Category Archives: Making a Disability your Life’s Biggest Gift

blogs about Making a Disability your life’s biggest gift and how you can grow and thrive with a Disability. these are based in paart on Brendon Burchard’s book, “The Charge: “.

How to be Present

You might think that where ever you are, you are present. Is that what we mean by being present?

How often has your attention been somewhere different from your body? No I don’t mean some sort of “Out of body experience.”

When you’re thoughts are not where your body are what have been the consequences?

Sometimes letting our minds go to places or thoughts that leave our bodies behind is good. Like when I write these blogs. I suspend my awareness of the chair upon which I sit, and the sounds around me. (OK, my wise guy doesn’t say these blogs aren’t good, but at least they are a great diversion from your reality.) That diversion lets my mind focus on typing and what I type.

When I get into a novel or TV show, I am not present. That allows me to clear the noise that has been accumulating in my mind. It is sort of a resetting pause for my mind.

Are there better ways to reset our minds?

When we let a novel or TV show reset our minds we are letting our human choices direct our minds. How does the universe choose to reset our minds?

How can we let the Universe reset our minds?

This is what the various forms of meditative practice do. They silence the “Monkey chatter” and let other things come into our minds. Often we are not conscious of what these are. That is proper since our conscious minds are only a small part of our brain. Our brains are constantly being assaulted with signals from our body as well as our consciousness. These signals send impulses thru our brain that connect and touch on other neurons. When we silence the flood of impulses our brain gets to restore its normal balance.

Once rebalanced, our brain can let the normal flow of the world around us in without the filter of our recent past.

Have you ever mistreated someone because you were preoccupied with something that happened to you just before you met them?

If so, you did that because your brain was set to respond to the prior situation. If that situation had persisted then your next thoughts and actions would have been appropriate. But if your current situation changes suddenly your brain may not shift to respond to your new circumstances.

How can we leave one situation behind and prepare ourselves for the next? How can we become present again?

First, we need to alert ourselves that the situation has changed. How often do you take the feelings of the day home with you? As we arrive home we need to remind ourselves that the trials of the office belong there. Now we need to focus upon our home.

To refocus upon our home life (or any other new situation) we need to first take stock of how we Aare feeling. Are we happy, sad, angry or tense? It might be better to put on some calming music as we drive home. We do not always need to have the latest news on the radio.

Second, we need to focus ahead. Who will we meet? What will their situation be? Will they need us to listen to their troubles?

To decide how to focus our attention we should ask, “What does the WORLD need now.” We are part of a world which is greater than ourselves. The ultimate need is not mine or the people I meet, but of the whole world. For example, what happens in my mind affects others around me. What happens within the group in which I am sharing will affect the greater world. The greater world will come back at both me and those around me.

How can we get in touch with the greater world?

Getting in touch with the greater world is the stuff of philosophers and mystics. . Yet this is what we, too, will ultimately do. Each night when we sleep we surrender ourselves to the world we are in and each morning we awake to participate in that world again.

How do you want to participate in the world?

When we were children we had needs and sought to have the world provide for us. As infants we cried to get fed, our diapers changed, and loved. As we became adults and parents we provided this for the next generation.

The world is more than just child and parent or parent and child relationships. Yet, both relationships give and receive Love. Is not love what we need from the world too?

As children and parents we gave Love and received love back. So as we enter into each new situation might the best question we can ask ourselves is, “How can I be loving in this moment?”

When were you most in touch with the world?

How can you be more in touch with the world?

What practices can you start to open yourself to the world?

As all Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

Note: this is the fourteenth in my blog series inspired by Brendon Burchard’s book, The Charge

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How to really Matter

When you are asked, “do you matter?” What do you say? I mean what you really think in your heart. For most of us especially after a disability we might think we don’t matter. That is the way much of society treats us. We are redundant. No one wants to work with us and help us contribute to the group.

Those who are too slow soon get left behind. Not just on the metaphoric journey thru life, but also in school and elsewhere. In school we followed the successes of the stars. They were our heroes, the ones who got to do the special things. We read about them in the school news. Everyone knew who they were.

As adults we hear about those people with exceptional abilities. We elect the best politician into office. We promote the best candidate for the job. Then we fire the ones who struggle to keep up. They are soon gone and forgotten from the team.

When you find you are the one who got cut out what do you do?

You have just been told you don’t matter. Do you take that on as your new identity?

It is so easy to think we don’t matter anymore and get depressed. Depression serves only to separate you further from the pack. Until you realize that you need to find a new way of thinking about yourself and take charge you will always wonder if you will ever find yourself in a pack again.

In order to matter, you need to understand how you fit in, so ask yourself:

  • How have you contributed to the lives of your family members?
  • How have you contributed to your friends?
  • How have you contributed at work?
  • How have you contributed to your community?
  • What have you created and given to the world?

Many of us will notice that we have fallen short of what we wished. Now how can we activate our drive to matter to the world?

First, give of your best in all that you do. Strive to do your best and when you fall short let yourself learn from the experience.

Last evening I was with some friends and one woman suddenly started putting down what I was saying. I persisted in trying to make my point. Later I realized that she had a story she needed to share. While I don’t think that would have been the best place to share her story, I do not know for sure. I think we could have addressed it. The next time I get an opportunity, I will try to hear others stories when they interrupt me.

Next, seek out opportunities to contribute. Where might your gifts and abilities benefit others? This need not be in formal volunteer settings. You can contribute by holding open a door and smiling at the people you meet on the street. Yes, even such a simple act as smiling at strangers matters. Does seeing happy people make you feel better?

There are guidelines you can use to evaluate your experiences so you can recognize those opportunities which confirm that you matter.

  • What are your abilities?
  • How do they benefit others?
  • How do you see the benefit?
  • What new opportunities are coming your way? Yes, the world is always offering you things. You need to recognize and accept what is offered.

Third, how can you help others to live better? This may be just calling someone who is suffering and showing them you care. When you were sick and others contacted you did that make your day? You can make someone else’s day and say Hi.

What have you contributed that mattered to the world?

What new opportunities do you notice coming your way to be someone who matters?

What steps will you take to become someone who matters?

Remember when you matter you feel better.

As all Ways, Seek Joy,

PS, this is the thirteenth in the blog series on making a Disability your life’s biggest gift. They are inspired by Brendon Burchard’s book, The Charge

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How to succeed with a challenge when disabled

When we have a disability in our lives we often feel just living is enough of a challenge. However, taking on additional challenges can make the “challenge” of disability seem minor. That’s right! Trying to do more, not less, can make it easier to do the normal things.

Why you should take on a challenge in spite of a disability.

When we live with a disability we often find ourselves stuck in a sort of purgatory. Because we know that we have limitations we don’t try new things. That leaves us stuck without the thrills of achievement.

If we accept the label of “disabled” we will have disabled our lives. When we were children we couldn’t’ do many things, yet we still tried. We would ride a bike even if we fell off the last time. So why don’t we keep trying after a disability. Yes there were many times we fell off the bike, yet we were usually able to go farther each time once we got back on. Each incremental improvement kept us trying to ride, so why is it that as adults we accept failure when the first attempt doesn’t go well?

There are several reasons why we might not try a second time, but none are valid. You should expect to do better with second and subsequent attempts. You should be able to gain both skill and knowledge with each failure. The fact that you keep trying defeats that self-image of a failure.

Now that you feel like trying, what should you try?

Here are guidelines for what challenges to undertake:

  • Choose a challenge that excites you. Bike riding is exciting. That was one of the reasons we kept trying.
    • The challenge needs to make you focus. You did not worry what you would watch on TV after you rode your bike.
    • The challenge needs to keep offering you room to improve. Once you could ride the bike downhill, you then had to learn how to turn around and ride it back up the hill.
    • The challenge needs to offer you milestones. Bike riding had those, ride down, turn, and ride up the hill.
    • Each step along the way needs to make you feel you accomplished something.
    • You get to share your achievements. Initially your parents were there to cheer on your bike riding. True they also picked you up and tended to the scraped knees.
  • You need to be able to focus upon the process. You looked forward to each attempt to ride the bike. Then riding the bike became a joy in itself.
  • To really get your life going as an adult you now need to set challenges for yourself each day, week and month in the various areas of your life, physical, emotional, social, and work. Yes, you need to pay attention to all these areas. Would your life be fuller if you lost weight, found more reasons for joy, made more friends, and did a better job at work?
    • Don’t expect to conquer your challenges alone, you did not learn to ride that bike by yourself, so why should you go it alone now?

So, ask yourself:

  • What will be the next bold challenge I undertake?
  • What challenge did I avoid because I feared how others would react?
  • What will be the challenges I will choose each month for the rest of the year?

Now make your plans and get your team together. I have assembled a team to help me with this blog, the podcast, “Disability Freedom” and to find ways to reach more with these two mediums.

As all ways, Seek Joy

Ps this is the eleventh in the series on making a disability your biggest Gift. They are based on Brendon burhcard’s book, The Charge

 

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How to succeed with a challenge when disabled

When we have a disability in our lives we often feel just living is enough of a challenge. However, taking on additional challenges can make the “challenge” of disability seem minor. That’s right! Trying to do more, not less, can make it easier to do the normal things.

Why you should take on a challenge in spite of a disability.

When we live with a disability we often find ourselves stuck in a sort of purgatory. Because we know that we have limitations we don’t try new things. That leaves us stuck without the thrills of achievement.

If we accept the label of “disabled” we will have disabled our lives. When we were children we couldn’t’ do many things, yet we still tried. We would ride a bike even if we fell off the last time. So why don’t we keep trying after a disability. Yes there were many times we fell off the bike, yet we were usually able to go farther each time once we got back on. Each incremental improvement kept us trying to ride, so why is it that as adults we accept failure when the first attempt doesn’t go well?

There are several reasons why we might not try a second time, but none are valid. You should expect to do better with second and subsequent attempts. You should be able to gain both skill and knowledge with each failure. The fact that you keep trying defeats that self-image of a failure.

Now that you feel like trying, what should you try?

Here are guidelines for what challenges to undertake:

  • Choose a challenge that excites you. Bike riding is exciting. That was one of the reasons we kept trying.
    • The challenge needs to make you focus. You did not worry what you would watch on TV after you rode your bike.
    • The challenge needs to keep offering you room to improve. Once you could ride the bike downhill, you then had to learn how to turn around and ride it back up the hill.
    • The challenge needs to offer you milestones. Bike riding had those, ride down, turn, and ride up the hill.
    • Each step along the way needs to make you feel you accomplished something.
    • You get to share your achievements. Initially your parents were there to cheer on your bike riding. True they also picked you up and tended to the scraped knees.
  • You need to be able to focus upon the process. You looked forward to each attempt to ride the bike. Then riding the bike became a joy in itself.
  • To really get your life going as an adult you now need to set challenges for yourself each day, week and month in the various areas of your life, physical, emotional, social, and work. Yes, you need to pay attention to all these areas. Would your life be fuller if you lost weight, found more reasons for joy, made more friends, and did a better job at work?
    • Don’t expect to conquer your challenges alone, you did not learn to ride that bike by yourself, so why should you go it alone now?

So, ask yourself:

  • What will be the next bold challenge I undertake?
  • What challenge did I avoid because I feared how others would react?
  • What will be the challenges I will choose each month for the rest of the year?

Now make your plans and get your team together. I have assembled a team to help me with this blog, the podcast, “Disability Freedom” and to find ways to reach more with these two mediums.

As all ways, Seek Joy

Ps this is the eleventh in the series on making a disability your biggest Gift. They are based on Brendon burhcard’s book, The Charge

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Chaging color in nature

You must Change your Disabled Life

You must change your disabled Life or you will become disabled for Life. When a disability enters your life your old life ends. You may have thought – like me – that after a period of re-training you could resume your former life. Honestly, no one can.

The fact that you faced a disability will change you. This was a major life trial and now is part of your story. You were tested and achieved many things.

Since your life has been changed, are you really living the life you want to live now?

Many times in one’s life we ask this question, usually about some aspect of our lives and not the life itself. Major disabilities force most of us to pause and ask questions about our lives.

As a Life coach I divide life into four areas, physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Now with a disability you will have to re-assess your life in all of these areas.

I talked about how to do that in the first few blogs of this series. You are now faced with the choice of either letting your life go on in a disabled cruise-mode or taking charge and living your life fully.

How do you make such a radical change in your life?

First, you have to decide what you are really trying to do in life. Most of us had only a vague plan of what we were seeking to do when we left home. Now with some experience we can make better informed choices.

If you think you know what you want to do with your life, ask yourself what you did with it in the last 12 months.

Then set some goals for yourself. What do you want to be doing for the next 12 months in the following areas: physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually? You may want to re-read, “How to envision your Dreams after a Disability.”

How often have you thought you made some goals for yourself only to find that weeks later you have made no progress toward them?

Here are some ways to make the changes you want to happen.

  1. Keep the prize in your eyes. Not only do you need an Avatar of who you want to become but the benefits of those changes need to come to mind each time you begin a new day.
  2. Enjoy the new experiences. With a disability you will have to do some things differently and in order to achieve new goals there will be new tasks. Enjoy the challenges and be sure to stop occasionally to look around. While climbing a mountain you often stop to take a breather and enjoy the view. In life we also need to enjoy what we accomplish.
  3. Get clarity on what you are seeking to do. It is hard to see a mountain’s summit from the foot of the mountain. If you just start going up because the summit is at the top, you can easily find a Clift blocking your way. If you had looked at a map or photo of the mountain you might have discovered an easier way up. What are the various paths that might lead to your goal?
  4. Get a guide. It will be easier if you find someone who has walked this or a similar path before you. You can find these people in biographies, fiction or real life. Living guides can take the form of new friends, mentors, or coaches. Look around and see who you can find.
  5. Get clear on what you do and don’t want to do. Create for yourself these “This/That” statements:
    1. I want to do this, but I don’t want to do that.
    2. I want to do more of this and less of that.
    3. Hook a new behavior on to an existing one. For example, when I greet my wife I really listen to how she responds to me.
    4. Always choose this, not that. Choose a smile over a frown.
    5. Do this now before you do that. Brush your teeth before going to bed.
  6. Add to your journal each day those this/that statements you made.

So, on which of the changes have you been holding back?

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

This is the 10th in the blog series, “Thriving after a Disability.” they are based on Brendon Burchard’s The Charge

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Are you really connected to your Friends?

Connecting to others is an important source of our wellbeing. Those connections get us thru the tough times and bring us joy and laughter in the good times. Yet it often is the tough times that show us that we lack friends.

Do you really have friends?

If you’re not sure ask yourself these questions?

  • How many people do I look forward to meeting?
  • If I was injured in an accident, who besides family could I turn to?
  • If they were injured in an accident who would turn to me?

Studies say that most Americans find these tough questions to ask and even tougher to answer. Yet, those who thrive in this world don’t have trouble with them. Friendships are one of the very important things to help us thrive.

No matter who you are or where you are you can make friends. I saw this among people who found themselves living in nursing homes and elsewhere.

Years ago as I made rounds each evening, seeing the number of friends around a dyeing man’s bed convinced me that gay men might have something from which the rest of us would benefit. This man was dying of AIDS in the 1980’s. In those days we did not have drugs to stop or reverse the AIDS virus. I could only make him comfortable and treat his secondary infections. Yet, every evening when I stopped by his room there was a half dozen men visiting him. I had never seen this with other patients. So many people willing to take the time to be with a friend.

So, what is a good friend? A friend is not just someone you can turn to in crises. Friends will make you laugh and grow. You are free to be yourself with a friend. Yes, you may differ on some issues, but you appreciate them in spite of that.

If you want better friendships you will need to create them. So here are some ways to get started:

  1. Imagine what you’re ideal relationships with friends, family, lovers, peers and others would look like. Do they support you? Do they encourage you to grow by supporting and offering new experiences?
  2. Review the relationships you have with “friends” now:
    1. Do they meet your ideal?
    2. Could that relationship be nourished to meet your ideal?
    3. Would the other person be receptive to deepening your relationship?
  3. Who else would you like to get to know?
  4. Now find ways to spend time with these people and enjoy getting to know them better. Friends enjoy doing things together and sharing their dreams and trials. Yes, there might be times when you know it would hurt them to say what is on your mind.
  5. Look for the positive in these relationships. Partners in marriages that thrive tend to say 5 positive things for each negative one. This is good advice with all those we meet. Too often we are seeking to protect ourselves and not connect with others. How often have you really been attacked? What was troubling those who attacked you? Was it really you, or something they projected on to you?
  6. Make it a point to connect with some friends regularly. There is not enough time for us to connect with each one of our friends every month, but try to connect in person frequently if only for coffee. Phone calls and emails can help in between times. These contacts will help you to keep up with them.

 

May you develop stronger and deeper Friendships!

 

This is the ninth in my blog series on Brendon Bur chard’s book, ref=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451667531/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1451667531&linkCode=as2&tag=injoyheaandli-

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How not to be lonely

We all feel lonely at times. Loneliness results from not experiencing what is called empathy. Empathy occurs when the neurons in our brains are doing the same things that those around us are doing. They are called mirror neurons. It is seen when everyone else in a crowd yawns in response to one person yawning. Empathy however, occurs at an emotional level. Neurons in the limbic system of our brain are in sync with those persons around us.

How can we not feel lonely?

Since loneliness results from our brains not being in sync with the brains of others around us, we need to “get into their space.” Not physically, but emotionally. However, it turns out that doing physical things together also helps. How close do we feel on the dance floor? We are all listening and moving to the same music.

We developed the capacity for empathy from childhood. We all know that babies that are not cared for in an emotional way do not thrive. In fact many die despite adequate food and other physical care. Children, whose parents were emotionally distant while they were infants, often have a lifelong feeling of loneliness.

The good news is that we can be less lonely. That means we need to feel cared for. We do not need others to start the process for us. We can expand the process without depending upon others to step forward.

Here are four action areas you can try out to reduce your loneliness:

  1. Care for yourself. it turns out when we treat ourselves well we feel it. But some of the things that our bodies need are not junk food and other treats.
    1. We need adequate water. That is just plain old water. While the exact amount of water is not clear, we have all felt the sensation of drinking enough water mid gulp. So several times a day drink until full. If you do it before meals you are less apt to over eat.
    2. We also need sleep. How often do you feel tired during the day? This is because we have not had enough sleep over night. Most people function best with 8 hours of sleep a night. Allowing at least this much each and every night will leave you more energized during the day. Increased energy will help you get more done.
    3. Our bodies were made for activity. We need to get some exercise regularly. A hard physical workout several times a week gets the kinks out and makes our bodies work more efficiently.
    4. Relax and connect with what is going on around you. The things I am talking about are natural things. Our breath is the most convenient thing to connect with. This process is called meditation. When we get into deeper practices our brains actually grow new neural connections.
    5. Watch out for caring. You will notice yourself and others caring for people around you. Acknowledge yourself for the caring you do. See how acts of caring make others feel.
  2. Care for and about others. That means watch them and offerassistance. Don’t you feel good when youare able to help someone else? You have connected with their need and actedaccordingly.
    1. Yet we as humans need so much more. If we can be curious about what others are doing and feeling we will automatically connect. But don’t just get the facts, get the feelings, too.
    2. Make new friends. As a physician I noted how so many people in nursing homes were lonely. They were separated from or had out lived their former friends and family. Those who could make new friends were not lonely. Making new friends is a lifelong task.
  3. Let others get close to you.
    1. Helping is a two way street. If no one let themselves be helped, who would you help? If they noticed you needed help they were paying attention to you. Now you can find out more about them. you might just find a new friend
    2. Reach out to others. How much do you know about those people you meet each day? Why not suggest that you get together for a cup of coffee or a meal. These will be opportunities to connect on a more personal level.
    3. Ask for help. Are there tasks or other things you struggle with? How often have you seen friends who go shopping together? If you watch them in the store you will see that they are sharing not just the shopping but the other things that weigh on their minds as well.
  4. Take time each day to reflect upon your life. What did you do? How did it make you feel? How might you connect better with others?

There are many other things you can do to be less lonely. What are some of your favorite things that make you feel less lonely?

So, “when you seek out others, you enjoy others.”

 

Note: this is the eighth blog in my series based on Brendon Burchard’s book, The Charge. You can read the rest by clicking on the link to the right.

Feel free to share this with the lonely ones in your life.

 

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How you can be competent with a disability

One of the key things we lose with a disability is our competence. There are so many things we can no longer do. Tasks we mastered years ago are now impossible. How can you ever expect to do the things you used to do? Or even do some of the simple things that would help you get through the day?

I used to feel that way, too. I felt incompetent. Then I looked around and found many people doing many things that I did not think were possible. Yes, blind people don’t drive cars, but there are so many other things they can do. Recently I found a blind internist (that was the role I performed as a physician). If I sought him out I am sure I could learn his tricks and regain my clinical competence. There are ways to get your competence back!

What is competence?

Brendon Burchard defines Competence as, “our ability to understand, successfully preform in, and master our world.” As adults facing a disability most of us still understand our world. Yes, we discover that there are many things we had overlooked. How others respond to my disability has been eye-opening. I feared that others would take advantage of me. Instead I discovered that most people wanted to help.

What disability takes from most of us is our ability to perform many tasks. We don’t lose all of our abilities, but many key ones. The loss of abilities can cause us to feel that we lost our identity. I used to see myself as a runner. Now when I have trouble seeing obstacles and responding to them in a timely manner when walking, I am afraid to run.

Want to regain your competence?

What parts of your identity have been stolen by your disability? Pause and make a list. Include in that list the areas of personal care needs, job talents, and professional/social skills.

Why is competence important?

This may seem like a silly question. As you began the review of your list of lost skills you probably felt a loss of confidence, too. When we find we can’t do something we are afraid to do other things. When I couldn’t run I was afraid to ride a bike. In fact I did ride a bike and managed to crash it and hurt myself.

The loss of competence leads to a loss of confidence. This loss of confidence can also lead to many other things as well. When I couldn’t do one thing I hesitated to try other familiar tasks. There is a light switch that needs replacing. I have yet to try this familiar chore.

I have done many fix up chores around the house. To spend time among others I went on a Habitat “Build” project. There I was teamed up with another man to cut and install the floor molding. He had never done this before. I found myself trying to tell him how to cut the molding. Cutting molding is complicated because you have to visualize how the peace will fit with the others and then figure out how to cut it. Often you have to place the board upside down or backwards to the way it will ultimately fit. After a while I found myself just cutting the boards. Yes I feared I would cut a finger. but all ten fingers are still intact.

This experience gave me some of my confidence back. I found I still possessed a competence that was valuable. I started the day seeing myself as a helper and finding myself as the leader.

With the feeling of confidence we are apt to try new things, or try old things we were afraid to do. I discovered new ways to hammer a nail when I couldn’t see how to hit the nail on the head.

Competence also determines how quickly we bounce back from setbacks. When I watch football, I see this all the time. When a team makes a first down, it is apt to keep making progress. After that, there is usually some event that stops the drive. It is not the fault of the offense, but a sack, penalty or interception. Success breeds success.

Want to regain your Competence?

Make a list of things you know you can still do. Which ones can you do masterfully?

Acknowledge yourself for what you can do. Doesn’t that feel good?

Now let’s build our competencies up even >

A few weeks ago I talked about our dreams. What are your dreams? Now let’s start to make them come true. Make a list of the things you would need to do to achieve your dreams. Which ones are on the list of competencies you just made? Which ones do you need to develop?

Now make a plan to develop those competencies. Here is how to do that.

  1. Make a relearning schedule: Pick small tasks that you feel unsure about being able to do.
  2. Write them down in as specific a form as you can. How can others observe your progress? When will they be completed?
  3. Get a coach to help you. This can be a friend or a professional coach, (those focused upon life, career or health will have the most expertise in helping you).
  4. List those reasons that come to mind that make you feel you will not be able to achieve them. Now, with the help of your coach address each of these excuses.
  5. As you make progress, celebrate. This is very important because we need to see that what we thought was impossible we are getting done.
  6. Keep all this in a journal. That way when you feel stuck you can review and see your progress, reflect on the strategies learned and create new ones to overcome any new obstacles.

Now you are on your way to regaining your competence!

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

  1. Share this with anyone you know who might feel incompetent. Let them know that this is part of my series on how to thrive after a disability. You can find the other blogs by clicking on the category link to the right. If you have not signed up for my Newsletter do that too, and be sure not to miss any of the Upcoming blogs and other helpful materials.

 

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How to reestablish control in your life after a Disability

When a disability enters your life you will lose control. There will be things you are no longer able to do. That is what a disability is. However control is essential for thriving in life.

Why reestablish control in your life after a Disability?

Control is one of the drives that are essential for one to thrive in life. Brendon Burchard in his book, The Charge, calls this being “Charged.” He lists 10 drives that are essential. This is the first blog about these drives.

We have sought to control our lives since infancy. When we learned to say “No” we used it constantly. It drove our parents crazy, but gave us control. We could stop what was going on. As soon as our parents realized how we would respond they asked questions so our response would be aligned with their wishes. Then they, too, had control again.

As we grew we sought to control more of our lives. This lead too many confrontation’s with our parents. We would refuse to go to bed even though we were just about to fall asleep where we were.

When we lose control we try to control what we can. When I rotated through Pediatrics the children suffering from cancer would choose who would draw their blood and do other things to them. This was one way they could control part of their lives. They would still feel the pain of a needle, but they would have someone of their choosing using the needle.

As my eyesight failed, I knew I would have to stop driving. For years I would fail the eye test and get my eye doctor to fill in the form. I realized that this would only work for a while. I decided that I did not want to hurt someone else due to my poor eyesight. Thus, after a very close call, I prayed on the issue. The answer came almost immediately with another near miss.

By choosing to stop driving I still maintained some control. I found resources that I did not know existed. A neighbor offered me rides to a civic group we were in. Others also offer me rides.

How to assess your level of control?

You can ask yourself three questions to assess your level of control (rate them on a scale of 1 to 10):

  1. How in control of your life do you feel?
  2. How in control of your emotions are you?
  3. How in control of the immediate world around you are you?

True, control is never absolutely all or nothing. There are times when no one can see – the lights went out. Even in the dark we can visualize what we feel and hear.

Since control is relative we need to establish references. But these references can either serve to trap us or let us thrive. If we choose references that trap us, we will be limited by them. When we choose references that let us thrive, they give us energy.

I could choose to define my eye sight as not as good as an athlete, or as it used to be. Or, I could say it is adequate to get around. And I can find the tools I need to supplement my poor eye sight. The latter lets me feel in control.

It is this feeling of being in control that is important. That is why the second question. Choose a reference that will let you score a 10. Don’t choose to compare your mobility to jelly fish.

Controlling the immediate world is what the kids on the pediatric ward were doing. By making choices and having them honored they were able to undergo things that could have left them in a tantrum and tears.

So, how do you get control of your life after a disability?

  • Look at your attitude: as the old phrase goes, “Shit happens.” What is shit anyway? Is it the bodies waste or fertilizer?
  • Do something new! As children we were always trying new things. Doing new and different things is “the spice of life.” Always doing the same thing is boring. So change your routine; eat something different, use a different route to get to the store, meet someone new.
  • Control what you can. It might be simple as choosing who does the procedure, but find a way to control.
  • List the things you can do.
  • List the things you just did.
  • Schedule some simple tasks before the hard ones.
  • Challenge yourself to come up with new and novel ways to do things.
  • Add to this list.

 

As all Ways, Seek Joy,

 

PS, when you are in control you are ABLE!

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How to Envision your Dreams after a Disability

As we fight to recover from a Disability we need to envision ourselves again. Before the disability struck we all had a vision of who we were. When the disability struck, that vision ended up shattered. The self-vision served us. Now we need to create a new self vision.

Why is a self-vision important?

Self visions are important because they serve as a reference when we need guidance. How did you see yourself before your disability struck? You were probably capable and self-sufficient. You might have been a leader or a caretaker. If you saw yourself in those roles, you would feel comfortable doing those things.

As someone who was self-sufficient you did not ask for help. You would step forward and do what you needed to do.

As a caretaker, you would step forward and help others. You would take opportunities to learn how to care for others. Did you take first aid classes? Would you step forward and offer that first aid to those in need? If your help was rejected, would you take it personally? I did.

Now that you are disabled can you still help others? Is it hard to accept the help of others? These feelings come about because you can no longer live up to your self-image.

Your self-image gave you permission to do and act in certain ways. When you acted in those ways you felt good about yourself. When you failed to live up to your self-image you felt bad about yourself. That is one reason you feel bad when you are disabled – you can’t live up to your self-image.

How to create a new self-vision

Our self visions come about from the messages we receive from others. I was the oldest child, and thus told to look out for my sister and brother. When my sister started school, I was responsible to walk with her and be sure she got to and from school safely. Now, that our parents have passed on, I am even more aware of how they are doing. I still think of myself as the big brother, and now also as the Patriarch.

I now am disabled and not in contact with my sister and brother very often. They live in other states and care for themselves and their spouses. They would probably say they worry as much about me as I do them. Both ways, that worry does not take up much of our time or effort.

Day to day we need a clearer self-image. How I interact with my wife and those people I meet each day is the real result of my self-image.

Some questions I had to ask myself as I accepted my disability are:

  • Would I admit to be disabled?
  • How would I react to others help?
  • Would I fear others taking advantage of me?
  • Would I still seek ways to help others?
  • Would I still accept responsibilities and serve in organizations?
  • What would I do at home?
  • How would I do these things?

As I pondered these questions, I allowed myself to act in various ways. I resisted carrying a white cane. Then I realized that I could not walk about and feel safe without it. Carrying it told others that I was different (it is surprising that not everyone knows what a white cane is or means).

We fear that others will take advantage of us because we admit to being blind. I was asking for help, when I was used to being the helper. I am pleasantly surprised how comforting it is to have others looking out for me. Yes, I feel guilty about accepting a seat on a bus, when I can stand just as well as others. Also there are places on the bus where it is easier to hear the driver announce the stops than in the front. They have PA systems. I also like to sit facing forward. The sideways seats strain my back.

To find out whom you are after a disability you need to try out the various roles. You need to evaluate how well you feel you do in those roles. Are their skills you need to master? Should you just let those roles lapse? How do you feel about those options?

How do you see yourself now? Do you want to be happy and self-confident? Or are you willing to be a crippled shell of who you were? Now that you have some idea of whom you will become,

How will you use your new self-image?

Self-images have many forms. There is the mental and emotional image I have been talking about. However, these images show up in many places. Every time we post on Facebook and elsewhere on the web our photo appears. This might be called a logo or avatar. It shows others how we want to be seen.

How often do people replace their headshot with a photo of family or friends? Some even replace the photo with another image. That is the way they show up each time they post on Facebook. It is their avatar.

While we don’t use animals or other images on Facebook, they are convenient ways for us to see ourselves. What animal were you? Take a moment to put a name and recall that animal.

Now what animal are you? Is that the animal you want to become? If not what animal do you want to become? How does that animal act? How do you feel when you think about being that animal?

Once you have decided upon what animal you want to be, what attracts you to that animal. How would that animal act? Do you need to change anything about your present self to become that animal?

This envisioning is what Life coaches help people do. If you want help with the process set up a consultation and see if I would be a good Life coach to help you with this. There is a sign up box in the right sidebar.

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

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