March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. As I examine my brain injury awareness, I realize that I need to ask myself several questions. Is having the awareness of my brain injury enough or is there more to life?
As I examine this question, I become aware of a choice. A choice that determines whether I will become bitter or better because of the awareness of my brain injury. The choice is mine. Let me explain.
To watch and listen to a video presentation of this article, click on this link: March — Brain Injury Awareness Month — Is Our Brain Injury Awareness Enough? Video Presentation
What I Discovered about my Awareness
I stayed angry and stuck because I did not realize that I could do anything about my awareness. As a result, I believed that I was being victimized by my awareness.
In this belief, I bought back into the denial of my awareness. In the process, I attempted to disprove my awareness, because other people wanted or needed me to deny my awareness. I continued to justify and defend my and other people’s denial until I could no longer deny my awareness.
Awareness, in and of itself; can leave the individual angry and stuck. Angry and stuck if that awareness does not lead the individual. Lead the individual to accept what their awareness reveals to them. What they are capable of doing and accomplishing with their lives because of their awareness.
“There are so many opportunities in life that the loss of two or three capabilities is not necessarily debilitating. A handicap can give you the opportunity to focus more on art, writing or music.” Jim Davis (cartoonist)
Groundhog Day — An Excellent Illustration
As illustrated in the movie, Groundhog Day and through the character of Phil Connors as played by Bill Murray, awareness in and of itself can lead the individual to become bitter in life. Instead of being empowered by the awareness through the process of reaching a place of acceptance, awareness can leave the individual feeling like they are a victim of their awareness. Awareness, in and of itself; can then leave the individual believing and feeling helpless over what can not be changed. On the other hand, awareness; through the grieving process — moving beyond denial through anger, bargaining, and depression to a point of acceptance can lead the individual living with a brain injury to be empowered to take a different course of action. A course of action, as Phil Connors took once he grieved what he could not change. A course of action that helped Phil to get different results in his life. Results that enriched his life and relationships.
A different course of action that would empower, enhance and give him the ability to be of service to the people who were part of his life. As with Phil, we can choose to use our place of awareness to move us through the grieving process of what we can not change; so that we can change the things that we can by taking action through acceptance. Action that can lead us to create a good life for ourselves instead of being caught in a “time loop” by mere awareness. Acceptance and action that will enrich and empower us to be victors in life, instead of reinforcing the notion that we are victims of a traumatic brain injury or another kind of brain injury. Action that will result in our lives being better. And as with Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors; our transition from being bitter to better will occur through a series of awareness’. As we transition through confronting our denial, being angry, trying to change the things we can’t, acceptance becomes real.
Through using our awareness to grow in our ability to accept, we are able to get into action. To get into action to try something different to get different results.
The Movies Plot
Several years ago I watched a movie that illustrated moving from bitter to better. Moving from being bitter to being better in life. The movie, Groundhog Day; with Bill Murray. In the movie, we see that Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors; is not a happy person, to begin with in life. As the movie continues we see that Phil Connors appears to be bitter and angry as he relates to his co-workers and the town’s people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He also appears to be all alone in his self-absorption.
Bill Murray’s character seems to be dumbfounded and in denial of what is occurring, as he wakes up each day to the same song and announcement on his clock radio. This denial continues until he realizes that the same events are occurring day after day, a phenomenon in which he finds himself powerless to change. With this awareness, he initially becomes increasingly angry at the same events that are occurring the same way every day. When he realizes that there appear to be no consequences for his behavior, he begins to exploit the vulnerabilities of the small-town atmosphere in which he finds himself stuck and unable to leave. He does this by taking a money bag out of an armored truck; using his acquired knowledge of people and events by taking advantage of a woman; and then of Rita, his coworker played by Allie MacDowell. In his exasperation and desperation, Phil attempts to commit suicide in many ways on different days, only to wake up the next morning at 6:00 am with the same song playing on the clock radio. As the movie continues, he then uses information gained by asking questions of the television crew and the townspeople to continue to exploit the information for his own gain.
After this behavior goes on for many days, with repeated slaps from Rita (television crew member) played by Allie MacDowell; Phil begins to have spiritual awakenings. He realizes that each day never changes and begins to recognize that being angry at the events that he can not change (through his mistreating of others), attempting to bargain his way out of the situation (through manipulating, exploiting and taking advantage of both his fellow crew members and town’s people) and by being depressed (resulting in multiple suicide attempts and failures) does not work, that Phil arrives at a place of acceptance. The movie’s plot reveals that once Phil arrives at a place of accepting what he can not change, that he begins to use what he has been given (events and circumstances) that he can not change; in ways to empower and enhance both his, his crew’s and the town’s people lives. As the movie continues we see how Phil’s behavior toward both himself and other people changes from being exploitative and manipulative to being genuine.
As we see in this movie, Bill Murray’s character; Phil Connors could have remained trapped by the awareness of his being stuck in one day. He could have continued to be angry at his set of circumstances. In his anger and frustration, Phil; could have continued to exploit and take advantage of his fellow television crew members and the town’s people. He could have stayed focused on being depressed over the things that he could not change. Instead, Phil reached a point in his experience where his awareness became acceptance of what he could not change so that he could begin to enrich both his life, the lives’ of his television crew and the town’s people. And so he did, by learning to ice sculpt, play the piano and go about helping various town’s people to enhance their lives and well-being. Although the movie’s plot is fictional, what is shown to have been learned by Phil can be a benefit to all of us.