Letting Go!

Change begins with a choice and happens when you realize that you’re not a passive victim of life but you have the power to take responsibility for how you want it to turn out.

by Ketina Mugwisa

Have you ever noticed the impact of your thoughts on what you do?

The way we think shapes our responses to life. Our behavior follows what is in our minds, what we believe, and the way we evaluate events and problems. Our self-talk (internal monologue) largely shapes our emotions. Negative thoughts profoundly impact our moods and behavioral choices which impact our self-esteem. Thoughts and feelings combined make up a personal character. Reconstructing our thinking can change us for the better. Remember there is always someone who will sit and listen to your story in a nonjudgmental way and give you comfort and this should not go unappreciated.

Well! That was my personal experience when I first come to the university.

MY STORY

I hated varsity for almost three-quarters of my first semester there. I had been offered Psychology for undergrad studies instead of what I wanted, Social Work. I felt trapped, psychology didn’t resonate with me, I couldn’t see it in my life. I didn’t see a point in trying to believing that I could make it with a psychology degree. I refused to even research about it and lecturers sounded like Greek to me. If someone had asked me what psychology was all about, I couldn’t even explain until 2 weeks before end of semester exam. Can you imagine!

HOW IT ALL CHANGED

I first encountered the Friendship Bench on World Mental Health Day when they came to speak at my uni. I got a chance to talk to one of its members, Tiny, who showed me that psychology wasn’t so bad after all and that if I took time some time to reflect, the Greek would eventually make sense to me. After sharing with him what I was going through, he helped me understand and become aware of my own negative thoughts, and how I had been limiting myself with my own beliefs and cognitive distortions. He encouraged me to view life with an open mind just like psychology encourages us to do. And to try and replace my negative thought with more positive, noble, lovely, and admirable thoughts. He helped me realize that by making a choice to change how I viewed things it was giving me courage and strength a lesson I would later make a person mandate in my life, to always give things a chance!

Hand touching brain and network connection on glitter bright lights colorful background

PSYCHOLOGY AND THEOLOGY PLAYING OUT IN MY LIFE

I have always been a person of ‘Faith’ and faith has always helped me redirect from my own shortcomings and weakness and pointed me towards power that I never knew I possessed. As such the spiritual part of my experience is a viable source of inspiration and strength that has helped me attain a positive change in my life. As I began to give psychology a chance, I began to notice some subtle similarities between psychology and religious theology. I realized that although history has repeatedly pitted them against one another their message was the same, the only difference was the messenger. Looked at from an objective perspective religious behavior and religious belief are based on various models of human nature and many psychological concepts. Just like how psychology encourages people to feel good about themselves and become overwhelmed by emotions, such as fear, anger, guilt, or anxiety, religion promotes love, happiness and companionship, and above all something to believe in.

MAKE A CHOICE

The Creator, as I believe him to be, is said to have given us humans free will, the power of choice which enables us to choose the way we think and reason. You can’t control obstacles life sets for you, but you can control how you overcome them. Change begins with a choice and happens when you realize that you’re not a passive victim of life but you have the power to take responsibility for your own mental health by choosing to think positively. Life is a precious gift, you must cherish it and care for it and that also includes your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. If you feel under pressure, scared beyond measure, or lost close treasure only remember you are not defined by circumstances and you can’t limit yourself despite what people might say. You have the power to create a different story about yourself not as a victim but as a conqueror and by normalizing positive thinking, you normalize victory.

I would like to end by quoting William James regarded as the father of American Psychology’s life-changing words which say;

The greatest discovery of my generation is the fact that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

William James

It is never too late nor too early to change the way you think!

The Listening Bench, with Layman Human

LONDON, Battersea Park, near to the Peace Pagoda, Thursdays 10.30-1.30

BE A PART OF THE GLOBAL HEALING. Listening matters! Being heard means being seen and acknowledged, as humans we all need this to feel we belong in this world. More often than not, when people share their struggles they are not looking for someone to give them a solution or to fix the issue, they are merely looking to connect and let free the noise and turmoil whirling around within them. We can only survive for so long with a plastered smile and ‘I’m fine’ response, at some point it catches up.

If you’re in London, around Battersea Park, near to the Peace Pagoda, Thursdays 10.30-1.30, visit the Listening Bench! Read on to find out more… 🙂


Hello, my name is Stuart Frobisher. I’m also Layman Human, I’m a musician from London, UK, and I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute to the Friendship Bench Zimbabwe blog!

My background is that I am a pianist/singer-songwriter, I have taught music in Inner London schools for 22 years, I have practised Zen for 7 years, and I studied Humanistic Counselling Skills at Gestalt centre in London on a 1-year course. And I am a grandfather (not a grandmother, unfortunately).  I have learned and practised to listen, to hear people’s needs, and to empathise, not to analyse or dispense wisdom. People will find their own way if they are given space and support. There have been times in my life when that was what happened for me, and it was so important.

A few months ago I realised I wanted to start a Public Listening Service. I basically wanted to sit on a bench in a park, and if someone wants to talk, I will listen. I wanted to use what I seem to have learned from my life so far, which is: knowing that someone else cares and will hear me, can be enough to give me the strength to find my way. People have done it for me when I needed it, I have been lucky. I wanted to give it back. It seems like more and more people have no-one to talk to. They don’t necessarily need psychological intervention, just someone they can open up to, maybe to get a handle on their worries or problems.

I thought about some guidelines for myself, and wondered just how to get started. Then one night, my wife was listening to BBC Radio, and she heard about the amazing and powerful project of The Friendship Bench. When she told me about it in the morning, I said, that’s it! That’s exactly what I mean!

I wrote to everyone at the Friendship Bench to ask for some advice and support, and also to offer anything I could by way of help for them, if that was something that was possible. I was so moved when Dixon replied personally, within a day. Inspired by Dixon’s communications, and the further great support from Jean, I have been energised to see my idea through.

So last week was my second visit to the bench I have chosen as ‘The Listening Bench.’ It’s along the river Thames in Battersea Park, near to the Peace Pagoda. I go on Thursdays from 10.30 – 1.30.

Even though no-one has stopped yet, I am encouraged by the interest my sign is getting. I also made some cards for people to take. This is what is on the card:

I’m looking forward to a Listening Bench conversation, knowing that the evidence is all there from Friendship Bench Zimbabwe, that it really is good to talk. People are suffering in our city as everywhere, but there is also a great movement for healing. If I can be a small part of that healing, connecting with people and providing a way for people to be heard, I will be a happy man.

Thank you to all the Grandmothers and to Friendship Bench Zimbabwe for your inspiration and encouragement. Peace and Love!

Layman Human, Stuart Frobisher – The Listening Bench

Belonging

When we feel we belong, we can relax, because we know we are not alone in fighting for our survival, we are connected. And as we are part of others, others are part of us.

When we feel we belong, we can relax, because we know we are not alone in fighting for our survival, we are connected. And as we are part of others, others are part of us.

#WeNeedOthers #OthersNeedUs #Community

Community Volunteerting

For so long as we do nothing for others we are contributing to the undoing of ourselves.

When we already feel like there are not enough hours in the day and we just manage to survive on our pay cheques when the word ‘volunteer’ comes up we think “why on earth should I go and spend my only free time volunteering for nothing?”

Why… because the benefits of volunteering can be immeasurable. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community (maybe your own community), but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer.

Giving to others can help protect our mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.

LET’S BREAK IT DOWN

An ‘A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H’ list of why we should volunteer.

A LEARNING ROAD: If you choose to work in a community outside of your own you will learn different things about people, behaviours, cultures and more. Allowing yourself to be taught by people who come from a different background and who have different ideas to those you live by will lead to your personal and professional growth. These are lessons that can’t come out of text books, they must be lived at their root.

BUILD CONFIDENCE: Volunteering may allow you to try something new or perhaps discover some hidden talents. This can be a great self-esteem and confidence booster. Your role and contributions as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity, perhaps you will discover you have found a sense of belonging. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.

CONNECT: Volunteering in community activities is a great way to connect with those around you and meet new people. While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests. Once you have started to developed your self-confidence it’s easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts!

DEVELOP PURPOSE: When we do good for others it provides a natural sense of accomplishment which feeds into our sense of purpose, especially in times of depression or stress when we are wondering why we were put on this earth. It can boost your mood even on the toughest days. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add a new dimension to your life.

EXAMPLE ASSOCIATION: By giving back to the community, you are showing people, especially the younger generations, how volunteering makes a difference and how good it is physically, mentally and emotionally to give back. You can inspire your friends, children, students, or even a stranger by helping others and sharing the experience with them of why you do it.

FUN & FULFILMENT: No explanation necessary!

GAIN EXPERIENCE: If you’re considering a new career or are wondering what to study, volunteering can help you get experience in your area of interest and meet people in the field. If you are just launching into your work career and job hunting, volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organization. You might feel more comfortable stretching your wings at work once you’ve honed these skills in a volunteer position first.

HEALTHY MIND & BODY: Volunteering can help you both physically and mentally. Perhaps you spend the afternoon doing yard work for an elderly couple or you guide a student with their reading in the library, every good deed is beneficial. Volunteer activities can get you moving and thinking!

“Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.”

~Albert Schweitzer

THE EVIDENCE

There is lots of evidence that volunteering has a positive impact on health. We like this paper because it has examined the cumulative effects on multiple health outcomes in the general adult public (mental and physical health, life satisfaction, social well-being and depression).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504679/

Isn’t it a true happiness to help others? If you are struggling to answer this question then you need to discover this feeling for yourself.

If you are finding yourself in a rut and looking around waiting for change, take the initiative and be the change that you need, for so long as we do nothing for others we are contributing to the undoing of ourselves.


Blogging for Belonging, Community and Connection

There is an important story that needs to come through each of us…

“The only way a community can heal itself is to draw out the story coming through each individual. Only when we recognise the events of our lives, and of those who went before us, as leading us in a meaningful direction can we pick up the threads of our story in the present time and weave forward with common purpose.” [TOKO-PA TURNER]