Disabilities–Classrooms for Everyone
Acquiring an attitude of acceptance by learning to adapt to life changing disabilities changed life from a challenge to an opportunity. It only takes a few strategies to change challenges into the most life enhancing opportunities it’s possible for people with or without disabilities to experience. While these learning experiences are more impacting when experienced directly, there are lessons that can be learned vicariously by those who are:
- Humble enough to be teachable.
- Empathetic enough to see/feel things from another’s view point.
- Perceptive enough to recognize a real opportunity for growth.
Anybody with a background in investing knows that good investments involve taking more out than you put in. Listen carefully, learning from the experiences of others is a time, pain and money saving opportunity.
Attitudes that Create Opportunities:
1) Finding true happiness is an inside job
The millions of able bodied people who take anti depressants or who actually commit suicide is evidence that having a disability isn’t the only reason to feel despondent. What’s going wrong in the outside world may seem terrible, but what’s really presenting the difficulty is how the disability is perceived. While having a disability, or any condition, when the majority of people don’t share the same condition, can be tough, I have found 12 step support groups to be a tremendous help. in learning to accept and adapt to unexpected changes or difficult situations, and they are everywhere! There is no reason to feel alone. Feeling good is all about teamwork. Many of these interactive groups are online, which makes it easier and more economical for those who can not leave their residence to still participate in a supportive community.
Perspective is one of the blessings I gain from a support group. Realizing that my situation isn’t all that unique makes it easier to notice the positive aspects of life. Whether you have a disability or other relatively unique situation or not, one of the keys to being happy in your circumstance is to focus on your blessings instead of your trials. Recognizing your blessings is the first step toward capitalizing on them, and making the most out of them..
2) No one is immune
When hearing about people becoming disabled through an accident, it’s easy to believe it will never happen to you. Most of the people who think this way are right, but they may not always be right. When and if it happens to you, it will probably be totally unexpected. It sure was with me. Who knew? Realizing that the luck of the draw is all that separates you from this largest of the world’s minorities may affect how you interact with us. If you are a friend of one who belongs, or if you belong to this group yourself, or if you’re someone who is destined to become a member of this ever growing group, you would be well advised to become:
- Humorous or light-hearted,
- and patient.
3) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Stressing over regaining my driver’s license, or for enough strength to walk with a cane instead of a walker, or learning to propel my own wheelchair, or to sit up straight in my wheelchair without being held erect by a halo all require patience. But once you’ve done it, normal day to day trials seem to lose part of their significance. Patience is still a hard characteristic to master, and it’s especially a hard lesson for someone who hasn’t learned:
- The art of acceptance,
- To expect progress rather than perfection.
- Adaptability beats Disability.
Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet–Aristotle.
Having a disability can be stressful — everything from broken wheelchairs to health insurance cuts — not getting too stressed out over things that no one’s going to remember in a week or a month is a survival skill. Sometimes “normal” people comment that people with brain injuries or who are in wheelchairs seem zen-like. That’s just because many of us have learned the joyful peacefulness of knowing that whatever shall be shall be. So why sweat small stuff?
4) To Assume leads to ASS-U-ME
Who’s More Disabled? People with disabilities who became or become household names because of their contributions to society, or the physically and mentally whole people who became household names because of what they took from society?. If I had more time, I would put “well known people with disabilities” into Google and hand you a list, but why spend the time? If you’re curious, you’ll do it yourself, if you’re not, you won’t read my list.
Just like you hear: Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Don’t judge a person by their disability or by their lack of a disability. Accepting and Appreciating someone for who they are opens you up to feeling their Acceptance and Appreciation.
5) Delighting in Differences by Forgetting Expectations
Many people want to blend in and not be noticed. Sure, you have the life-of-the-party types, but much more often you have vanilla types who don’t want to stand out and be noticed. Having a disability puts you on stage, so to speak. Without even thinking about it, everyone notices you and how you respond to the circumstances of your life. Once you come to grips with, and accept, that you’re the unique person that you are, life becomes an endless opportunity. When you live life as someone who’s different, you learn that having a disability has its cool moments. You get to meet amazing people and get in on some very special opportunities. When you’re vanilla, no one except your immediate family or regular associates even notice you.
When you have a disability, you are free to be you. Since fitting in isn’t much of an option anyways, you are free to forget expectations and be whoever it is you feel like being. As long as you want to be a helpful and kind person, the exact flavor of that person is not shaped by the expectations of anyone but you. Embracing this can be one of the most freeing feelings ever. You don’t need to fit in to feel good about yourself or to think you “belong.” You belong to yourself. You are who you are because that is what you choose for yourself. The expectations of others has nothing, or very little, to do with it . What an amazing feeling.