They say that adversity is good for us, and that it brings out the best in us. It helps us push beyond our limits, shakes us out of apathy and despondency and encourages us to be the very best that we can be. While it’s certainly true that many people with disabilities accomplish tremendous feats that are not only unencumbered by but inspired by their predicaments, it can be very hard to maintain the focus, discipline, motivation and positivity to achieve great things when in the throes of living with a disability.
Living with the pain, discomfort, frustration, isolation and depression that come with a disability can often push us into unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours. It can encumber and even enslave us, transforming us into someone we don’t want to be. Yet, with a positive outlook we can find the motivation to push ourselves beyond what we perceive as our limits and be the person we always wanted to be. Here are some ways to remain positive, whatever the nature of your disability…
Look for opportunities to challenge ignorance and educate people
When your disability causes you pain, discomfort and suffering it can be easy to become resentful of able bodied people, especially when they are ignorant or rude. It’s even easier to allow yourself to respond with anger and take your frustration out on the ignorant. Yet, it’s vital to remember that responding to ignorance with anger does little to remedy it. Challenge people’s ignorance when you come into contact with it. Try to educate people where you can. As tedious as it can be to answer the same questions over and over again from friends, family colleagues and even strangers, look at even the silliest of questions as opportunities to enlighten others.
Look at each medical appointment as an opportunity
We all know how tedious it can be when you have to keep medical appointment after medical appointment, especially when we have substantial job, career and family commitments. Look at every visit to your local medical centre as a blessing. It’s an opportunity to better understand your condition and how medical science’s constant state of evolution can make it easier for you to manage it. The better we understand our conditions, the less power they have over us and in this regard those frustrating trips to the clinic can actually be a very empowering thing.
Push yourself, by all means. But keep your expectations realistic
I’m reminded of the late, great Christopher Reeve. The Superman actor proved himself a real life hero when a fall from a horse left him paralysed from the neck down. But Reeve had been a political activist and campaigner for social justice long before he ever donned the blue tights. Despite experiencing the depression and despair that many disabled through injury experience, with the aid of his wife he turned adversity into inspiration and formed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to help provide care for those with disabilities while carrying out pioneering research into future treatments. Towards the end of his life he was even able to regain some movement in his hands and feet. Something that had been considered medically impossible.
Yet while we can all accomplish greatness, it’s important that we keep our expectations of ourselves realistic. Set daily goals that become incrementally more and more ambitious.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and keeping track of your progress will provide you with a powerful motivator to keep on going!
This is a collaborative post.