In December 2016 I wrote the article, I Am Not a “Label” — Being Our Own Best Cheerleader. Being our own cheerleader after a brain injury can be difficult because of many “voices”.
Voices that discourage us. Voices from without and voices from within. Voices that we hear and stories that we tell ourselves.
Below I would like to share what I learned about the “voices” and what helped me to begin to be my own best cheerleader after my brain injury.
As Shared in December 2016
Over the past several days I have been struggling with something. Something that I have had a difficult time understanding. Something that has been a distraction to me.
Last night I had a spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening that helped me to understand. Understand that I was being distracted by the remnants and the effects of a being labeled. Labeled as someone with a brain injury.
Understanding the Origins of a Faulty Belief
Distracted by the belief that I was limited by my deficits and limitations. Distracted by forgetting that I am not my brain injury.
Distracted by forgetting that I could dismiss the “voices” that sought/seek to discourage me.
Shaking off the Belief
Below I will share what helped me to “shake-off” these remnants and the effects of “voices” that sought to discourage me.
I will also share what helped me to remember that I could take an active role as a cheerleader in my own life.
In my experience, I reached a point in time when I could no longer defend the denial that kept me stuck for many years. A point in time when I could no longer keep buying into the denial of what other people wanted or needed me to believe about myself. A point in time when I was able to stop being my enemy by believing. Believing that I should not be impacted by an open skull fracture and traumatic brain injury.
I am thankful that I reached a threshold of pain in my life that motivated me to think outside of the “box”. I am thankful that I reached a threshold of pain that helped me to realize that I did not have to be limited by my deficits or limitations. I am thankful that I reached a threshold of pain in my life that motivated me. Motivated me to search for ways to use my gifts, talents, and abilities.
“Regardless of your lot in life, you can build something beautiful on it.” Zig Ziglar
Similarly, I reached a threshold of pain that led to a spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening that helped me to understand the struggle that I experienced for the past several days. My spiritual awakening reminded me that I needed to stop minimizing and marginalizing my efforts.
My spiritual awakening showed me that I needed to take an active role as a cheerleader in my own life.
That I needed to stop dismissing and discounting what I was building on my lot in life.
That I could no longer continue to do the same thing over and over again while expecting to get different results.
My spiritual awakening helped me to realize that I needed to find a way that would work for me.
A way that would work for me, despite my deficits and limitations. A way that would not get in my way.
A way, that would empower my ability to use my passions — through my gifts, talents, and abilities — to follow my dreams.
My Encouragement to You
In the event that you are living with the impact of your brain injury, you are not your brain injury. You may have deficits and limitations, but you are not those deficits and limitations.
Although your deficits and limitations may get in your way, they do not have to limit you.
Accept yourself as a individual living with the impact of a brain injury and look for ways to use what you like to do. Like to do to follow your passions through your gifts talents, and abilities. LIke to do to follow your dreams.
You are not your brain injury and that is not your identity. Explore ways that work for you to follow your dreams.
And then cheerlead what you able able to do through your gifts, talents, and abilities. And don’t give up.
Don’t let your Capabilities be Limited by your Deficits and Limitations.
“Do what you can, where you are with, what you have.” Theodore Roosevelt
“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
As a Bonus to the Above Article
In May of 2010, I wrote an article to share what I learned about being labeled.
Being labeled as an individual living with the impact of a brain injury.
Below is a copy of the article.
I would invite you to read the article. The information within the article can be applied universally.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Being Labeled
Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am honored by your presence. Through the process of writing the last several series, I have had a spiritual awakening. As I thought about the words that I have been using in both my titles and articles I realized that I have been unconsciously participating in a gross misrepresentation.
Let me explain.
When I was a young pup at a community college — early on in my academic pursuits — I took a course in sociology. Because I took this course over 20 years ago, I do not remember much of what I learned through that course. What I do remember from that course has stuck with me during the past 20 + years. Of late, I have been thinking more about…
What I do remember from the course in Sociology is the concept of labeling. Labeling implies and assigns worth and value to the individual through the process of characterizing and stereotyping the individual based on preconceived notions.
Over the Course of 20 + Years
Over the course of the past 20 + years, I have become more aware of the subtle, yet profound impact that labeling has upon individuals. My awareness has grown through my professional and personal experience. In my awareness, I have found that labeling occurs each time that the individual is dismissed and discounted based on faulty assumptions.
In my awareness, I have found that the labeling of individuals frequently occurs and is fueled by a contempt prior to investigation. In my awareness, I have also found that labeling frequently occurs because of ignorance and then is perpetuated by arrogance.
Labeling manipulates the individual by placing conscious and unconscious constraints upon the individual. Instead of seeing and celebrating the individual as essential, labeling classifies and categorizes the worth and value of the individual based on faulty information, bias and prejudice.
Labeling is not Harmless
Although labeling in and of itself is harmless — although it is based on ignorance, bias, and prejudice — the repercussions of being labeled can be devastating.
If the individual being labeled buys into and internalizes the assumption of the label, the individual may find themselves unconsciously identifying themselves with the label.
Are You Believing the Lie
Over time and through ongoing conditioning the individual may, in turn, begin to believe that they can not do or be anything beyond the limits assigned by the label. Consequently, the maintenance of the label becomes more important than the individual.
My spiritual awakening revealed that I had unknowingly participated in the labeling process. My spiritual awakening revealed that I had unknowingly been classifying and categorizing individuals, such as myself who are living with brain injuries.
My spiritual awakening also revealed that I unknowingly assisted in perpetuating the notion of the label. In the process, I minimized and marginalized individuals, such as myself living with brain injuries. With my spiritual awakening, I made a decision to stop using a limiting and inaccurate label to describe myself and other individuals. Other individuals living with brain injuries.
I made the decision to no longer refer to myself or to other individuals as traumatic brain injury survivors. I made the decision to start referring to individuals — such as myself — in an accurate and dis-empowering manner. I made the decision to begin referring to people, such as myself — as an individual living with a brain injury.
I Made a Decision
I made the decision to stop seeing and defining myself as a traumatic brain injury survivor. Instead, I began seeing myself as an individual living with the impact of a brain injury. I began seeing myself as an individual with unique gifts, talents, and abilities to explore and develop.
I made the decision to accept my limitations and deficits, but not be limited because of them.
The reality is that you and I do not have to be subservient to the limitation (s) inferred by any label. The reality is that we can live and use our gifts, talents, and abilities far beyond any inferred limitation(s).
Don’t Have to Stop
The reality is that individuals who have sustained or acquired brain injuries do not stop being individuals — to become a traumatic brain injury survivors. The reality is that as individuals, our brain injuries may change the way that we use our gifts, talents, and abilities, but our brain injuries do not change the reality that we still have those gifts, talents, and abilities.
The good news becomes obvious.
You and I — as unique individuals living with brain injuries — no longer need or have to buy into or be limited by faulty information, bias or prejudice. You and I — as unique individuals — no longer have to remain boxed in by any label.
You and I — as unique individuals — do not have to give up on our hopes, dreams or destinies.
No Longer Blocked
You and I no longer need to believe that our brain injuries are blocks to achieving our destinies. We can believe that our brain injury is merely a switch on the railroad of life that is leading us “down the track” to our destinies. We can learn to use our gifts, talents, and abilities in ways that work for us.
That is why if you are putting labels on yourself, stop. If you are placing labels and limitations on other people, stop. If you have people in your life who want to place labels on you, remember that you have a choice. What people think of you or I does not make it so. What matters is what we think about ourselves.
We Get to Choose
We no longer need to believe we are victims. We no longer need to believe that we are limited because of our brain injuries because you and I are not our brain injuries. You and I are so much more than our brain injuries, deficits or limitations.
That is why we need to challenge the notion that who we are as individuals are based on a label. That is why we need to challenge our inner thoughts when we feel classified, categorized and limited by faulty information, bias or prejudice. That is why we need to celebrate who we are as individuals.
That is why we need to stop buying into stereotypes and societal stigmatizations.
That is why we need to learn how to use our gifts, talents, and abilities in ways that work for us. That is why we need to be heard. That is why we need to push back and dispel the tide of ignorance by being all that we can be as individuals living with brain injuries.
Please read my article Brain Injury, Self-Esteem, Self-Respect, and Significance.
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