In the past month, I have been introduced to Success magazine, a very motivating publication for being a leader not only in the business world, but also in your personal life. As I was finishing the current issue, I came across a wonderful quote by Jason Silva, filmmaker, that also applied to what I am doing with my business.
“[The whole point of my work is] to infect people with a sense of boundless possibility.”
That’s what I want to do, I thought. Since I published Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities, I have been shifting my focus from the one-to-one counseling I have done for years to speaking to a more general audience about disability related topics, specifically focused on empowerment and living life more fully. What I have discovered is that my individual work with people has prepared me well for sharing tips and strategies with larger groups of people.
Much of the counseling I have done with people is how to help them “adjust” to having a disability. Given I counsel primarily people who have acquired a Traumatic Brain Injury, this makes sense. The word adjust is a clinical term. I am supposed to help people adjust to their functional limitations, apply coping skills, and develop compensatory strategies to adapt to the loss of functional skills (more clinical terms, you still with me?)
In my nearly 20 years of counseling, I have observed time and time again one of the core reasons why people have difficulty adjusting to a disability is that they allowed themselves to be defined by others’ definition of who they are because of their disability, rather than defining themselves. This is true of people both born with a disability and people who acquire one along the way. Often people just define themselves by how they think others perceive them. What an exhausting way to go because you’re investing so much mental energy in what you think others think!
I always say people are forever going to think just what they want and there’s no way we can control that. What we do have a lot of control over is how we define ourselves. Here are three easy steps for doing that:
1. Check in with yourself frequently. Ask yourself whether what your feeling or thinking about yourself belongs to you or someone else. If it’s the former and it’s a negative belief, see what you can do to reframe it. If it’s the latter, dismiss it. You have your own thoughts to keep you busy, you don’t need another’s.
2. Identify three positive traits about yourself and hold onto them like gold. For me these words are compassionate, energetic, and outgoing. Say your words like a mantra, let them radiate through you so they become a solid foundation of your self definition.
3. Develop a “definition filter.” If you do step 1 and check in with yourself about something you’re thinking or feeling and it does not match your list from step 2 (or just does not feel right for what you know to be true to you), filter it out!p Remind yourself that belief belongs to someone else and not you. Therefore, it has no bearing on who you are ultimately.
Once we begin operating from our own definition of ourselves, it’s amazing how much energy and capacity we then have to see all the possibilities open up for us on what we can do with our lives. This is because by defining ourselves, we are now steering the ship.
I haven’t gotten too many comments lately. If you feel so moved, leave one below.