A Perspective Shift
Having a brain injury can be a very difficult area of life to have hope through. When your entire body doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to, it is extremely frustrating. It is a constant search for doctors, resources, and help to keep you moving forward in your recovery.
No one wants to be labelled as having a disability (I still sometimes wince thinking of that word). But if you think of it, we all have something in our lives that is hard to deal with. It could be arthritis, diabetes, M.S., or some other form of physical struggle. It could be pride, anxiety, or depression. Or even a general dissatisfaction of where your life is at. You want to be doing more but don’t know what or how to obtain it.
All of these things can set us back from what we feel we should be doing. What if we change our perspective? What if we take our limitations and see them as a gift? A way to connect with others going through similar things.
I had to have a major perspective change post-concussion. It’s okay to be angry and grieve what you’ve lost. There’ll be moments at different levels of recovery where another wave of grief will catch you off guard. The important thing is that you process it and then continue to move forward in the new you.
Here are some things I’ve found helpful over the years to gain strength and a healthier perspective:
· “Don’t stay focused on what you’ve lost. Look at what you still have.” (Christine Caine)
It is very easy to get caught in the cycle of always wanting to go back to who you were. You need to take some time at the beginning to grieve the loss of parts of you. It’s healthy to do that. Then you need to let it go. Plan a little funeral of sorts if it helps. Say goodbye to parts of you that have changed. Then, embrace who you’ve become.
Write down aspects that you enjoy about yourself now. Are there characteristics that you didn’t like about yourself pre-injury that you can work on changing now? New neural pathways are being formed in your brain. This is your opportunity for a reboot on life.
· Be Grateful
I got tired of my therapists constantly telling all their patients this. It became monotonous. However, the longer I go, the more I see the importance of this. Again, since your brain is forging new pathways, this is your opportunity to create a better mindset in life.
If you focus on the things you are thankful for, it gives your mind and heart a greater sense of satisfaction in life. If you spend more time thinking of all you’ve been blessed with, you won’t have as much capacity to sit in the depression or negativity of your injury.
· Count your victories
I constantly felt like I was going backwards rather than moving ahead in recovery. It’s typically not a weekly or even monthly progression of health. The greatest changes are more easily seen year by year.
This can be really discouraging. So, in order to stay motivated, make a little chart. Write down a few victories that you had in your day, week, month, and year. Were you able to do the dishes today? Victory point! Were you able to go on a walk (even if it was three minutes)? Victory point! Get a friend involved that will celebrate and encourage you in your successes.
Remember to not get frustrated with yourself if you could do some of these things one week and not another. That’s how this goes. A victory point could be that you got out of bed and out of your P.J.’s one day.
Year by year your friends, family, and you will notice a difference. They’ll see a change in your progress. They’ll see a shift in your personality. You’ll all be encouraged.
I will say that it is hard to stay focused and positive when you are always exhausted and your body feeling run down. This advice is not a checklist to be completed. It’s choices you can make to find greater hope and peace in life.
Ultimately, if you choose to surrender yourself and start fresh with the Lord, He will guide you. If you want to change your personality for the better, He’ll be more than willing to help you with that.
Sometimes we’re given afflictions that we see as debilitating. However, He sees it as an opportunity. By allowing your heart to be vulnerable in this process, the Lord will honour you for that. He will do incredible things in your heart and life. He will renew your hope.
You are mouldable again. Allow Him to work in you and create new opportunities that you would have never had before. It may not be what you would have expected or wanted. But it is a new adventure to pursue and a treasure awaiting discovery.
If you’d like a great book to help with this perspective shift, check out “Suffer Strong” by Jay and Katherine Wolf. They have an incredible story. Katherine suffered a massive stroke at the age of 26. Along with the Lord’s help and reshaping of mindset, they have turned their ashes into a powerful story of hope. They also have a memoir called “Hope Heals”.