YouTube is not typically my thing, but I’m glad my mom put her cell phone in front of my face Monday to share this video with me. It’s AMAZING. I shared it with my psychology students because our topic was the psychology of healing and it fit perfectly. The ex-paratrooper featured in the video had all but given up: He was overweight, unhappy…but someone believed in him and offered him hope. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this right now and go watch it…then come back and finish reading of course! Here’s how to view it:
Go to YouTube and type in “Ex-paratrooper yoga” and it will come up. I suggest watching the video that’s 4:55 minutes long and is entitled, “Ex-paratrooper’s Amazing Transformation is Inspirational” posted by SPRTN79. It has a picture of our inspirational man lying face-down on his living room floor in the beginning freeze frame. I think that’s a great choice for the freeze frame because let’s face it—that’s just how we can feel at times in our lives when we’ve been slammed by something.
What makes some people get up off that floor and persevere while others mope or despair for years or even their entire lives? In this video, the man heard lots of negativity and “realism.” Over the years he received his fair share of “expert” diagnoses and probably medications to accompany them (this is the norm for Veterans, from my knowledge and experience). So what turned his life around?
The video doesn’t offer a lot as far as answering that question, except for Diamond Dallas Page. He offered the man hope when no one else had. And once he heard that, the man believed change was possible. But if you watch the video, you also see the man’s son in some of the shots. I suspect his son was encouraging to him as well. Would the man have had the same outcome without these two people believing in him? We’ll never know, but based on what was written in the captions, no.
Sometimes, all it takes is the power of suggestion from ONE person to uplift someone or allow them to believe improvement is possible.
Hmmm…so if power can lie in a simple positive suggestion, like in this video—doesn’t that indicate there is also power in NEGATIVE suggestions…um, like the ones given in some psychological interactions, diagnoses, and/or drugs? Let’s think about that.
How powerful are you, as a mental health care professional, in the lives of your clients?
Are you aware of the power of your language in how they see their situations?
Do you choose language and questions deliberately so to paint your clients’ “problems” and their reactions in a neutral, positive light or a negative light?
Do you suggest diagnoses or drugs when instead you should be challenging yourself to deal with the clients “problems” more directly?
Do you have the professional ability to deal with their nightmare material, for example, or is it simpler to refer/confer with someone who can prescribe a drug?
How much hope do you offer to your clients each session?
Clients usually come to us at the low points in their lives, right? Not usually when things are going well. Are we ever guilty of getting into a professional rut? Do we ever find ourselves merely following intake routine and diagnosing rather than focusing on making that meaningful connection with the person? I’d assume not, but unfortunately this is what I have seen/heard sometimes.
There is so much power in someone believing in another, in interpersonal support. And while we do not want to be a “crutch” in someone’s development of self and of inner strength, we definitely are in a great position to give them what they have perhaps been missing. Just the simple choice of our words and optimism might be that person’s life-changing inspiration and hope.
Natosha Monroe is a counselor and PhD candidate passionate about increasing Troop access to counseling services. Her blog contents are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense in any way.