Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters | Sometimes, it’s okay to stop

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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Life brings with it the expectation that we sometimes have to continually be moving forward: but is that really the case?

Hello and a very warm welcome to the spot on our site where we just stop for a bit, and talk about – as the title suggests – things to do with mental health, general wellbeing, and the things that just tend to bog us down in life. No miracle cures are offered, sadly, but we do run this bit every week and have done for years. Hopefully, over the course of the articles we do, there’s something that might be useful for you.

This time, just a few words on the notion in life that you always have to be pressing forward, always have to be making progress, always just pressing on, come what may. I’ve long had a problem with this, as, fundamentally, I think it’s just not true.

A few reasons why.

Firstly, it’s impossible. Nobody can continually go forward. I get the ethos, and I get the underlying idea. But in practical terms, sometimes you have to stop, take stock, look around. To consider options, and work out the best approach. Is it bad to actually admit that? I don’t think so.

Secondly, what’s actually wrong with going backwards? Appreciating we’re in metaphor land here, if you don’t want to live a life guided by arrogance and pig-headedness (I’ve tried it, don’t recommend it), then what’s wrong with going back a little in order to try a different way forward? That surely works, doesn’t it?

Finally, there’s the silly pressure of it. It got to a point in one job that I had where the boss was so on the lookout for signs that things were changing, or improving, or altering, that I got told to change the design on something that I worked on weekly. I pointed out that it wouldn’t make any difference to it, but was told, starkly, that sometimes you need to be seen to be changing something, even if it makes no impact.

I never really saw the point then. I don’t really see the point now.

There’s a lot more bluster than substance to all of this, I think. Yet it’s the kind of cliched phrase that’s seen as a wisdom of sorts. Like most of these things, it has its place, but for the most part, it puts unnecessary pressure on people.

How about something more realistic? How about the idea that we try and stay positive, we try and make progress with things, but we don’t beat ourselves up if we don’t? And we accept that some days, it’s best to pull up stumps rather than relentlessly pursue something that’s not that possible.

I might have been in a bad mood when I wrote this, granted. But sometimes, motivational statements do need to venture past Planet Earth….

Thanks, as always, for reading. This column will return next week

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