How an Attitude Change Changes Limitation to Possibility
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinmen
Because I hated my injury, I spoke like I hated it. I was angry and sounded angry. Pessimism and negativity crowded out any positive thoughts before they could take hold. I saw problems everywhere I looked. Thinking and speaking negatively made me see my future in the most negative light possible. It was like my negativity snowballed.
Because I was drowning in negativity, I would spit out insults, profanity, and criticism. It was a vicious circle. One day I got sick and tired of the rut I was in. I had already attempted suicide, twice, and chickened out, so I felt stuck.
Was there anything else I could do? I called mom. She would know what I should do. I didn’t explain to her all the trouble I’d been in. I didn’t want to cloud the issue.
Change the Environment
Her suggestion was one I would never have thought of” “Why don’t you go to Walla Walla College where your brother is going?” It was summer, so the next fall I transferred from a community college to WWC. Wow! What a great, positive experience. The positive atmosphere did me a world of good, but after a couple quarters of the easiest classes, my academic wheels began spinning like car tires on ice. I couldn’t get a grip.
Walla Walla College is a great school for engineer types and people without brain damage. To quote an old cliche’, I was like a fish out of water. It seemed like everybody but me knew why they were there, and they were well equipped to get the job done. I actually missed the non-demanding atmosphere of a psych ward!
I found myself studying way harder than I had at the community college. This wasn’t a problem. The positive atmosphere made it easier to study, but even with all my studying I was barely getting Cs.
At least being in a positive environment, I was able to free myself from the bottle. I was actually finishing classes! But alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful, and by the third quarter, I was beginning to drink again. Just a little in the evening at first. But then I started drinking at lunchtime, then before class.
Pretty soon I was going to class drunk. Before I knew it, I was as bad as before going to WWC. Thankfully, faculty at WWC was more concerned about my welfare than the faculty at the community college.
I was told that I couldn’t re-enroll until I returned to Seattle and completed an inpatient alcohol treatment program. I took their advice, completed the program, and when I re-enrolled at WWC, I was clean and sober. I thought I’d do better at my studies now that I had stopped drinking. But other difficulties emerged. I’d already taken the easier classes. The remaining ones were a lot tougher. World History was my undoing. The required reading was drudgery, but I hung in there and finished every page.
Things would have been fine if I hadn’t been expected to understand and remember what I’d read. Yeah right! Like a crammed hard drive, my brain was passing its maximum capacity just doing the reading.
Trying to actually understand and recall what I read was asking too much. I kept trying to finish my studies at Walla Walla College, but I couldn’t keep my grades high enough and financial aid was no longer an option.
I left Walla Walla College and finished my two year degree at Seattle Central Washington University. Unfortunately, all that did was reconfirm my limitations. Brain damage and poor study skills still held me in their grip. Even tutors didn’t help.
I was not capable of learning and then applying what I’d learned to hold down a job. Looking back, the most important lesson college taught me was the value of getting along well with people. But re-learning this lesson was tricky.
As a teenager, I had always gotten along well with people. But trying to relate normally to people now was a real challenge. With a ruptured hypothalamus, a shattered short term memory, slow understanding, and an intermittent personality state that included anger and depression, you might understand what I was up against.
If it hadn’t been for a major change in my outlook, things would still be the same. I would have continued seeing calamities instead of challenges. I would have continued to be a depressed fountain of negativity. Then, through a string of insights and realizations, my outlook changed.
One key realization allowed me to change my perceptions and change my life. I began seeing possibilities instead of limitations.
Al Foxx is an Inspirational Humorist and Keynote Speaker.
Contact him for your next event, he will bring real life, humor and inspiration or diversity training to your audience.