The Thriving Framework

How does thriving feel to you? Or, how should it feel?
Defining the Thriving Framework
The Thriving Framework is a heuristics for achieving a State of Thriving. It takes advantage of person centred planning, personal empowerment, the right for people to choose their own destinies and methods of achieving these destinies.  It does not require people to admit to some ill, being faulty, broken or helpless.
Achieving a State of Thriving is the end goal which is defined by individual people as their destination at the end of their progress through the framework.While the emotional experience of most people who have reached this stage is similar (safe, satisfied, confident, content, empowered, capable etc), the specific context will vary widely and the string of goals needed to achieve this state will be individualised such that the journey through the framework will be the individual persons, not anyone else’s.

Defining the State of Thriving
Thriving is a state of doing well, being well and succeeding at all of the important things in your life. If life were a game, it may defined as winning. Thriving does not mean that your life is over, only that you now have abundant resources to do what you want, how you want and as you want. People who are thriving are generally happy, are not struggling often, have most of what they want, have all of what they need and are generally fully integrated into society in such a way that they feel both wanted by and useful to society.

The State of Thriving is made up of two components. The Feeling of Thriving and the Context of Thriving.

Separating the Feeling and the Context
The State of Thriving is defined as the context you would fine yourself in to achieve the feeling of doing well and having “made it”. Core to thriving is feeling like you are thriving. Their is no point to living prosperously if you are miserable.

The Context of Thriving allows you to define the most likely situation that you are going to find yourself thriving in and the components of this context act as the elements of your goals. The goals create a flexible path for you to journey over from where you are now to where you wish to be such that you are thriving.

An emotion that I may identify as being part of my thriving might be safety. To understand why this is important I need to look at how safety plays a part in my current and past experience. For this example, it is because I have moved houses many times and could not rely on my home being home. To achieve the feeling of safety does not mean bars on the window, or a security force, or that I think I am being followed. To achieve a feeling of safety I want my own home, which can’t be taken I can not loose. In this example, the feeling is safety and the context in which I will feel safe is security in housing. If I do not recognise both components to this sub goal, then I may very well attempt to achieve the wrong thing and find myself escorted by safety professionals who do not actually address my feelings of fear at loosing my home.

The Spectrum of Thriving
Thriving is the end point on a spectrum of well being. In this case I define well being as how well my being is. My spectrum looks like this:

Death – Existing –  Surviving – Coping – Achieving – Thriving

The size of the steps between each of these increases exponentially. 

Death is the end of life, it is clinical death.

Existing is moving through life without feeling, without thought or personal power. It is close to death in that you can not or will not act and life just passes you by. Some people may wish to put this in a separate spectrum, but I feel it is the state of being just passed death. It can be placed alongside Surviving. People who  are Existing do not feel a future that is different is possible and often have no motivation to change. People in this stage may feel that they are not worth goodness or positivity. Self esteem is the main challenge, followed by motivation.

Surviving is that state of managing minute by minute, or hour by hour, or day by day the meager resources you have so that you have control over your destiny. This is the point where you can act to prolong the event horizon (the point where you can no longer influence) of your destiny. People who find themselves in this state are generally worried about personal safety, housing, food, paying the next bill and just making it through the day.

Coping is easy to mistake as Surviving, however it generally means you are managing to succeed at Surviving and are further away from slipping down to Existing or Death. Often people who are coping have a plan for a week or two and the resources to influence that. The focus is less on the immediate now and more on goals for the future. A person who is Coping can actually make plans for more than today because, on the one hand, they can see a future is possible, and on the other hand, they have command of enough resources that they can start to make future plans. This shift in controlling resources is the primary distinction between surviving and coping.

This is the beginning point of where discussing the Thriving Framework makes sense. Before this, it is too vague to make sense since it does not answer the immediate needs.

Achieving is the making progress in plans made towards Thriving. Often people feel capable and accomplished during this part of the journey. It is easy to feel that this is the whole point to life and just to stay in this aspect of the Thriving Framework. It is particularly appealing to those who have spent some time Existing, Surviving or Coping. Some people may become disillusioned with Achieving if they spend their whole lives Achieving and never quite accomplishing Thriving. Generally people who are Achieving have very few supports as they are managing this stage on their own.

Thriving is the end goal of the Thriving Framework. It means having achieved the majority of the Context Goals and feeling like you are Thriving. If you have achieved the Context Goals and do not have a feeling of Thriving, then it is important to go back and look at what you want to feel and what you may need to change to achieve this.

If the stage of Thriving can never be achieved, why aim for it? It must be achievable. This does not mean that the early Thriving Goal should be practical or achievable. When first working with your own or someone else’s goals, allow for unrealistic goals. This helps you to determine the governing emotions behind the unrealistic goals. From their you can work out how else to achieve these goals that is practical. The person on the journey through the Thriving Framework must choose and own these goals and this journey, otherwise you achieve nothing.

Shopping for Therapists

There are many good therapists out there in the wide world, the tricky thing is how to identify them.

First, let’s get you into the right mind frame. If you take your car to a mechanic and you don’t like the way they treat you or your car, you don’t go back to that mechanic, you find a new one. If you don’t like the way the shop feels, the language of the mechanic, the attitude, you don’t even leave your car there, you leave. Finding a therapist is a similar process. If you don’t like what they do to your mind and body, find a new one. If you don’t like the feel of their shop, find a new one.

There are circumstances where you have little choice, such as locked ward, community treatment order and other government sanctioned loss of freedom. Even still, you can go through the following questions to help you determine if the person you are working with is receptive to your benefit.

These questions have mostly been developed by Thomas Proud, a Peer worker.

1) What are your qualifications for helping me?

2) What experience have you got for helping me?

3) How many of your patients/clients have recovered their lives back?

4) Do you believe I can thrive?

5) What methods are you likely to employ in supporting my recovery?

6) Are you happy? If not, what are you doing about it? If nothing, what makes you qualified to help me?

If you like the sound of the answers you get, then this therapist may be able to help you. If you don’t, it is time to move on. If you can’t, perhaps you may have triggered the therapist to think about what they can and will do more so than usual.

If everyone begins to ask their therapists these questions, perhaps therapy will return to the old ways – that of a midwife of health.