In my article, Moving from bitter to Better in Life I spoke to how I reached a place in my life that I no longer wanted to merely be a survivor, tossed about by my reactions to people, places, and things. In today’s article, I would like to speak to what I discovered that led me to no longer wanting to be merely a “survivor”. The decision that motivated me to examine the mindset of a “survivor”. What I discovered revealed to me that having the mindset of a “survivor” kept me focused on what I could not do, instead of considering the possibilities of what I could do with my life.
What I discovered was that by having the mindset of a “survivor” I focused on what I could no longer do with my life. What I discovered was that having the mindset of a “survivor” I nurtured a victim mentality. What I discovered was that by having the mindset of a “survivor” I bought into the notion that I was limited by my limitations and deficits. What I discovered was that by having the mindset of a “survivor” I did not consider the possibilities of what I could do with my life. What I discovered was that by having the mindset of a “survivor” I bought into the notion that I deserved to be labeled, stereotyped, and stigmatized. What I discovered was that by having the mindset of a “survivor” I bought into the notion that I deserved to be kept in a “box” of limitation, given by the label, stereotype, and stigmatization. What I discovered was that by having the mindset of a “survivor” I traded my opinion of what I could accomplish with the opinion(s) of what the “professional and provider” community told me I could or could not accomplish. What I discovered was that by having the mindset of a “survivor” I never considered the possibility that I could create possibilities.
Let me explain:
Let me first share with you that I understand what it is like being a survivor. I sustained a severe traumatic brain injury when I was 10 years old. I am now 59 years old. What I learned as a survivor is that often the designation comes with a label and a stigmatization. The label and stigmatization are frequently bolstered by secondary dependencies and secondary gains. The label and stigmatization that leads the individual to believe that they are the identity of the survivor, with the trimmings of the assumed limitations; assigned by the stigmatization.
Being a survivor can subsequently be worn as a kind of badge of courage. The badge can lead the individual to stay focused on the assumed limitations provided by the identification purported by the stigmatization. With ongoing reinforcement, the “survivor” may find themselves being relegated to a “box” that seeks to discredit their significance beyond the “box” that accompanies the label and the stigmatization. Being a “survivor” can then find the individual in a place where they devalue both themselves and their significance.
The mindset that, in practice; can lead the individual to stay focused on their being a “survivor”. The mindset of being a survivor can lead the individual to focus on the limitations that being a survivor communicates to the individual. The mindset can serve to diminish the individual’s sense of worth and value. The mindset that seduces the individual into believing that they are a victim of the adversity, that has befallen them. The mindset that leads the individual to believe that their choices are limited. That they are prisoners in their own skin.
The mindset that leads the individual into believing that their dreams have been crushed and that their destinies are too far out of reach to them. The mindset that squelches ambition and motivation. The mindset that fosters complacency. The mindset can lead the individual to become dependent on secondary gains, which in turn can breed apathy. The mindset that leads the individual to believe that they are left to live their lives in a “box”. A “box”, in which there are limited options. A “box”, from which there is little hope of escape.
We can move beyond the “box” of a system, that by design seeks to define who we are as individuals; through a diagnosis, a treatment plan and a prognosis. We can move beyond the mindset, that leads us to believe that we are limited as “survivors”. We can move beyond a mindset, that leaves us feeling like prisoners, in our own skin. We can move beyond a mindset, that perpetuates a stereotype; that is based on a contempt prior to investigation.
We can live our lives beyond a mindset, that keeps us focused on our limitations. We can move beyond a mindset, that leads us to believe that we have few choices. We can move beyond a mindset, that minimizes and marginalizes who we are as individuals. We can move beyond a mindset, that dismisses, discounts and does not take us seriously. We can move beyond a mindset, that shows us little, respect and serves to offer us little, hope.
I share the above with you to encourage you, as I need to remember; that we no longer have to remain trapped by a “survivor” mindset. We can live our lives beyond the confines of diagnosis, a treatment plan, and a prognosis. We can live beyond the grasp of a stereotype and a societal stigmatization. We can live beyond the “voices”, that seek to undermine our hope, dreams, and destinies.
I wrote More than a Survivor to encourage people. who have been faced with adversity; to not get trapped into believing that they are victims of what has befallen them. I did not mean to challenge the reality of what has transpired in our lives, that we have survived.
I wrote More than a Survivor to encourage people who are faced with trauma, abuse and life changing events to not allow those events to define who they are as individuals.
I wrote More than a Survivor to encourage people to see themselves as more than a survivor of those life changing events. By seeing myself as more than a survivor, I begin to realize that I have choices. These choices help me to grow in awareness and acceptance of the event so that I can get into action.
I wrote More than a Survivor to encourage people faced by life changing events to get into action to pursue their dreams, their destinies and to impact their world.
We can live our lives beyond the mindset, of a “survivor”. We can be more than a “survivor”.
Below are several quotes that inspire me to remember, that I can be more than a survivor. As you read these quotes, may you also be inspired to remember; that you can be more than a survivor.
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Helen Keller
“Insist on yourself, never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous half-possession…Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” B.C. Forbes
“Regardless of your lot in life, you can build something beautiful on it.” Zig Ziglar
“Don’t judge your day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt
“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add specifically your own.” Bruce Lee
“If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined…you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
“I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” Abraham Lincoln
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Zig Ziglar
“Decision is the spark that ignites action. Until a decision is made, nothing happens.” Wilfred A. Peterson
“Our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but they are meant to build us up.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
“Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.” Zig Ziglar
“In my experience, I have found that adversity is what has made me successful because I refused to give up because of adversity.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
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