Melanie Dales

Hi, I am Melanie, and I offer a very warm welcome to all of those who are taking your very precious time out to read what I have to say. I must confess, that as a true technophobe, this is my very first attempt at blogging, so PLEASE, be kind, and be patient, and live in the hope that my attempts will improve with practice! (No pressure there then!!!!) I could so easily ask myself WHY on earth am I even doing this? Can I not just be content with my already hectic, if not manic, work schedule? It would seem not, and actually, if I am totally honest with both myself and my readers, I am very much relishing the prospect of this new challenge that I have apparently committed myself to! Why? After a great deal of consideration and reflection, I have realised that I am a bit of an idealist, if such a thing exists, and I have this insane desire to reach as many people as I can and change our current way of ‘being’! A bit of a cliché, I am fully aware, but I want our world to be a way happier and more content place in which to be, and if I can be just a tiny cog in the wheel that makes that happen then bring it on! As a successful Psychotherapeutic Counsellor in private practice (The Therapy Temple) I would like to think that I already go some small way to making that happen, however, as with most things, there is always more that can be done, hence my excitement at joining The Feel Good Initiative!

The Feel Good Initiative has been founded by a young Yorkshireman, Connor Smith, in whom I have extraordinary faith…he has battled through his own, often intense, issues surrounding his mental health, to emerge as an unstoppable force who I believe will go on to achieve great things in life…things that throughout the course of his life, and beyond, will touch the hearts and minds of many. That kind of strength and determination can only be admired, and admire him I do!

So what is this ‘Initiative’ about? It’s about reaching out to as many people as we possibly can and sharing with them the art of successful ‘being’. A simple enough goal we might think, but first we need to trudge through what appears to be an endless mire of societal expectations that are consistently forced upon us on a daily basis! We are living in a world where we are led to believe that in order to be considered ‘successful’ we must jump through a series of almost impossible hoops! We are given from a very young age a series of ‘right’ ways of being, and these ‘right’ ways of being are defined by an endless list of ‘must have’s’.

To summarise these ‘necessities’, we are talking the house, the cars, the clothing, the education, the technology, the holidays, and perhaps worst of all, the physical appearance! The message we are given just about every single day of our lives is ‘Come on, keep up!’, and our perception of that message is often that we will NEVER be able to achieve ANY of this in our three score years and ten (or whatever our average life expectancy may be these days!) Of course, we all endeavour to keep up, and of course, ideally, we all need a roof over our heads, food on our table, a means of transport, and a way in which to cover our less than perfect skin (when it comes to dressing, loin cloths apparently, and thankfully, just don’t cut it anymore!)

The question is though, do we REALLY need to go to the lengths that we do to acquire more and more material possessions? Still however we try…and ultimately our hot pursuit of all things material results in a whole load of stress, anxiety, depression, and ultimately, no matter how much we achieve, we are all too often caught in the trap of feeling inadequate and that we willnever quite be enough! I know this, because even the most wealthy and beautiful of my clients are not immune to issues surrounding their self-esteem and confidence, and that is sad, and what is even more sad is that the children and young people I work with are already painfully aware of a sense of inadequacy…the prospect of achieving the seemingly impossible has effectively exhausted their young minds before they have even begun!

Does it go without saying that social media is playing a HUGE role in our rapidly declining sense of self? I’m sure many will disagree, but equally I am guessing there are whole swathes of people nodding in agreeance! Please don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely against our modern means of connecting with other members of the human race, but MUST we use it as a platform from which we can make so much negative comparison against our own apparently inadequate ways of being? How I wish this wasn’t so often the case! It all sounds so doom and gloom, but please take heart, it is never too late to make changes, and make changes we will, because I am convinced that we have become overly familiar with stress, anxiety and depression, and are unwittingly creating some pretty undesirable futures for ourselves.

Let us consider where the average adult spends the majority of their waking hours…yes, at work! It is our only means, (other than criminal activity, which fortunately most of us are able to avoid!) of acquiring the necessary funds to put the roof over our heads and the food on our plates! (And yes, I get that we do have a social system that provides much of this for those who are not able to work for whatever reason!) Ultimately though, as humans we still prefer to physically earn our living, hence we spend so much of our time within the working environment. Yet another arena within our society where we find ourselves put under incredible stress and strain. I’m not generally a fan of statistics, but they DO hold a level of truth, and the fact that between 70 and 90% of all visits to our GP are due to stress related disorders is nothing other than alarming! This tells us that an awful lot of our workforce are struggling greatly with their day to day living, and therefore are way more likely to take time out on sick leave! The trouble is that often we don’t feel able to share our real reason for needing time out, (for fear of being perceived as ‘weak)’, and fabricate other health issues in order to have a little restorative space! Unfortunately, that can leave employer’s with little idea of how prevalent stress can be in the workplace, and consequently renders them less likely to offer effective therapeutic intervention to their staff. Thankfully, most employers do offer Psychological help in one form or another, but more often than not it is only given when staff are so embroiled in their stressed state that they have little choice but to confess that they are struggling with emotional issue’s. That seems a little unfair, and so this is WHY I am so childishly excited about being involved with The Feel Good Initiative, because it is a golden opportunity for us to make it less daunting for those who are suffering to reach out. We are conveying the message that it is okay to have mental health issues, it is okay to feel vulnerable, and that more than anything, we are there to actively guide and support all who are struggling through tough times. We are looking to create the mental clarity that so often evades us, and bring a peace of mind that most of us have only ever been able to dream about! The difference is, that WE will be doing the reaching out, rather than simply waiting around for those who are suffering in silence to find the courage to confess!

This is an exciting time for all of us at The Feel Good Initiative, and I know I am speaking for us all when I say that we cannot wait to roll this programme out…and all I can say is (after so much ranting!) please do all take care, stay safe, and please, DO watch this space!

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