tone and attitude that I direct to good health, which includes my mental health, and goes on to include that of those around me. Often this just means being pleasant, respectful and only venturing into controversy when I have adequate support and reason. I try to engage in discussions, for a total net benefit. In general, that is what I stand for. At some times, my focus might be slightly different: For example, I may want to promote the value of music, or work on getting full-time employment and education. Still the ‘mission statement’ about promoting mental health is going to be evident in whatever I communicate. So: in knowing how and what to communicate – Start with your mission statement, what you stand for, and what you want to get across, share or learn.
Finding courage to go for your goals is another story. This can be the biggest hurdle in getting your message across. I think that often you have to look at it like: Nothing ventured – nothing gained. In many scenarios, just being polite and assertive will assure that your message will at least be received. There is no harm in expressing yourself if you are not interfering with others, and you are not getting yourself in trouble. That is a great reason to get out there. You have nothing to lose.
Beyond that, there is a point where you may have to cross a line to get your message through. In my opinion, first and foremost, it is important to be reasonable. Evaluate the impact of your potential communication. Does the net value of achieving your goals surpass the chance of your message being temporarily unwanted, disturbing or even superficially harmful? The truth is that at some times, people are just going to disagree with you, or feel some hurt from what you express. This needs to be assessed. Is there a chance that you can create a greater value behind your message – to help you achieve your goals, but also be more acceptable to all of your contacts? Goal-pursuit is of huge importance, but in any of this expression, it is also important to consider what is permissible, what is reasonable and how far can we take it without crossing the line. Still you may consider: what is the ‘line’ and when is it permissible to cross it? The ‘line’ is a certain boundary. It could be the point when you make someone’s emotion change, or the point that you are taking a risk. While at some point it is good to change emotions (It is a part of making a message memorable), yours and your contacts’ well-being should come first; Even if you get your message across, potential unwanted consequences and bad feedback could cancel any advances that the initial communication gained. We must work to stay safe, and be considerate of others’ situations in all cases. Questions that we may consider could be: Are we comfortable? Are our contacts comfortable? Are we making progress in a way that will promote the goals that we strive for?
The next big thing is time and place – and who do you communicate with? The mission statement is number one here too. Communicate with people, in a time and place that can help in your goals. If health is in your mission, communicating to help others can fall under your umbrella too. Similarly, you need to put your antennae up, and be alert for messages that may affect you – especially those that involve your main goals. Who we talk to, and where and when, may seems obvious to you. We communicate in our comfort zone. Sometimes we need to step out of this and push our courage. If you have a good message, you should be able to take it anywhere. Pay attention when it seems to matter most to you, and jump in when you have your ideas well-formulated. How others understand your message, and also how you interpret information – can have a direct impact on your confidence, and your success in achieving your goals. Keep it simple. Look for answers and messages that are clear and useful. It also seems to help to look for ideas that are easy to memorize. Above all: Find inspiration! This will often help determine how our most important communications will develop.
Communication is part of goal-pursuit that can involve a person and her or his contacts. A calm, optimistic approach is often more effective than a frantic or gloomy approach. To find the inspiration to move forward, and express yourself: You just need to find your motivation and mission. The rest will just play out, while you steer your own way. There are some easy ways to have yourself noticed nowadays. When the internet can reach almost anyone – communication can be a very easy to access, powerful way of achieving goals. It is important to take care, but when you have a clear message in your goals – push your courage. As far as improving mental health – in my opinion, goal achievement and confident communications help improve stability. As part of a healthy lifestyle, decent communications and managed goal-pursuit can definitely help maintain and improve your quality of life. Be brave. If you have a good message, sharing it can make a world of difference.